MLB Opens 2021 Season with Series of Close Games

After six months without competitive baseball, Major League Baseball (MLB) opened its 2021 season on Thursday, April 1. The league has made it their mission to make baseball more appealing to the average fan, testing rules in the Minor Leagues to see if the game can move faster and become more entertaining. None of those rules have reached the MLB yet, but this season is already looking like a more exciting brand of baseball. 

Fans are back in every MLB stadium. While the Texas Rangers are allowing 100% capacity at Globe Life Field in Arlington, most stadiums are limiting capacity to maintain public health protocols. 2020’s 60-games of humming noises and pumped-in crowd noises are gleefully gone. Even at 10% capacity, it is invigorating to see some of the approximately 40,000 seats filled in MLB stadiums. The crowds have been lively, assuring players and fans at home can feel the renewed, hopeful energy that comes with a new season of baseball. 

Eight of the thirteen games played on opening day were decided by one run, including two walk-off hits from the Phillies and the Brewers, respectively. Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez shined after a rough 2020 season, hitting a two-run homer and catching a runner stealing. However, that wasn’t enough to help the Yankees, as they lost to the Blue Jays in extra innings. The Tigers and Indians played through a snowstorm in Detroit. Los Angeles Angels 41-year-old first-basemen Albert Pujols, in his 21st MLB Opening Day start, hit his 663rd career home run, a noteworthy accomplishment at this stage in his career; the Machine might never break.

The Dodgers had a particularly strange opening day. Center Fielder Cody Bellinger blasted a home run that was called out after a baserunning mistake by veteran third baseman Justin Turner. Turner thought the homer was ruled foul and started trotting back towards first base. Bellinger passed Turner on the basepath, causing Bellinger to be called out for passing the runner ahead of him. This blunder, combined with Clayton Kershaw giving up six runs, put the reigning champions in an exceptionally deep hole, leading to an 8-5 opening day loss to the Colorado Rockies.

Even as the season seems to be returning to normal with fans cheering in the stands, the day was still overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mets-Nationals series was postponed after three Nationals players tested positive for the virus. The Mets were hoping to open the Steve Cohen era right, after signing recently acquired shortstop Francisco Lindor to a 10 year, $341 million extension. At 27, Lindor is considered one of the best shortstops in the league. Cohen made it a point of emphasis to lock up the young shortstop for his prime. Now, the Mets have a powerful shortstop on their side as they race the Yankees for the New York crown and a World Series title.

As the weather gets warmer, baseball will continue its journey into October. There are still six months of baseball before we get to the postseason but if Opening Day is any indication, the 2021 season will be a great new beginning for professional baseball.