Originally posted on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 4/5/12

Man I love opening day. I can’t wait to be there today. The same goes for Justin Masterson. The big right-hander will be the Indians opening day starter for the first time in his career. Interestingly, 2012 will be the fifth consecutive year the Tribe will have somebody different taking the ball to start the season.

In 2008, CC Sabathia was making his fifth opening day start in the previous six seasons. The Tribe took that one in Chicago 10-8 in a memorable battle. Who could forget Joe Borowski walking the tight rope and being bailed out by Jason Michaels’s game-saving grab against the left field wall to end the White Sox comeback attempt? And who could forget the Michaels/David Dellucci left field platoon in 2008? Casey Blake was still at third base for the Tribe, Ryan Garko was at first, and Franklin Gutierrez was in right. Garko and Franky G were supposed to take that next step that season. We all know how that turned out.

In 2009, with Sabathia gone, Eric Wedge turned to Cliff Lee as his guy for the opener in Texas. The Tribe got bombed that day 9-1 with Lee giving up seven runs on 10 hits in five innings. It turned out to be his worst start of the season where he was again a dominant force who was dealt to Philadelphia in July. Other Tribe luminaries that played in this one were Mark DeRosa, Ben Francisco, and a relief appearance by Masa Kobayashi.

In 2010 with the twin Cy Young Awards both long gone, Manny Acta had little choice but to go to veteran Jake Westbrook, who was coming off of a season plus missed because of Tommy John surgery. I have always loved Jake and respected his game and professionalism, but he was far from an opening day starter; quite an indictment of the state of the Indians rotation that season. He lasted just four innings, allowing five earned runs against the White Sox in a 6-0 loss. Mark Grudzielanek was the Tribe’s second baseman in this one. Jhonny Peralta was at third. Aaron Laffey pitched two innings and the Sox’s Mark Buerhle made one of the great defensive plays of all time, flipping the ball from his glove between his legs to get Lou Marson at first. The offense just managed four hits.

Last season had to the look of a real debacle. Fausto Carmona was the guy on the mound for the Indians against the White Sox (once again). By the end of the fourth inning, the Sox were up 14-0 and a stadium full of Tribe fans left early and angry. Carmona couldn’t get out of that fourth inning, getting rocked for 10 runs on 11 hits. Justin Germano pitched the next three innings, giving up four more runs. The one positive to come out of this debacle was the Tribe never quit, which turned out to be a big theme for the 2011 season. They scored 10 runs in the final four frames, and finished with 17 hits in a 15-10 loss. Every Tribe starter not named Austin Kearns had at least one hit.

So now here we are, Opening Day 2012 and Masterson is the fifth consecutive different pitcher to get the call. He should fair better than the previous four. The best performance of those was sadly Sabathia in 2008 and he only went five and a third, allowing five runs. J Mast is the perfect guy to get things started for the Tribe in 2012. He has the perfect demeanor to be the leader of the staff. His stuff is terrific and he relishes this moment.

“Part of you is going to just appreciate it and appreciate the moment,” he said. “You never know when you’ll have it again. Maybe this is my last year playing baseball, whether an injury takes you away or some other circumstance.”

Lets do this people. The sun is out. Its not snowing (yeah for us!). Lets play some baseball.

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