The Marks Post: The great American pastime returns
We are still in the midst of everything that is plaguing our society today, but, beginning tonight, all will be right with the world for at least the next 60 days. The reason is tonight is Opening Day of Major League Baseball.
I know what some of you are thinking that there are more things important than baseball. I argue baseball is what our nation needs right now. Baseball, like sports in general, is a distraction from what is going on in our lives. For nine innings, it is as if the world stops. Baseball is also a great unifier. Go to any baseball game or any establishment to watch a game, and you will see people of all colors, races, and religions celebrating with each other when a home run is launched over the fence.
Enough of the philosophicals. Let me get down to this year.
The season begins with what I call the Pope Benedict XVI Series as the defending World Series Champion Washington Nationals host the New York Yankees. I call it the Pope Benedict XVI Series because the pope said Mass at both of their home stadiums when he came to the United States six years ago.
The night cap tonight will be the Los Angeles Dodgers renewing their rivalry with the San Francisco Giants that dates back to the days of Ebbets Field and the Polo Grounds in New York.
Action picks up in earnest tomorrow as the other 26 teams begin their seasons. My Chicago Cubs begin the season at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field against the Milwaukee Brewers.
As for the Cubs, look for them to make some noise this year. Before I say why, let me go over a few changes to this season.
The season is only 60 games. The old saying is “it’s a marathon not a sprint.” But, this year it is most definitely a sprint. The schedule will match up teams against their divisional opponents and interleague opponents from their same geographical area. That means the east will play the east and so on. This season will have the universal designated hitter. I am a baseball purist and am against the DH. But, with the schedule the way it is, I see the reasons why.
Getting back to the Cubs, I think they are well suited to handle all the changes to the season.
The primary reason is because of the universal DH. The Cubs have a log jam of players who can swing a hot bat. The universal DH gives them an extra slot to get one of those hitters in the lineup. The main suspect is left fielder Kyle Schwarber. Just look at his numbers as DH against the Indians in the 2016 World Series. But, new manager, former catcher David Ross, has options to plug into the DH role especially with the addition of former Indian and hometown boy Jason Kipnis and fellow new comer Steven Souza Jr.
There is a question mark surrounding the Cubs. That is the health of first baseman Anthony Rizzo who is dealing with a hurt back. In his absence, Victor Caratini is more than capable. I compare this year with Rizzo to 2016 with Schwarber. Schwarber was virtually out the whole season with injury but came back for the World Series. The Cubs should keep Rizzo sidelined until they need him for this year’s Fall Classic.
So, let’s cue up the pipe organ and enjoy some popcorn and cracker jack because there is new grass on the field.