MLB Opening Day is Finally Here: What You Need to Know About the 2018 MLB Season

The warm weather days and laid-back feel of preseason baseball have come to an end. It’s time to put away the spring training jerseys and get ready for the start of the 2018-2019 MLB season. Opening Day is an exciting moment for teams and fans who are gifted with a clean slate. Hope fills each stadium as fans make impossible predictions of how their team will do, and how this will be “their year.” So what should fans know before the first pitch of Opening Day 2018? Here are some key notes to get you ready:

The MLB is expanding globally. Baseball is an international game played by people of all different cultures and ethnicities. This past season the percentage of players of color in the MLB was 42.5 percent, the highest in league history. 

The 2018 season will feature two games played between the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians in San Juan, Puerto Rico from April 17-18. This year won’t be the first time the MLB travels outside of the continental U.S., as teams have played on Opening Day in Mexico, Japan, and Australia in the past. There are plans for Opening Day to be in Asia in 2019 and 2020 as well as for regular season games to be played in England. In the end, it’s a marketing move that will hopefully benefit fans from abroad who may finally have the opportunity see their favorite players compete in person.

The game is speeding up – or at least trying to. One of the largest criticisms of baseball (even by its fans) is that it takes too long. The average length of a regular season game during the 2017-2018 season was three hours and five minutes, the longest average in MLB history. Fans have complained is that it takes too long to get to the good stuff, typically the last three innings of the game. In comparison, NBA games only take two hours on average. As a result, the MLB has added several new rules to minimize the wasted time in between the action. 

One significant change will be enforcing a 30-second limit for managers to decide whether to challenge a call (a rule now necessary because of the previous addition of a rule allowing managers to use replay). Also, replay officials will now have to make decisions within two minutes, although this will not be enforced as a hard limit (meaning it really doesn’t change anything). In the end, these new rules are nice thoughts, but fans are unlikely to notice a real difference.

The game is getting younger. This is why it doesn’t matter that baseball games seem to take forever – because in those moments of action we continuously find ourselves amazed by the pure talent and skill of young players. We watch as unknown names become household names, as players who only just earned their own jersey begin leading the league in jersey sales. Fans await to discover who will be this year’s Cody Bellinger – a 22-year-old outfielder who made baseball cool again in Los Angeles. What new face will captivate an entire city to the point that they wear judge wigs and robes as rookie Aaron Judge did? Perhaps previously seen as a sport featuring old men in varying degrees of shape, the image of baseball is getting a makeover through the performances of increasingly young players who have made real impacts.

The MLB season is a long one, spanning from late March to November. A lot will happen between the first and last pitch of the season, which starts with 30 hopeful teams and ends with only one victor. The players have done all they can to prepare for Opening Day and so have we, the fans and unpaid analysts. Now it is time to sit back and watch as the season unfolds – hopefully just as each of us have predicted.

Contact Michael Tom at [email protected].