Miami Marlins: MLB Opening Week 2017 and Odd Opening Day Trivia

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2017 Miami Marlins Opening Day starter Edinson Volquez leads the most recent, but the most, questionable quintet. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
2017 Miami Marlins Opening Day starter Edinson Volquez leads the most recent, but the most, questionable quintet. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /
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Whether you are a fan of the Miami Marlins or some other team, you will all agree that no sport does a more effective job of making a celebration out of its return to regular season action than Major League Baseball does.

Yes, the NFL certainly tries with those kickoff Thursdays, but months of hyping up the Combine, the Draft, and preseason games devoid of any point tend to wear thin. There’s poetry to the start of the MLB Season, for the Miami Marlins and every other team, and their fans. There is a sense of comforting routine that doesn’t feel routine at all, and not just because of that weird Tuesday schedule to accommodate Mother Nature.

Just as Spring Training is unique among all other sports’ offseasons, Opening Day and the corresponding Opening Week stand tall above the rest.

So as we tie a bow on the 2017 version of it with Sunday’s rare nationally televised Miami Marlins game, the staff here at Marlin Maniac thought it would be fun to share some obscure Opening Day trivia from franchise history. This is baseball after all- it’s all about the history and the numbers.

With that in mind, we’ll be throwing out some first pitch factoids, trying to cover as many Openers as possible.

Did You Know That The First Pitcher To Ever Lose To The Marlins Would Do Again With Much Bigger Stakes?

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Former Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser had probably just had the worst season of his career in 1992, and he still posted a 3.67 ERA and double-digit wins. He was the definition of a big game pitcher, and he was on the mound to face the Marlins in their first ever game on April 5, 1993.

He couldn’t get Jeff Conine out, gave up 10 hits, and took the loss, while a pitcher ten years his senior in Charlie Hough earned the first ever Marlins win.

The two would face each other again to kickoff the 1994 season, this time with Hershiser claiming victory. In fact, after that 1993 opener, he’d never to lose to the Marlins again, at least in the regular season.

The very first pitcher the expansion Marlins ever faced would meet them again five years later, this time in the World Series. Hershiser went 0-2 against the Fish in the 1997 Fall Classic.

Do You Know What Is The Record For Consecutive Games Against The Same Team? 

That would be the Dodgers, who with another game in 1995, ended up facing the Marlins in three straight seasons, the first of their existence no less. Proof that more than two teams had finished Spring Training would arrive when the Pittsburgh Pirates came to town to kick off the 1996 season, led by their manager Jim Leyland.

Yes, that Jim Leyland.

The city of Miami loves them some Jim Leyland. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
The city of Miami loves them some Jim Leyland. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /

Did You Know That Apparently Teams Weren’t In Any Rush To Give Up Warm Weather In April?

From 1993-2001, the Marlins failed to open the season at home exactly once- that second Hershiser-Hough duel in 1994.  The travel pace picked up from 2002 on, but still, the Fish have played18/25 season openers at in South Florida. Even allowing for schedule makers’ weather concerns, that’s a staggering disparity.

Did You Know that Apparently, The Marlins Weren’t In Any Rush To Meet Their Division? 

The first time the Marlins opened a season against an NL East rival was 1999. But in the eighteen seasons since, there have only been five occasions where play didn’t open within the division.

Did You Know That Alex Fernandez Defeated 1997 Champion Teammates In Consecutive Opening Starts? 

Alex Fernandez missed the bulk of the ’97 postseason and all of 1998 but was able to dispatch former brothers-in-arms Al Leiter and Livan Hernandez respectively to open up the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

Did You Know That Ryan Dempster Was Really Unlucky? 

Dempster never allowed more than 3 ER in either of his two Opening Day appearances from 2001-2002, but the Marlins would go on to lose in extra-innings in both contests.

Did You Know That The 2004 Opener Saw Two World Series MVPs Face Off? 

Livan and Josh Beckett combined for 17 Ks that day as the two postseason heroes went head to head. Both earners of the same award, they very nearly shared something else in common. Beckett started his Marlins career wearing No. 61, but changed it to No. 21 in mid-2003. If he hadn’t, the pair would have had identical numbers, as Livan stuck with 61 for his entire career.

Admit it Marlins fan- you want to bend it like Beckett. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Admit it Marlins fan- you want to bend it like Beckett. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Did You Know That Livan Hernandez Participated In Three Marlins Opening Days? 

Of course, he was only a member of the Marlins for one of them. He took the mound for the Fish during the world’s saddest Ring ceremony in 1998 but then spent Opening Day 2000 and 2004 going up against his former team. Odder still, he pulled that off representing two different teams, and added an Opening Week win against Miami in 2009 for good measure, with yet another team.

Did You Know That Playing The Nationals Has Gotten Really Repetitive? 

The Marlins have started the season against the Expos/Nationals six times, more than any other team.

Did You Know That There’s A Tie For Most Opening Day Starts By A Marlins Pitcher? 

Beckett and Josh Johnson share the mark at three a piece, with Beckett handling 2003-2005, and Johnson 2010-2012. Many, many people are tied at two a piece: Hough, Brown, Alex Fernandez, Ryan Dempster, Dontrelle Willis, and Ricky Nolasco.

Do You Know What The Best/Worst Records Are By One Of Those Repeat Participants? 

Alex Fernandez has the top slot by a mile with his 2-0 mark. Johnson has the dubious honor of having taken the loss in three season openers, compiling a 1-3 record. No, I haven’t made a miscalculation: Johnson took over in relief for Dontrelle in 2006, earning the loss on account of surrendering the only run scored in a 1-0 loss to the Astros.

That should cover most of them, save for one more factoid. And that’s the record for consecutive Marlins season openers with a different pitcher taking the mound. We’re in the midst of it right now.

Next: A Little More Pesky History

Jose Fernandez in 2014, Henderson Alvarez in 2015, Wei-Yin Chen in 2016, and Edinson Volquez in 2017. Four consecutive new faces- that’s never happened before. I’ll let you piece together how rare even three in a row is, and I’ll also leave you to reflect on the fact that at least in spirit, those four faces belonged to the same pitcher.

But that’s a wrap Marlins fans, on both this piece and this first week of 2017. If you’re not primed for baseball now, not sure what to do for you.

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