Seems to be a lot of enthusiasm for the thread, so I'm not going to delay posting it any longer. For here we go, folks! The first game of the 2008 takes place in Cincinnati this morning (Arizona time), which is kinda weird. Seems like ages since we had Opening Day at Chase, but it's only 2005 - and if you remember that game [two words: Javier Vazquez], you'll know why we're quite happy to be on the road. Webb gets the Opening Day start, of course, his third for the team though he has yet to figure in a decision. In 2006 he had a chance for victory when we took a 2-1 lead over the Rockies in the 8th, but Terry Mulholland blew the lead. Last season, he lasted only five innings - tied for his shortest outing of the year - but left with the scores level at 5-5, but we won it 8-6.
His spring has been mediocre, with an ERA of 8.50 in 18 innings. But he's the pitcher I'm least worried about: after the past two seasons, Webb has nothing to prove in the pre-season, and judging by his walk rate [one in those 18 frames], it seems he was pitching to contact. Harang had a good spring, with a 2.86 ERA in 22 innings; more significantly, last season he was 16-6 with 3.73 ERA. He's been remarkably consistent: his 2007 figures for ER, HR, BB and K were all within four of the 2006 numbers.
Last season, the Reds finished fifth in the Central, with a 75-87 record, but over on divisional rivals Viva El Birdos, they were described last month as, "The most underrated team in the division and possibly the league." The writer does find the Reds as weak on defense, and that could play into an aggressive running game from Arizona, taking the extra base to the corner outfielders, for example. I don't think we'll be taking them lightly, and need to make sure we take full advantage of our pitching advantage in the first two match-ups.
This will be our first chance to enjoy the new Gameday Threads experience, and there are a number of exciting new features - but I'd better not say what they are, in case they don't work! ;-) [For obvious reasons, this side of things has been almost impossible for the techgods to test thoroughly] The auto-refreshing of comments has already been discovered and works very nicely, it seems. If you notice any problems, however, let me know and I'll send them on up.
The forecast is still questionable, with a 60% chance of precipitation, but they're saying it'll only be "light rain/showers," so hopefully we can dodge the rain-drops. The beer is chillig, the snacks are on the table in the living-room, and the laptop is charging, ready for action. Optimism is unbridled, as we haven't been beaten in over five months. :-) So, let's go, Diamondbacks!