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The Brantley Breakdown: Sights and Sounds from MLB Opening Weekend

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Opening Day has come and gone, and now the sounds of stadium vendors, popping gloves, and cracking bats fill our TV speakers (or ear drums if you're lucky enough to witness a ball game in person).

The game's sights, sounds, and smells are all a welcome and fun return to our lives, as are many other great things about our game, but some ugly aspects of MLB have been a harsh reminder of our reality.

We'll get into those happenings, starting with the biggest, most disheartening one...

The Ohtani Problem

Eek. With how much legalized gambling is becoming intertwined with sports (I mean, can we go more than 5 minutes without being reminded about money lines, over-unders, and everything else associated with gambling) we were long overdue for a gambling scandal to hit baseball, it's just unfortunate that it happened to the most beloved player in the sport.

As more details emerge, it seems less and less likely that Ohtani will be suspended or reprimanded for any wrongdoing, but from a pure perception standpoint, irreversible damage has been done. Ohtani had maintained a squeaky clean appearance to the media up to this point, with many wondering what the 2-way superstar couldn't do in the world.

Now, after a poor job of handling this incident from the beginning, with Ohtani's representatives releasing conflicting stories after the news of the gambling allegations broke, people are left to speculate about what happened, how much Ohtani knew, etc.

Instead of missing the days of Ohtani being able to pitch, now we're left missing the days of wondering about the name of Ohtani's dog instead of pondering just how deep this thing goes, and how many other scandals are on the horizon.

Rhys Hoskins is back, and he's causing some trouble

I think of this as a fun development, because baseball is just more fun when the players seem to hate each other. Wherever you land on the spectrum of Jeff McNeil vs. Rhys Hoskins, I think those of us who aren't Mets or Brewers fans can agree that this was a fun little side story.

Hoskins slid hard into second base to break up a double play, McNeil took issue with it, and Hoskins proceeded to make the crybaby face at the second baseman.

The following day, Hoskins lit up Mets pitchers, going 3-4 with a homer and leading the Brew Crew to a 3-game sweep of the team from Queens.

So yeah, this was a nice thing to watch unfold.

The jerseys still SUCK

If anyone wants to try to defend these horrendous, cheaply made, garbage jerseys that isn't sponsored by Nike, go for it.

The names are hard to read, the pants are still weirdly see-through, and most of all, they look cheap as all get out.

Baseball has been working against a lot of things as football and basketball have overtaken them in popularity, but the classic look of the jerseys and the name-number combinations was one thing they had going for them.

Now? They just look like crap. A depressing reminder of how companies like MLB will do anything to cut corners and make a few more bucks (I don't care what propaganda MLB releases about this issue, they look horrible and the only reasonable explanation would be cutting costs).

The league is in great hands, and the game is even more exciting than last year

As mentioned above, I get that baseball has taken some steps back in terms of entertainment value. And as much as I just took a crap on the league for the jersey thing, they really hit the pitch clock thing out of the park, as well as the attempt to increase base stealing.

The game is just more fun with guys flying around, making plays on the base paths and forcing pitchers and catchers to adjust, and hopefully teams will take even further steps to ensure they're properly valuing how much easier it is to swipe a bag.

All of the talk about break-even points, pop times, times to the plate, and all of the other stuff that goes into baserunning is perfectly rational and understandable, and I'm sure I'm uneducated in terms of what the new break-even point is, but it sure seems as if teams left a little meat on the bone last year with the ridiculously high success rate.

Let's hope the teams can continue this trend and we get to see athleticism on full display as much as possible.

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