As if the start of a new baseball season needed any added anticipation after a contentious Presidential election and a long winter, the schedule makers of Major League Baseball have provided fans with several intriguing match ups on the slate of opening series. These games include a battle between two old time rivals that will be broadcast on National television.
Though they will certainly be noteworthy games, not one of the match ups will be a historical first like an opening series last year. For the first time ever the two clubs who met in the previous World Series faced off on Opening Day in 2016, when the New York Mets played the Royals at Kansas City’s Kaufman Stadium.
The team that won the World Series last October, the Chicago Cubs, does not have to open the 2017 season against the American League champion Cleveland Indians. The North Siders do, however, begin play against their most bitter rival, the Cardinals.
St. Louis battles the Cubs on the first Sunday of the season, a night game broadcast on ESPN. The match up between the two top teams in the N.L. Central division will be even more intriguing in that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler left Chicago over the winter to become the leadoff hitter for the Cardinals.
Another exciting season opener features two teams from the National League West division, the Giants and Diamondbacks. The first game of the series pits Cy Young Award winners, as left hander Madison Bumgarner takes the mound for San Francisco while right hander Zack Greineke gets the start for Arizona.
Over in the American League, the most interesting opener is Baltimore. The Orioles face the Blue Jays, who eliminated them in the eleven inning Wild Card game that ended without Baltimore manager Buck Schowalter utilizing All-Star closer Zach Britton.
Toronto then went on to the next round only to be eliminated in five games in the championship series by the Indians, who themselves have an interesting series to open 2017. Pennant-winning Cleveland goes against the Rangers, the team that boasted the best record in the Junior Circuit last year.
One inter league series is on the slate for the first weekend in April, as the Pirates host last season’s A.L. East champion Boston. It marks just the second time in history that the Red Sox make a visit to Pittsburgh, a unique stat when one considers the long existence of both storied organizations.