MLB Opening Day Showdown
MLB season kicks off with a showdown between the Yankees and Nationals, on July 23rd. (MLB)

MLB Opening Day Showdown

Major League Baseball announced last week that starting July 23rd, the 2020 season would finally commence. A showdown between the defending World Series Champions, Washington Nationals, and the evil empire, New York Yankees, is the lone game on tap for the pre-opening day, opening day.

For the Yankees, who they’ll send out to pitch game one is a no brainer: $314 Million man, Gerrit Cole. They don’t pay him the big bucks for nothing. Well actually yes so far, they’ve paid him for nothing, according to NJ.com, Cole earned $268,500 in total between April and May. While that’s significantly less than he’d make during a normal season, that’s still more than four times the average yearly salary of a person in the United States. It must be nice to be rich.

The Nationals have multiple options for their game one starter. World Series (WS) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Stephen Strasburg seems like the obvious choice, but he’s got stiff competition from former three-time Cy Young Award winner, Max Scherzer, and even Patrick Corbin. Wouldn’t it be funny if the Nats had Corbin go out there and pitch to the Yankees only a year after he spurned them? If George Steinbrenner were still around, Corbin would be wearing Yankee pinstripes, but alas, he went to Washington after they offered him the coveted sixth year that no one else was willing to give.

Postseason play didn’t bring out Corbin’s best stuff, two wins and three losses in eight games with a 5.79 ERA, yet he finished second on the team in total wins during the regular season, 14, only behind Strasburg. But everyone knows that even with his great first season, the real competition is between Strasburg and Scherzer.

Between the two work courses, the Nats were able to win eight of the 12 games they appeared in, with both only giving up eight earned runs. Now, that’s a killer one-two punch. Whichever pitcher does end up starting the game, they’re going to face one of the hardest and farthest hitting teams from last season.

Without Giancarlo Stanton for most of the season (only appeared in 18 games) and with Aaron Judge missing 60 games, the Bronx Bombers more than lived up to their nickname crushing 306 home runs last season. What’s crazy is that wasn’t even enough for the MLB record, falling one shy of the Minnesota Twins, who accomplished the feat in 2019. Judge, by the way, finished fourth on the team with 27 home runs, finishing ahead of DJ LeMahieu, the do-it-all second baseman who finished fourth in AL MVP voting in his first season with the Yankees.

A healthy Yankees squad, for the most part – looking at you Severino, can hit and throw with any team in the MLB, even the defending WS champs. The opening day matchup is going to be one watched by millions across the globe, and they will not be disappointed.

Opening day this year represents a sense of normalcy, an attempt at returning to the life everyone had before Covid-19 reared its ugly head and shut down the globe for almost six months. While it’s still up in the air if fans will be allowed at games (even though most likely at half capacity, at best), Baseball is America’s pastime. The sport people watch during the summer, accompanied by a nice juicy burger and a cold one in hand.

This is not an ordinary opening day. It’s the start of a whole new ball game.