As the nation tumbles through 2021, Major League Baseball finds its way back, just as in previous years. Spring training has come to a close, bringing out baseball fans around the country.
Opening Day of the 2021 season arrived on April 1, with 26 of the 30 teams taking the field for a day of momentous baseball. After a shortened season during the previous year, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, this season offers new guidelines and codes for the safety of both the players and fans.
2021 also brings some new rules for baseball games that stretch into overtime. As reported by Sports Illustrated “As part of the pandemic-season rule changes last year, MLB introduced its new, and somewhat controversial, extra-innings format. During the regular season, all extra innings began with a runner on second base and no outs. Just like seven-inning doubleheaders, the extra-innings rule carried over into the 2021 season.”
This rule caused a lot of controversy on opening day when the New York Yankees lost against the Toronto Blue Jays. Yankees fans were fed up with the rule even though the extra innings code being cut does not benefit them. Of course, fans will be upset when their team loses, but the rule does not benefit anybody if the other team can’t play ball, especially when the Yankees lost 4-3 against the Baltimore Orioles. According to Alicia de Artola on Fansided, “The Orioles took the lead in the 10th when Gleyber Torres missed a throw and Anthony Santander made it home from his spot on second. The run was critical as NY scored as well in the bottom of the 10th. To be fair to the Yankees, they aren’t set up to benefit from the rule as a power-hitting team. Teams who play small ball have a built-in advantage when it comes to driving in the runner on second.”
Though the 2020 World Series winners haven’t caused as much public outcry or media attention as the Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been keeping up with their great playing streak with a total of eight games won and only two lost. On opening day the Dodgers started their season by playing the Colorado Rockies and overall have a long-running streak against them. That streak could be continued today, Wednesday, and Thursday, as the Dodgers are scheduled to play the Rockies. With LA and NY being two of the only games played on ESPN, the 2021 opening day produced action-packed games of baseball that included several thrilling moments.
Unfortunately, the Washington Nationals have not been playing as well as some Nats fans had hoped. Currently, in the National League East, Washington, D.C. is ranked at the bottom with an overall two games won and five games lost. As this had probably been upsetting to many fans here at home, last night the Nationals beat the St. Louis Cardinals with a final score of 5-2. Additionally, three D.C. players, Josh Bell, Josh Harrison, and Kyle Schwarber have just recently gotten off the IL, just in time for their return in the lineup against St. Louis. After a team-wide Covid outbreak, the three players were cleared for return before any more damage could be done to the Nationals.
One of the best and most watch-worthy games of the opening day included the New York Mets at Washington Nationals. Earlier this year the Mets were predicted to make it to the playoffs. As reported by Action Network, “The Mets sit atop the NL East standings according to the entire projection market, expected to win 91.5 games per FanGraphs, 93 games per Davenport, and 94.2 games by both PECOTA and my own model”. “As far as the Mets’ projected win total for the 2021 season, according to Sportsline, the trade increased their win projection from 86.5 to 87.3. Cleveland saw its projected 89.3 wins drop to 87.2 wins after losing Lindor. The Mets’ new projected win total actually ranks them as third-most in the National League, behind the Dodgers and Braves.”
With more games to come over the next several months, we’re excited to see which teams play to win and which play to train. Small ball or big game, it sure expected to be a great season. Hopefully, with the new rules and the aftermath of 2020, the MLB association will strive to make it a safe and enjoyable year. Whoever we each choose to root for it’s clear which teams (Dodgers and Yankees) are going to make it far. Although after the last couple of week’s worth of games with New York, I might be contradicting myself here. Nonetheless, LA is sure to excel after being first in the NL West, and having the most wins this year. We’ll see what happens for the Nationals and Other teams that make headway, but for now, let’s enjoy the beginning of the season and expectantly a tough year on our players.