MLB’s opens season with same faces in different places


Tribune News Service

Opening Day logo. MLB 2017

Kristen Burgess, Contributing Writer

Opening Day for Major League Baseball took place Sunday, April 2, with a 7-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays over the New York Yankees. Among the other teams to kick off opening day included the 2016 World Series champion the Chicago Cubs as they matched up against the St. Louis Cardinals. The New York Mets will face the Atlanta Braves on Monday preceding the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Boston Red Sox.

This season Major League Baseball is ushering in a new vibe of springtime in America. As Red Sox fans prepare to begin the 2017 season without David “Big Papi” Ortiz, Los Angeles has said goodbye to Vin Scully, who retired from calling Dodgers games after a 67-year career. Umpire Joe West said in preparation for the 2017 season, “This game isn’t ours, it’s America’s game — and we’re just here to protect it.”

The Yankees, with their impressive exhibition season performance, will also say goodbye to crowd-favorite backup catcher David Ross, who retired after last season. Gone are the days for New York with legends like Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Instead, the team has opted for a more youthful route. Gary Sanchez, who joined the Yankees last season, was able to hit twenty of the fastest home runs Major League Baseball has ever seen.

MLB has not seen repeated World Series Champions since the New York Yankees did it from 1998 to 2000, but the Chicago Cubs plan on doing just that. Currently, the National League has not sent the same group of teams to playoffs in back-to-back years. Ace pitcher Jake Arrieta said, “But I think within this clubhouse, the pressure we put on ourselves and the expectations we set individually are higher than they are externally. Dealing with pressure, I think, is a good thing. It shows you care.”

But the chemistry will change slightly this season for the Cubs as center fielder Dexter Fowler begins opening day playing for the St. Louis Cardinals and closing the Chicago chapter in his life.

One Cub to watch out for this season is outfielder Albert Almora, whom Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations for the Cubs, said “We want to give [him] some room to grow in the big leagues, and we’ve protected him a little bit with Jon Jay. The two of those guys complementing each other will help us win.”

Cubs fans should not mourn the loss of Dexter Fowler too much, as the chemistry between Almora and Jay is unfathomable.