Buy me some peanuts and crackerjack, baseball season is finally opening today.
The pursuit of the World Series trophy commences with all 30 teams equal at 0-0 and six months ahead of them.
— MLB (@MLB) April 2, 2017
The three games on Sunday are all division games.
The very first game of the season pits the AL East rival Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees against each other in sunny St. Petersburg’s much-maligned Tropicana Field. The domed stadium that has been at ground zero of contentious local politics over a suitable relocation is sold out and will be rocking with Yankee fans as it always is when the Bronx bombers are in town.
While the Rays will again struggle to cobble together any semblance of a consistent offense it is imperative for their pitching to be lights out, a lot to ask considering the annual exodus of arms that the low revenue team can’t afford. Longtime Ray Evan Longoria will lead the offensive troops but it’s going to be tough to ask for much out of this year’s bunch of retreads who hardly compensate for all of the talent that has left town in recent years in what has been a series of disastrous trades for TB.
Chris Archer will be on the mound for the Rays as he tries to rebound from an eye-popping 19 loss season in 2016.
— Tampa Bay Rays – x (@RaysBaseball) April 2, 2017
The Yankees are trying to retool on the fly and hope that an infusion of young talent is able to nicely mesh with a squad still largely dependent on veterans including Brent Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Starlin Castro. Youngsters Greg Bird, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are the first of the Baby Bombers during a transitional period for the Yanks. Neither A-Rod or Mark Teixeira will be suiting up as both stars are now retired. Hard trowing closer Aroldis Chapman makes his debut with the team.
Right-handed ace Mashishiro Tanaka gets the start for New York.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 2, 2017
The middle game features AL West division rivals the San Francisco Giants facing off against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix.
The Giants are expected to contend with the Los Angeles Dodgers and both will likely make the playoffs. Bruce Bochy’s team will once again be lead on offense by Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence. Star reliever Mark Melancon has been brought in to handle the closing duties for what looks to be a potentially dominant pitching staff.
Southpaw Madison Bumgarner will take the mound as he looks to have another dominant season.
The Diamondbacks are struggling to contend in a division with the two California powerhouses and the most optimistic outlook would be sneaking into the postseason as a wildcard. They are led by stud first baseman Paul Goldschmidt who is a multiple threat player and flew off the boards in nearly every fantasy baseball draft for his versatility. Goldschmidt will be joined by solid but not spectacular offensive contributors A.J. Pollock, Yasmany Tomas and Jeff Lamb among others.
Former Cy Young Award winner Zach Greinke looks to rebound after a disappointing first year in Arizona when he tries to shut down a potent San Francisco batting order this afternoon.
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) April 2, 2017
The nightcap is one of pro baseball’s greatest rivalries when the reigning champion Chicago Cubs travel to Busch Memorial Stadium to take on the nemesis St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cubbies made history last year by forever laying to rest the curses of the infamous Billy Goat and scapegoated fan Steve Bartman when the topped off a miraculous World Series comeback in extra innings against the Cleveland Indians in an October classic for the ages. Manager Joe Maddon will rank right up there with George Halas, Bobby Hull, Mike Ditka and Michael Jordan in the annals of Chicago sports history after leading the woebegone team out of the wilderness.
The Cubs are absolutely loaded for a title defense and are widely favored to make it to their second World Series.
Lefty Jon Lester looks to follow-up on a dominating 19-win 2016 season when he takes the mound tonight in St. Louis
Five months later, a new quest begins. pic.twitter.com/6autfgwdjL
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 2, 2017
The Cardinals are looking to rebound from a 2016 season that can only be deemed a failure after the red birds failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010. A stocked and potent lineup has become even more so with the free agent acquisition of former Cub Dexter Fowler who will surely attempt to use to opener to make the case that his former team should have cracked open their checkbooks.
On the mound for the Cardinals will be right-hander Carlos Martinez.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) April 2, 2017
The six teams playing Sunday games will get Monday off as the rest of the league plays their openers.
The most compelling match-ups tomorrow will be between AL contenders the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers, an early interleague game between the Boston Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates and a match-up between the high scoring Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles.
The chase begins.
LET’S GO. pic.twitter.com/o2XaDcL1yN
— MLB (@MLB) April 2, 2017