Baseball is back with Opening Day

Harrison Simon, Sports Editor

Tomorrow, April 1, baseball is back. It has been nearly six months since the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in six games to win its first World Series since 1988. The 2020 season was unlike any other, as the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented 60-game season. This season, schedules will be back to normal, as all 30 teams will play the standard 162-game season.

The Dodgers, who have won the NL West each of the past eight seasons, return nearly their entire starting lineup. Led by superstar outfielder Mookie Betts, who won both Silver Slugger and Gold Glove honors last season, the Dodgers are once again one of the best teams in baseball. On top of a rotation already featuring Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Julio Urías, the Dodgers signed reigning Cy Young award winner Trevor Bauer to a three-year, $102 million deal. The Dodgers have a legitimate chance at becoming the first repeat champions since the New York Yankees won it all in 1998, 1999 and 2000.

One team expected to take a major leap this season is the New York Mets. The Mets’ ownership changed hands this offseason when hedge fund manager Steve Cohen bought the team from Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Cohen, an immediate fan favorite, has been incredibly vocal, often discussing team issues with fans via Twitter. Cohen has already made several big moves, which started with him firing the entire front office on the day of his hiring. Cohen also traded for two stars, shortstop Francisco Lindor and starting pitcher Carlos “Cookie” Carrasco, from the Cleveland Indians. 

With the Mets hoping to sign Lindor to an extension this season, the question is how far the team can go. Jacob DeGrom is still one of the three best pitchers in baseball, and the Opening Day lineup featuring great power and contact hitting in Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil

The Mets may have a great season, but there’s a decent chance they won’t have the best record in New York City. The Yankees, as per usual, will have a loaded lineup on Opening Day. The team was devastated by injuries last season, but if the lineup can stay healthy, there’s no reason why players like Gerrit Cole, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and countless others can’t lead the Yanks on a quest for their 28th World Series title in franchise history.

There will be a few rule changes this season that were adopted for last year’s modified season. The two major rule changes will be seven-inning doubleheaders, and teams will start with a runner on second base in extra innings. The universal designated hitter will not be implemented this season.

Baseball fans have waited long enough for April 1, and at last, Opening Day is upon us. Play ball!