By: Joe Zollo
The scent of freshly cut grass, groomed dirt lays across the open field, and the cracking sound of bat hitting ball is all you can hear. It is opening day for Major League Baseball and with a chill still following over most of the country, you can still feel the excitement growing for the season. Almost every team will begin play today and there are a few marquee matchups to keep an eye on.
Three games will be airing on ESPN today as part of Opening Day 2019 and the first matchup will be the Baltimore Orioles against the New York Yankees in the Big Apple at 1:00 PM EST. It is still chilly up in NYC but baseball is here and that city will come out in droves to see their team in hopes of winning not just this game, but the division as well.
At 4:00 PM EST and 1:00 PM PST, the 2018 runner-ups, Los Angeles Dodgers, will begin the season against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Los Angeles. The Dodgers have added some depth to their bullpen with Joe Kelly and have traded away Yasiel Puig and have lost Manny Machado. They have been a mainstay at the top of the National League for the past few seasons and that hot streak is hoping to be continued, except this season they want it to end with a World Series parade through the streets of LA.
The last matchup of the day on national television will involve the defending champion Boston Red Sox traveling to Seattle for a visit with the Mariners. Seattle has already played their first series in Japan against the Oakland Athletics and that is where Ichiro retired from baseball in his home country. A beautiful moment if you have not seen it. Boston, however, will be playing their first real action of the season and they continue on the road for 11 straight games before returning home to the rowdy fans of Fenway Park. Boston is going into the season without a closer but Head of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, and Manager Alex Cora do not seem to mind the challenge.
For this season, I am not really sure what to expect. No team in the American league made moves to get better and the National League had some shuffles but nothing that could scare anybody. Philadelphia may surprise people with Harper on the team and the Atlanta Braves could be poised for another great run with the young core that they have, beginning with Ronald Acuna. I still sit engrained in the fact that you will see the same teams in the playoffs again with maybe one or two surprises.
Come late October, we may see another Boston Red Sox World Series appearance as many AL teams just do not stack up well against them besides the New York Yankees. It is a long season and only time will tell what happens over the next seven months but one thing is for sure, it's baseball season and the boys of summer are ready to Let. It. Fly.