We are officially in the part of Spring Training where I am ready for regular season baseball. Sure Spring Training is fun when the players first begin to report and watching positional battles. But with most spots decided, I am ready for Opening Day.
1. Fans in the Stands
While it was nice to get baseball last year, it’s just not the same without fans. Seeing Yankees fans, either in the Bronx or on the road, is always a nice sight and makes the game-day experience more enjoyable. Hearing the Bronx faithful heckle an opposing pitcher or calling Aaron Judge back to the field after a towering shot makes the games feel electric.
2. Gerrit Cole
Last year, we were lucky to see Gerrit Cole take the mound for the first time in pinstripes. While Cole was dominant, I am expecting an even better season this year. Cole is a legitimate number one ace and will be ready to mow down the Blue Jays hitters.
3. Beginning of Brett Gardner’s (likely) Final Season
This year will likely be Brett Gardner’s final season in the Bronx, and maybe in baseball. While Gardner will not quite be in the same company as a Jeter, Rivera, or Ruth, he has been a good Yankee for a long time. Always playing the game the right way, Gardner has been an emotional leader and I won’t be surprised if he finds a way to make an impact.
4. A Healthy Judge and Stanton
In the playoffs last year, we saw how dangerous Stanton can be. 2018 he was good, 2019 and 2020 he was hurt, but this year it’s time for him to return to his former-MVP days. This season, I am expecting a fantastic season from Stanton who with Judge will form a dominant power-hitting lineup. Plus, with Judge returning from injury, the rest of baseball should be scared.
5. Clint Frazier…Finally
No player has been debatably as polarizing as the Yankees’ young outfielder in recent Yankees’ memory. From a hated defensive liability to an electric player that deserves more playing time, to restoring his top prospect status, Red Thunder is here to stay. After a nice run last season, Frazier will finally get the playing time he deserves.
6. Opening Day Traditions
On Opening Day, I like to imagine that I am in the ballpark. From cooking hotdogs to keeping score of the game, Opening Day is one of my favorite days of the year. Opening Day traditions, from being at the Stadium to the comfort of one’s own home, is always something to enjoy.
7. The Family Groupchat
In my family, as soon as the Yankee game starts, we all grab our phones and start instantly chatting about the action. From my parents in central Pennsylvania to me in Philly and my brother in Vermont, as soon as the Yankees start playing we are all instantly connected by our common rooting interest.
8. Putting Toronto in Their Place
A lot has been said about the Blue Jays. Their young talent is enviable and the addition of Springer (*bang, *bang) and Semien will certainly make them a problem. However, I fully believe the Yankees are better. Our pitching is better and our hitting is at least on par, if not slightly better. While some are picking Toronto to win the AL East, I think Opening Day will throw some needed cold water on that parade.
One player that always seems ready on Opening Day is Luke Voit. From his homer against the Orioles in 2019 to leading the league in homers in a shortened season, I expect Voit to continue growing as a dominant baseball player. This year, I expect him to elevate his play a step further and gain serious consideration as one of the best players in the league.
10. Yankees Social Media and the Bronx Pinstripes Community
Seeing passionate Yankees fans on Twitter or Facebook is always fun. Watching the game as a community, discussing plays or managerial decisions and sharing the joy of wins and agonies of defeat is always a treat. Then listening to podcasts discussing trends and analyzing the team is always a fun listen.
Yankees regular season baseball is almost back! As we focus on these last few days of Spring Training, how are you planning to celebrate Opening Day?