Ah, Opening Day! My favorite holiday of the year. There’s nothing like the first game of the season to symbolize hope.
Opening Day signals the end of winter and the beginning of spring (no matter how much more it might snow.)
On Opening Day, every team is tied for first place.
This summer, records will be broken, new heroes will emerge, and we’ll see at least one play that will elicit the delighted cry of I’ve never seen that before! from even the most veteran of baseball fans, and that wonderful journey through another season begins today.
No one can tell you how any season will turn out, especially in baseball, but I have a homemade formula for predicting team performance that is pretty accurate. Simply add up the number of “ifs” for all the teams in a division and then rank them from least to most. If you say about your team, “If we can find a closer and if that rookie has a decent year in left field, we’ll win our share,” then your team will probably have a very successful season. If you say those two things about your team, plus a dozen more “ifs,” then your team is probably destined for the basement. Some ifs are more important than others, but generally this formula works out. The most exciting summers occur when all of some team’s ifs come to pass and the team enjoys a Cinderella season.
Having said all that, I offer a few observations for a couple of loyal readers as well as observations on our two local teams:
Jerry Lane, despite third baseman Justin Turner’s broken wrist, I look for your Dodgers to win the National League West again. Even if they finish 10 games worse than last year (which I predict) that will still net them 94 wins.
Dick Snyder, your Yankees are being over-hyped. Smart fan that you are, I’m sure you’re nervous about the fact that many have anointed them American League East champs before one pitch has even been thrown. The Yankees’ “ifs” always tend to be overlooked and the East might be more bunched than anyone now imagines.
For all my Nationals fans out there, I say that this may finally be the year. The Mets will be stronger than last year, the Braves have improved, and the Phillies are much improved and this in-season competition will make the Nats a tougher, more resilient team. Because they won’t run away with the division, they will be better prepped for the playoffs.
Finally, my beloved Orioles are going to surprise people as they usuall
y do. They’ll be better than if for no other reason, they won’t have Jeremy Hellickson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Wade Miley in this year’s rotation. That Terrible Trio, along with Chris Tillman, combined for a 6.62 earned run average in 2018, which means that even if the Birds slotted Jerry, Dick, and me behind Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, the starting staff would be better. Just don’t ask me to cover first—I don’t think I can run that far anymore.
Happy Opening Day, everyone!