For baseball fans, Opening Day is the best day of the year. It provides a sense of hope and excitement to the 162-game season. On this day, every fan believes their team has a chance, if everything goes right. Reality might settle in a day or two later, but Opening Day is about enjoying the moment.
Of course, the moment is highlighted by the pitcher who takes the ball for the team's first game. More than any other sport, baseball and its players are identified by statistics, so here are some high school-based numbers related to the announced starting pitchers for Opening Day:
* Nine of the 30 pitchers played their high school baseball in California. The list: The Braves' Tommy Hanson (
Redlands East Valley
), The Diamondbacks' Ian Kennedy (La Quinta (Westminster, Calif.)
), the Rangers' Colby Lewis (North (Bakersfield)
), the Cardinals' Kyle Lohse (Hamilton (Hamilton City)
), the Blue Jays' Ricky Romero (Roosevelt (Los Angeles)
), the Yankees' CC Sabathia (Vallejo
), the Rays' James Shields (Hart (Newhall)
), the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg (West Hills (Santee)
) and the Angels' Jered Weaver (Simi Valley
* There have been a combined six Opening Day starts between Simi Valley standouts and brothers Jered Weaver (Angels) and Jeff Weaver (six MLB teams). The two had their jerseys retired by the school in 2007. Jered will be making his fourth Opening Day start for the Angels.
* There are five combined MLB no-hitters for the announced starters. The Tigers' Justin Verlander (Goochland, Va.
) and the Phillies' Roy Halladay (Arvada West (Colo.)
) each have two, while the Red Sox' Jon Lester (Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma, Wash.)
) has the other one. Lester was the Washington State Player of the Year in 2000.
* Four pitchers played for Texas high schools: The Orioles' Jake Arrieta (Plano East
), the White Sox' John Danks (Round Rock
), the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo (Trimble Tech (Fort Worth)
) and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (Highland Park (Dallas)
* Two pitchers played in Colorado: Halladay and the Athletics' Brandon McCarthy (Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado Springs)
* Two aces in the same division – the NL West – were selected to the MaxPreps High School All-Decade team (2000-09)
in the Giants' Tim Lincecum (Liberty (Renton, Wash.)
) and Kershaw. Lincecum was the Gatorade State Player of the Year in 2003 after leading Liberty to the state title. He went 12-1 with a 0.70 ERA and 183 strikeouts in 91 innings during his senior year. Kershaw was the Gatorade and USA Today
National Player of the Year in 2006. In his senior year he went 13-0 with a 0.77 ERA with 139 Ks in 64 innings.
* Two current Major League players, including Twins starting pitcher Carl Pavano, attended Southington (Conn.)
. So, too, did Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia. For those who remember former Reds ace reliever Rob Dibble, he also played for the Blue Knights.
* Astonishingly, there was only one win by Strasburg during his junior season at West Hills
. Yes, the Nationals' ace went 1-10 as a junior.