The trying year that was 2020 saw the world flipped upside down, with baseball as a mere footnote in the story of the global pandemic. Sports were hardly a concern as millions of people became infected and hundreds of thousands died from COVID-19.
Then came an unnatural 60-game sprint (which started in late July) that was clouded by bad faith negotiations between the MLB owners and players association. The two sides spent months arguing about money and saved the whole safety protocol thing for last. The priorities were out of wack.
But we can almost safely put all of that in the rearview. Tens of millions of people are vaccinated. We’re turning a corner. And just over 10,000 lucky fans will get to see Gerrit Cole take the mound against the Toronto Blue Jays at 1:05 p.m. ET.
Yup, the Yankees will have a true ace pitching on Opening Day for the second year in a row. Except this time it’s at home, will hopefully be a full nine-inning game uninterrupted by weather, and there will be spectators.
Now how about a stacked lineup for ya? It’s what the Yankees do best.
Aaron Judge is there! We weren’t going to believe it until we saw it after what had transpired over the weekend and into Monday. However, Luke Voit, who will be out until at least May, won’t be part of the festivities. Jay Bruce will take over at first base. What else is a bit weird? Brett Gardner not in the Opening Day lineup. It was expected, but finally looking at the card without his name on it certainly feels … different.
But he’ll be coming off the bench at some point with Clint Frazier taking over as the starting left fielder. The young slugger earned his keep with a tremendous showing in 2020, and now he’ll have a full 162-game slate to solidify his status with the team.
Anyone mad about Hicks batting third? Get it out now, because we’re tossing the negative vibes to the curb right before first pitch. At least DJ LeMahieu is leading off and Giancarlo Stanton is batting cleanup. Those are the constants that make everyone feel at home.
We’ll see some new faces this year, but there will also be pivotal campaigns for guys like Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez, both of whom really need a good start to 2021 after their uninspiring 2020 performances. If they can take the necessary steps, this roster will be nearly unstoppable.
Whoops, we forgot to mention Gio the God. Starting at third and batting sixth after undergoing elbow surgery in December. He’s as ready as the rest of us.
Let’s. Go. Yankees.