The beginning of April can only mean one thing for sports fans, Opening Day for Major League Baseball. It is that special time of the year where all 30 teams in the MLB leave sunny Florida, besides for the Rays and Marlins, and head back home to start the regular season.
"Opening Day is like a holiday for baseball fans, I absolutely love it," said Ramapo senior Shawn Kernor, a New York Mets fan.
A petition sponsored by Budweiser and Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith proposed to make Opening Day a federal holiday, citing that they wanted to, "make sure every American can exercise their inalienable right to celebrate the day." The petition managed to gain over 100,000 signatures, yet the White House claimed it was, "a little outside their strike zone," since creating a federal holiday is the responsibility of Congress.
There is a lot of excitement heading into the 2014 season, especially for the New York Yankees. After seeing the arch rival Boston Red Sox bring home the title for the third time in nine seasons, the Yankees went out and spent nearly $500 million during the free agency to get back into postseason ball. Some of these additions include a potential Hall of Famer in Carlos Beltran, a former Met, and Jacoby Ellsbury from the Red Sox. The Yankees also crossed their influence, passed the Pacific and won the bidding war for Japanese pitching ace, Masahiro Tanaka, who was 24-0 the previous season with the Rakuten Eagles in Japan. Tanaka, who arrived in New York on a rented out commercial jet, signed a seven year deal for nearly $200 million.
This massive spending spree did not prove to do much for the team however, after losing their first two games to the Houston Astros, a perennial cellar team. To put it into perspective, the Houston Astros payroll for the 2014 season is roughly $21 million; The New York Yankees have five players on their roster who each make more money than that this year, including Alex Rodriguez who will not play in a single game this season. The Yankees' payroll is nearly five times as much as the Houston Astros, yet the Bombers lost two out of three games and were outscored 11-7. If the Yankees continue at this pace, Derek Jeter's final season may end without a postseason appearance.
The Yankees may be struggling right now, but they have a lot less concern than the New York Mets. The Mets received bad news in November after finding All Star pitcher Matt Harvey would miss just about the entire season to have Tommy John surgery. The Mets were able to compensate by signing aging, yet efficient, Bartolo Colon from the Oakland Athletics who went 18-6 last season. If Opening Day proved anything about the Mets, it is that their bullpen is in need of much help. Starting pitcher Dillon Gee, who won the number one spot in the rotation by default, put the Mets in position to win their opener against playoff contender Washington Nationals. Yet, the bullpen allowed six runs in three innings of work, including walking in the game-tying run in the seventh inning. The Mets lost the game 9-5 in 10 innings, leading to a bad start to a promised, "90-win season," by General Manager Sandy Alderson.
Samuel Maruscak, a senior at Ramapo and an avid Mets fan, thinks that the 90-win promise is, "unrealistic, especially with the bullpen blowing games the way they have been."
There are far too many storylines to follow in the 2014 season, just helping build the excitement for every team. All eyes are on a potential slugfest between Angels' Mike Trout and Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, who can possibly have a showdown as intense as the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa homerun record chase of 1998. Trout and Cabrera both signed massive deals in the offseason, Trout, who is just 22-years-old, will make roughly $24 million the next six seasons, and Cabrera will make a record-breaking $292 million deal for the next decade. Both are expected to lead their stacked teams toward October ball, and with the depth on each team, it is safe to expect big time numbers from both players in all hitting categories.
The best part about Opening Day is the optimism and expectation of every player on all 30 teams in the MLB. Every team starts the season tied for first place in their division and pining for a playoff spot. As All-Time great Joe DiMaggio once said, "You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you're a kid."