Is there anything sweeter than hearing the first crack of a bat of the season? Or maybe it’s the first thwack of a fastball that slams into the catcher’s glove that gives you goosebumps? It could be the first hit or the first homerun or the first “strike three” you hear from the umpire’s mouth, but there’s something for everyone to be excited about on Opening Day, especially if you’re a Yankees fan in 2018.
Last year the Yankees were, for the first time in a long time, easy to cheer for, even if you were an opposing fan. They were young, unproven and simply not supposed to be very good. It was a season where they were supposed to lay the ground work for bigger things. Well, if the groundwork is game 7 of the ALCS then there really is only one bigger task—the World Series.
The Yankees improved this off-season; they’re healthier and more powerful. They fixed some gaping holes and still have financial flexibility to improve during the season, if needed. They also have some very good young talent just waiting for their opportunity to break through in the majors. There’s a lot to be excited about for this team as they prepare to step on the field in Toronto.
Opening Day has an almost fairy-tale like aura about it and it’s been a number of years since the Yankees have finished with that storybook ending. This Yankees team has the ability to change that, though, but it all begins with Opening Day. Everyone is even on day one and no matter how good a team looks, we all know games aren’t played on paper. Every team has a chance to do something magical, last year’s Yankees proved that. On paper, that team shouldn’t have competed like it did. All the pundits said they were too young and too inexperienced and their veterans were too old. They didn’t listen. They played baseball and they won, a lot.
Believe it or not, the Yankees have a 70% turnover from their 2017 Opening Day lineup. While everyone is talking about Stanton and Judge, the two most important players for this team could actually be Gregorius and Sanchez. Both players missed about a month of playing time last year due to injury and they’re both happy to fly under the radar. The big boppers might each knock 45+ homers but don’t be surprised if, with a full season, Sanchez approaches those same tallies. Same thing with Gregorius, in only 136 games he put up 25 homeruns. Would it really be a shock if he hits 30 or more? I haven’t even mentioned what a healthy Greg Bird might do when he returns. In half a season, he could be a 20+ homerun guy—if he stays healthy. In the end though, this team could be something great.
There’s a lot to be excited for if you’re a Yankees fan. There’s a lot to be excited for if you’re a baseball fan. Opening Day is one of the most thrilling days of the year, it really should be a National Holiday—I mean it is America’s Pastime, but I digress.
Over the upcoming days, 30 teams will begin a journey. For most, the journey will end after 162 games have been played but a select few who earn a postseason berth will play on for the ultimate prize. It all begins with one day. One day of hope. One day of promise. One day where you can dream. Man, Opening Day sure is exciting.