It’s baseball week! Opening Day will arrive in a matter of days and hours, not months and weeks. It’s wonderfully wonderful, isn’t it?
Here are five things that excite me the most for Opening Day.
MORE: Opening Day schedule, kick-off times for all 30 teams
I’m ridiculously excited for those who are lucky enough to be in the stands on Opening Day. Writers and baseball fans have gone poetic for decades about the thrill of hearing the crack of the bat or the pop of the glove or the roar of the crowd. But a summer without hearing those sounds in person, it is just not the same to watch on television or broadcast on your phone, it has really proven that the adage of “absence makes love grow” is true over and over again.
For me, the first game I’ll cover this year, and the first game I’ll be in since Spring Training 2020, a few days before everything shuts down, will be April 8. I’m positively giddy at the thought of once again hearing the bat, glove, and fans make baseball music. I love that masks don’t cover your ears, right? We hope we all have a chance sooner rather than later.
Familiar faces, familiar places
Buster Posey will be behind the plate for the Giants on Opening Day. Lorenzo Cain will roam the Brewers outfield. Jordan Hicks will be in the Cardinals bullpen, hoping for a chance to help St. Louis close out their first win of the season with a dominant performance in the final inning. Sounds great right?
All three players were left out of the 2020 season for COVID reasons. Posey and his wife had just adopted twins. Hicks is a Type 1 diabetic. Cain cited family reasons for opting out after playing five games. Baseball is best when it is safe for players like Cain, Hicks, and Posey to play. We are getting back to normal, folks. That is more exciting than the actual baseball about to be played.
Those three aren’t the only players to come back, of course. Ryan Zimmerman was out of the 2020 season, and he has been squashing the ball this spring – he has six home runs and a .480 average in 25 AB. Few pitchers are more entertaining, or effective, than Marcus Stroman, and he’s back in the Mets rotation. Michael Kopech to pitch his triple-digit fastball for the White Sox in a Major League game for the first time since 2018; He missed 2019 with Tommy John surgery and 2020 due to COVID. David Price will pitch regular season innings for the Dodgers for the first time.
It will be great to see these players on the field again. Here is a full list of players who were left out of 2020.
Familiar faces, new places
By now, Mets fans have seen many photos and videos of Francisco Lindor’s spring training in his new uniform. Same with Cardinals and Nolan Arenado fans, Dodgers fans, and Trevor Bauer and White Sox fans with Liam Hendriks.
Yet seeing these guys go out onto the field in games that count? That’s where it gets real, and not just for fans of those teams. That’s when Braves fans realize they’ll have to deal with Lindor this summer, for Brewers fans Arenado will likely devour potential doubles down the line with that Golden Glove of his, and for fans of Parents, as you can see. there is no rest after facing Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw in the first two games of a three-game series. And that’s when the rest of us get to see how new fan bases fall in love with new stars.
He’s going to hit a home run on Opening Day, folks. Mark it.
Look, the statistics from spring training don’t mean much. I get it. But I’m going to give you a couple of stats from spring training anyway: In 28 at-bats this spring, Ohtani has five home runs and is hitting .571 with an OPS of 1,701. Again, spring. Of course.
But he’s healthy and he’s hitting home runs all over the stadium.
Do you want an AL MVP candidate? You could do worse than pick Ohtani, and I can’t wait to see him park one over the fence on Opening Day. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was all Tuffy Rhodes with the White Sox in Game 1.
Ah, Tuffy Rhodes. He hit all five career home runs in 107 games before Opening Day 1994, and then proceeded to hit three in that game, all against Dwight Gooden, in his first three at-bats. Even now, a few decades later, it is shocking. Rhodes played 117 more games in his major league career and hit five more home runs before heading to Japan, where he became a legendary slugger.
Baseball is a sport that has been practiced since the 19th century and it still finds a way to surprise and delight us on a daily basis. I can’t wait to see what Opening Day 2021 has in store for me.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.