If you ain't first, you're last. Ricky Bobby taught us that, but there's something substantial about being the first to accomplish a feat, even if others will surely follow. With three games opening the MLB season on Sunday and a dozen more slated for Monday, here's a running tally of players planting their flags early in the 2016 campaign:
The point is, there's something substantial about being the first to accomplish something, even if others will surely follow. With three games on Sunday and a dozen more slated for Monday, we thought it best to keep a running tally of the inaugural individual accomplishments as they occur.
Here are the players planting their flags early in the 2016 season:
First barehanded play: David Freese
Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham might have briefly thought he had the season's first infield hit in the top of the first during his team's 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday, but a charging Freese made a play that screams, "Look, ma ... no glove!"
First strikeout: Francisco Liriano
Liriano caught Matt Holliday looking to end the first half of the first inning of the first official game of the 2016 season.
First manager's challenge: Mike Matheny
PLAY UNDER REVIEW: Cardinals challenge. Call on the field is Andrew McCutchen is hit by pitch.- St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) April 3, 2016
After the home-plate umpire awarded Andrew McCutchen first base for being hit by an Adam Wainwright pitch in the top of the first, Matheny used his challenge to make sure that the pitch did indeed nick Cutch on the hand. It did, Matheny lost, and Cutch remained at first.
First hit: Also David Freese
With one out in the bottom of the first of Sunday's Pirates-Cardinals game, and McCutchen standing on first, Freese grounded a seeing-eye single up the middle, allowing Cutch to move from first to third.
First player to play multiple positions: Matt Holliday
Matt Adams into the game at first base. Matt Holliday moves from first base to left field.- St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) April 3, 2016
Starting left fielder Pham left the game with oblique tightness, so Adams replaced Pham and Holliday shifted back to his usual position in left. His first career start at first base lasted less than two innings.
First double: Gregory Polanco
Gregory Polanco doubles off the Clemente wall in his first plate appearance, already feeding the "breakout season" hype.- Adam Berry (@adamdberry) April 3, 2016
Polanco led off the bottom of the second with a frozen rope that smacked high off the wall in right field.
First pitcher hit (and first overall RBI): Also Francisco Liriano
Polanco moved to third on a Josh Harrison groundout and Jody Mercer drew a one-out walk, which set the scene for Liriano to become the first pitcher to get a knock in 2016, and the first overall hitter to drive in a run. With Mother Nature not taking notice of the start of baseball season (it was 35 degrees at first pitch in Pittsburgh), Liriano was also the first runner to don a jacket on the bases.
First triple: Francisco Cervelli
In a season in which the first RBI went to a pitcher, it's only fitting that the first triple goes to a catcher, right?
First outfield assist: Randal Grichuk
In the bottom of the sixth of the Pirates-Cardinals game, Harrison flew out to Grichuk for the second out of the inning. Cervelli tagged up from third base and scored on the play, but Grichuk caught Polanco trying to sneak up to second base. The Buccos challenged, but the call stood.
First straw that stirred the drink: Josh Donaldson
The reigning AL MVP picked up right where he left off, singling to right field in his first at-bat of the year during the Blue Jays' 5-3 win over the Rays and celebrating by reminding everyone that the best beverages are well blended.
First successful manager challenge: John Gibbons
In the bottom of the second of Sunday's Rays-Blue Jays game, Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier ostensibly grounded out to first base, but shook Chris Colabello with some shifty moves down the first-base line, and was ruled safe. Gibbons challenged, positing that Colabello managed to get his glove on the bag before Kiermaier reached safely, and the replay crew in New York agreed, overturning the call to end the inning.
First home run: Troy Tulowitzki
With none out in the top of the eighth inning, Tulowitzki became the first person to go deep in 2016 -- hitting a two-run home run off Ryan Webb. It was Tulong gone:
First fashion faux pas: Edinson Volquez wears the wrong Royals cap
Volquez wore the wrong hat (possibly the Royals BP version) in the first inning of his Opening Night start against the Mets:
The right-hander was alerted to the mishap after the first inning and quickly changed into KC's gold Opening Day headwear. Asked about it after the game, he said:
First steal: Alcides Escobar
The Royals shortstop, who's averaged 24 steals per season over the last eight years, stole second base without a throw in the bottom of the fifth inning:
First Bartolo Colon appearance: Bartolo Colon
Much to the joy of every human in the world, Colon made a surprise relief appearance in the sixth inning -- striking out one and, of course, walking none in 1 1/3 innings of work.
His first at-bat will have to wait until the Mets return to a National League park.