The long winter and off-season wait is over for teams and fans with the start of the 2017 Major League Baseball season. Opening Day has evolved into an event that has the best players from all 30 teams in action over the course of two days, so it’s no wonder many baseball fans consider this to be a national holiday.
Opening day began on Sunday with three highly anticipated games and continued into Monday when the remaining 24 teams took the field to begin its attempt at capturing the title of World Series Champions. The season started with the Yankees paired up against the Rays, followed by the Giants and Diamondbacks. The first primetime game of the season featured the World Series Champions, the Chicago Cubs kicking off its title defense against division rivals St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
One reason Opening Day feels so special is because it is the one time during the regular season where all teams will have its best players on the field, at the same time, and this appeared to be true on Monday when several games saw some of the best in the sport paired up against each other. The match-up between the defending American League champion, the Cleveland Indians, and the Texas Rangers, two of the best pitchers on the mound; Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and Ranger’s ace Yu Darvish.
Since 2014, when Kluber won the American League Cy Young Award, it’s hard to find two pitchers who have played at a higher level than Darvish and Kluber. However, Kluber did have the upper hand in innings pitched (672.2 to 244.2) because Darvish missed the entire 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery. Another reason why this game was highly anticipated was because the last time the teams played each other was during the 2016 postseason and there was plenty of unfinished business left on the table.
At the moment, there is so much anticipation surrounding the baseball world after Team USA’s historic win in the World Baseball Classic, and Opening Day only raises that level of excitement. Some fans are eager to see how the rebuilding of their favorite team went, while other fans want to know if the Cubs can pull off back-to-back wins after ending its curse and bring the team its first championship since 1908.
Once fall comes and baseball season comes to an end, I believe that the Chicago Cubs will, once again, be the World Series Champions. At the conclusion of spring training, the team had three players, who aren’t even in MVP conversations, record some impressive stats: Willson Contreras and Addison Russell led the team in homeruns, while prospect Ian Happ tied for the spring lead with 20 RBIs. Pairing these players with the reigning league MVP Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber, it’s hard to bet against the Cubs.
The anticipation is real enough to get the juices flowing for the 2017 season, because the following words never lose its hype: Opening Day is here.