It took several weeks of agonizing back-and-forth talks, but baseball is finally here, and so is Opening Day! Amid a global pandemic, the sport known for its drawn-out and lengthy season, will play full-speed ahead. Two big match-ups will grace our screens tonight: Yankees vs. Nationals, and Dodgers vs. Giants.
Better late than never
This unique season consists of 60 games, instead of the typical 162. Baseball does luck out in the sense that they are not playing in a bubble like the NBA and NHL. Nevertheless, fans and players are ready for first pitch. Opening day is usually a day with packed stadiums, peanuts and cracker jacks, and the wave. Today it will be a quiet, empty ballpark. No hot dog stench. No autograph lines. No boos or cheers.
— MLB (@MLB) July 23, 2020
New York vs. Washington
The defending World Series champion Nationals take on the Yankees. The last time these two teams faced each other was in 2018. Two years later, both teams are equipped with powerhouse hitters and aces on the mound. Gerrit Cole takes the mound for New York after being signed in the off season. He had an ERA of 2.50 in 2019, giving up only 29 home runs. The 29-year-old pitcher sports the pinstripes for the very first time tonight and is excited for the potential this season brings.
On the Nationals side, you have another strong right-hander, Max Scherzer. The Missouri alum is excited for Opening Day considering the circumstances and is approaching his start like any other day.
The Nationals will be without their young star, Juan Soto, who tested positive for COVID-19 and will not be in the starting lineup this evening.
Washington Nationals star Juan Soto has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss tonight's season opener against the New York Yankees, sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 23, 2020
Los Angeles vs. San Francisco
A California showdown. Will this be the year the Dodgers win it all? The west coast team has made the playoffs for the past seven seasons. They’ve made two World Series appearances in those seven years and still haven’t managed to bring home the trophy since 1988. Clayton Kershaw takes the hill for LA, while Johnny Cueto starts for the Giants. The Dodgers made strategic trades in the off season acquiring both David Price and Mookie Betts from Boston. This week, Betts signed a 12-year extension on his contract worth $365 million.
The 2020 baseball season will undoubtedly go down in history as the weirdest baseball season to grace our screens. The effect that this season will have on strategies, lineups, rotations, will be truly unique. With only 60 games, batters won’t be reaching their typical stats. Some sluggers that can hit 50-plus home runs in a year, like Pete Alonso in 2019, won’t be doing that. Every single game matters more than it ever has. ESPN reporter Jessica Mendoza spoke on just how historic this season will be.
The Tampa Bay Rays and the Miami Marlins will open their seasons on Friday.
Sound courtesy of ABC Newscall.