Originally posted on Phillies Nation  |  Last updated 4/9/12

Philadelphia Phillies (1-2) vs. Miami Marlins (1-3)

Cole Hamels vs. Anibal Sanchez

Time:  1:05, Citizens Bank Park

TV: CSN, MLBN

Weather: Partly Sunny, Chance of Rain, high 63

Thanksgiving is cool, Christmas is awesome (hell, we even have “Cliffmas” in the city of brother love), but the Phillies home opener is something that, to me, rivals the greatest days of the year.  A holiday spent with more than 50,000 of your closest friends, some with less than no intention of actually watching the game, but all of whom contribute to one of the greatest home atmospheres in baseball.

Today, the newly named Miami Marlins bring their new skipper, Ozzie Guillen, and the beneficiaries of their offseason spending spree, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, and Mark Buehrle to Philadelphia for the first time in 2012.  A 72-win team just a season ago, this new look team from Miami has quickly become the media favorite to dethrone the Fightin Phils as NL East champions.  And while none of us are ready to give up the title, we acknowledge that season shapes up to be more of a grind than in years past.

Cole Hamels was skipped in yesterday’s game three vs. Pittsburgh- a move some said was to split up the lefties (Cliff Lee and Hamels), but we all know that Cole was passed over to give him the distinction of taking the hill in the season’s home opener.  That decision was an easy one.  With a juiced-up (aka drunk and rowdy) crowd behind him, Hamels should no doubt be reminded why he does not want to leave Philadelphia.  The hometown fans, starved for a winner, desperate for a parade, finally got what we so desired thanks in large part to this homegrown lefty, then a star in the making, now one of the most desired players in recent memory.

Hamels, a two-time All Star with career marks of 74-54, with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP, is in his final year under contract (bet you didn’t know that yet…) will be very difficult to afford should he reach the Free Agent market after this season, as many baseball “experts” have said the Phillies don’t have a great chance to retain his services should a bidding war ensue.

And so today starts a new chapter in Cole Hamels’ Philadelphia story, perhaps the last chapter – but regardless of how that story ends, the bigger issue is the season at hand.  The head-to-head battle for the 2012 NL East crown begins today!

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