Tomorrow marks one of the most glorious days of the year: MLB Opening Day. Yeah, the Mariners already beat the A’s twice in Japan last week, which concluded Ichiro’s absolutely legendary career. But Thursday is the first time all 30 teams will be in action. Opening Day is always exciting because not only is the season starting, but you get to see every team’s aces go against each other. We’re talking matchups like Scherzer vs. deGrom and Verlander vs. Snell, in addition to seeing guys like Sale, Kluber, and Bumgarner throw. If that doesn’t make it move at least a little bit, then you’re not a baseball person, and I couldn’t feel more sorry for you.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of other great sports. I love March Madness, nothing compares to it. I just hope I don’t have to see Coach K’s smug face after yet another national championship, even though I would be happy for future Knick Zion (hopefully). The NFL is great, but we just saw Tom Brady win his sixth Super Bowl as he continues to absolutely dominate Father Time. And don’t get me started on the NBA, I won’t believe the Warriors aren’t gonna breeze through the Finals again until I see it with my own eyes.
Baseball gives you a game nearly every single day. There’s so much young talent, so many promising teams. The AL East has pro sports’ greatest rivalry, with the 100-win Yankees looking for revenge on the 108-win, defending-champ Red Sox for knocking them out of the playoffs last season. While those are two of baseball’s best teams on paper, don’t discount the Rays, who won 90 games in 2018.
The AL Central figures to still belong to the Indians and their forceful starting rotation, but they left major holes in their roster with the departures of Yan Gomes, Andrew Miller, and Michael Brantley. Don’t count out the Twins to give them a run for their money, as this division could be much more competitive than most anticipate.
The AL West is headlined by the 2017 champion Astros, with last year’s surprise team, the A’s, looking to make some noise once again. Perhaps Mike Trout and his record-breaking contract could propel the Angels to a wild-card spot? Lots of talent in this division, but it is still the Astros’ to lose.
Over in the National League, the NL East is going to be one of the most competitive and fun divisions in baseball. The Phillies had the best offseason in baseball, adding the likes of Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, J.T. Realmuto, and of course Bryce Harper. The Braves bring back the core of last year’s division championship team, as well as having added Josh Donaldson to the mix. The Nationals improved even with the loss of Harper, adding Patrick Corbin, Yan Gomes, Brian Dozier, and others to the mix as promising young prospect Victor Robles assumes Harper’s role in the outfield. Last but not least, the Mets made a plethora of moves to build around what could be baseball’s best rotation, including trading for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, as well as signing Wilson Ramos, Jed Lowrie, and bringing back Jeurys Familia.
The NL Central will also prove to be one of baseball’s most entertaining divisions. In addition to the Brewers, who came within a game of the World Series last season, and the 2016 champion Cubs, the Cardinals added perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller to a team that won 88 games a year ago. This should prove to be one of the best division races in baseball.
Finally, the NL West looks like it still belongs to the Dodgers. Despite Clayton Kershaw starting the season injured, they’re still probably the deepest team on paper in the National League. Walker Buehler had an extremely promising rookie year, Corey Seager returns to play shortstop after missing 2018 with an injury, and the team signed AJ Pollock to replace Yasiel Puig in the outfield. Despite the Dodgers’ prowess, don’t count out the Rockies, led by superstars Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon.
There’s nothing better than coming home to a baseball game on every single night. Summer nights spent at the stadium are an experience like no other. I get that it’s a long season, the games take hours to finish, and there can be a lot of time in between real action. But baseball is a beautiful game. I think Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver said it best: “You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You’ve got to throw the ball over the damn plate and five the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game of them all.” Game 1 of 162 is finally here tomorrow. Lemme drive the damn boat!