Theo Epstein was 29 when he saw his first opening day as General Manager of the Red Sox.
Fifteen years later, with three championship rings in his name and an express track to the Hall of Fame, the 44- The one-year Cubs president still admits he has butterflies on the first day.
"But they are nice little butterflies," he said before the 8-4 win over the Marlins on Thursday. "Compared to the, er, are there any poisonous butterflies now?"
Uh, sorry, no such thing.
"Compared to the tarantula-like butterflies back then," he finished.
The & # 39; 03 Red Sox Bullpen coughed up his first opener as Head Honcho, and Epstein took the loss hard. He remembered going back to his hotel room and repeating the game in his head over and over again.
The opening game on Thursday in Miami could have followed the same script, but the Cubs shook off Jon Lester's poor outing and Kyle Schwarber's defensive faux pas and triumphed over a rebuilding team with few known names.
So the Cubs did what they should do and what their fans expect daily when they count until October in March
"I do not care, and I think we use much of what happened last year is, "said Kris Bryant. We learned from that and we should win last year too, the first half was not great, but we found out, it's just a matter of sticking to what we have here and not having to worry about the outside things We know how passionate our fans are, but we can not think about it. "
All in all, it was a traditional opening day in Miami, a franchise that has no tradition of selling anything else as his best player to sell and start over. DJ Khaled played before the game. Cheerleaders danced in the field and on the shelters between the innings. Empty seats were abundant, and Cubs fans filled most of the rest.
The afternoon started like a perfect daydream under a clear blue sky, thanks to an open roof and Ian Happ, who is Homeric on the first litter of the season. The Cubs beat each other in three runs before Anthony Rizzo got married in the second inning, pointing to the sky and tapping the Stoneman Douglas patch on his chest as he crossed the home plate.
Rizzo called it a tribute to "those kids up there and adults who lost her life "when he fired at his high school on February 14th.
"I've met many homeruns," he said "That was probably the out-of-body experience I've had in my life, I just felt very good."  After a 4-1 lead, Lester was ready to show that his below-average 2017 season was an anomaly and not a trend. Epstein said before the game, "Jon behaves as if he has something to prove," and Lester took that to heart.
"He does not know a couple of those games that got out of hand last year," Epstein said. "He is rightly proud of everything he has achieved and wants to do it justice, and he knows his role in the team and how important he is, he has invested to win, and he knows that he is his best self must be to win. "
But Lester was not his best self Thursday, or even a decent facsimile of his own. He gave up four runs on seven strokes and three runs over 3 1/3 innings before Maddon graciously tore him with a 5-4 lead in the fourth.
"Accommodations need to be made," said Lester. "And we will do it."
Lester earns a Mulligan while Rizzo earns a tip for his hometown Parkland. Www.mjfriendship.de/de/index.php?op…01&Itemid=37 After a preliminary conference praising Stoneman Douglas' student activists, calling for stricter gun laws, criticizing the social media role, saying that politicians were "trembling" at the open-hearted children, Rizzo said his home race was a "special moment"
His teammates also knew it was not just another home run.
"It was a pretty emotional day for him to obviously play in front of the (Parkland) families and his family and a lot of the community out there," Bryant said. "It was nice that he was fine today and that he could win, standing outside for this anthem was really touching, I realized he was hurting a bit inside."
The openers are just one of 162 games. But just when Epstein remembered the heartbeat of his 2003 opener, as it was yesterday, Rizzo will always remember his emotional homer at the 2018 opening.
Baseball may be his career, but it's not his life.
"He's much more than a baseball player," Epstein said. "There are many elements to him as a human, he is a very caring, emotional person who easily develops important relationships, he really feels connected to his hometown and school, and he just has a big heart."
Rizzo invited that Stoneman Douglas baseball team to Marlins Park for Friday's game, the second in the series, and some family members of victims will throw
"It will be difficult to see that for anyone who has a pulse," Rizzo said.
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