Opening Day of the season is very special to all baseball fans, but especially to those in cities like Pittsburgh, Miami, and Minneapolis, where the first pitch delivers hope to loyal fans who are accustomed to — or expecting — long, losing summers. No errors have been made yet, no bad calls by the umps, no called third-strikes with the bases loaded. This could be the year for the [insert your team’s name here], folks.
Here in New York, it’s been a tale of two cities in recent years, as the Mets have been Amazin’ in all the wrong ways while the Yankees have maintained a level of excellence that is both awesome and somewhat joyless. But even that may change this year — no thanks to the Mets — as the Bronx Bombers fielded a team this afternoon in their home-opener against the rival Boston Red Sox that left many Yankees fans scratching their heads and asking, “Who are these guys?” Instead of a lineup of high-priced all-stars led by Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, the Yanks trotted out the likes of Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix. With many of their aging veterans banged up and scheduled to miss significant portions of the season, the Yankees aren’t predicted by many to waltz into the playoffs like they have for almost a generation.
Meanwhile in Washington, the city whose only real baseball tradition had been encapsulated by the mantra, “First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League,” is undergoing a baseball renaissance — or more accurately a naissance. The Nationals won their division last season, and with a roster overflowing with young talent like Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, they are picked by many to win the World Series this year. They’re hosting the Miami Marlins this afternoon and Harper, who’s practically half the age of the Yankees’ most famous players, has already launched two home runs. (By the way, Happy Opening Day, Marlins fans. And when does football season start?)
So revel in your team’s opening-day success — or dismiss their initial failures. After all, it’s just one of 162 games and anything can happen. (Keep telling yourself that, fans of the 1-0 Houston Astros!) Pace yourself, reintroduce yourself to Vin Scully, adjust your fantasy-baseball lineup daily, but know that today is the only day you’re allowed to wear your yellowing Tad Iguchi jersey to the office.