MLB Opening Night 2.0 Is In The Books

Leave it to 2020 to take a steaming hot dump on everything nice. We have been waiting months for baseball to return and we got the Yankees vs Nationals to only have the heavens open up and drop buckets of rain on the DC area. The game was called in the 6th inning giving the Yankees the first win of the pandemic area in Major League Baseball.

In the night cap, the Dodgers battled it out with the Giants for the six innings until the boys in blue put their foot on the gas, scoring seven runs in the seventh and eighth inning to give the Dodgers an 8-1 victory over their hated rivals.

It was a beautiful sight to see meaningful baseball back on our screens and while it’s going to take some getting used to, overall, the new procedures that have been set in place were a tremendous success from the viewers standpoint. I personally love the cardboard cut-outs in the stands, I think it gives it a far more visually pleasing look to the broadcast. The Nationals did not have any cut-outs and it seemed depressing, perhaps it was a mix of that and the brutal weather but it felt dreary. On the flip side, Dodger stadium seemed to have more energy, the pumped in crowd noise was done better, the cut-outs made the stadium feel occupied and the beautiful Los Angeles weather always makes for a phenomenal evening backdrop.

Before the start of the Yankees and Nationals game, MLB announced that they would be expanding the post-season for this season from 10 teams to 16 teams. There will be no byes and the first round series will consist of three games all at the ballpark of the team with the better record. In each league, the 1 seed will play the 8 seed, the 2 seed will play the 7 seed and so on and so forth. In each league, the division winners will be the three highest seeds, then followed by the three second place teams in each division and the final two spots will be taken up by the two teams from any division with the best record. This creates more must-watch television for baseball and honestly, I think I like the format, so let’s call this opening round the “Wild Card” round after that we are right back to the Division Series with four teams and then the Championship Series with the remaining two teams from each league with their normal five and seven game formats. More playoff baseball is good for the soul. Yes, it scares me that the Dodgers will be bounced in three games by an 8-seed and this format will cause more upsets and more champions who get hot at the right time, but it will for sure make it exciting. It will be interesting to see if baseball sticks with this format after this season or goes back to the wild-card play in game format. If I had to vote right now, I think the 16 team format is far more appealing than the wild card play-in game that we have been working with recently.

On the field, the Yankees put their recipe for success on full display, have the big bats launch homers and have Gerrit Cole shove it down your throat. Giancarlo Stanton is going to be the Yankees most productive player in my opinion if he stays healthy. He has been ridiculed by the harsh reality of Yankee fans and the ability to not play in front of fans for sixty games could do wonders for his confidence and endear him with the Yankee fan base. Cole is hands down the best pitcher in the American League and he put it on display last night, aside from a home run that he served up to Adam Eaton he was dominant.

The Dodgers relied on Kike Hernandez who had four hits including a home-run to propel them to victory against the Giants. Kershaw was scratched from his customary opening day start because of a sore back so the Dodgers recalled the “Red Rifle” Dustin May who casually showed up chucking 100 MPH and allowing only one run through five innings. The Dodgers bullpen was untouchable and they took care of the Giants late to win their opener.

We get a full slate of baseball tonight and for that I am very grateful, it finally feels like a sense of normalcy is in the air, I hope it lasts throughout the season and we get to see how this shortened unique season will actually play out.