WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Play ball, Westchester!
Yankee and Met fans came together Monday, March 31, for Opening Day, celebrating America’s pastime as Major League Baseball officially kicks off its regular season schedule.
Although the Mets started their regular season on Monday at home against the Washington Nationals and the Yankees open up in Houston on Tuesday, April 1, the season actually started last week, when two National League West teams squared off in a good-will game in Australia. The first stateside game of the season took place Sunday night, March 30, in San Diego, with the Padres edging the Dodgers 3-1.
In White Plains, Mamaroneck resident James Connors said that while he believes Opening Day should be a national holiday, he refuses to observe it until the first Yankee game of the season.
“This is what we’ve been waiting all winter for. Even if it snowed earlier (on Monday), the beginning of baseball and the end of the NCAA tournament mark the beginning of spring,” he said. “I try to take off from work every year to make sure I can watch but couldn’t this year. Guess I’ll just be listening at my computer.”
The beginning of the regular season marks an annual reincarnation of hope for all baseball fans.
This offseason, the Yankees went on a nearly $500 million shopping spree to bring in coveted free agents such as catcher Brian McCann from the Atlanta Braves and Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka, who was undefeated last season overseas.
The Mets’ chances this season took a major blow at the end of last season, when ace Matt Harvey was lost to a torn elbow ligament, ending his rookie year and putting his sophomore campaign in question. Despite losing their best pitcher, the Mets signed outfielder Chris Young and starter Bartolo Colon to serve as a veteran presence for their talented young pitching.
While their chances may look grim on March 31, lifelong Mets fan Rich Bautista, who has done some youth baseball coaching, said, “You gotta believe!”
“It’s going to suck not having ‘Matt Harvey Day’ every week, but I think [the Mets] may have a chance to surprise some teams in a weak division,” the New Rochelle resident said. “I’m just happy that for the next six months, we’ll get to enjoy baseball almost every day.”
New Rochelle native Frank Thibodeau, a self-admitted “purist,” noted that he doesn’t support the annual overseas game and believes that Opening Day should feature every team playing an actual day game.
“Everyone jokes about making it a national holiday, but they’ve really bastardized the fanfare of it with their money grab. Think about it, America’s national pastime celebrated Opening Day in Australia more than a week ago,” he said. “I’m all for spreading the game and bringing in fans, but there needs to be a limit.”