Opening Day: Not What Was Expected

Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire

Not what a Yankees’ or Mets’ fan expected on the Thursday “holiday” known as Opening Day of a new baseball season. Chilly up in the Bronx in weather that was more appropriate for football. No game in Washington D.C. for the Mets, as COVID caused the first disruption and scraped their opener with the Nationals.

Francisco Lindor will wait another few days after signing a 10-year $341 million contract extension.

Nice to see fans back in the ballpark, 10,000 a cap at the big ballpark in the Bronx. Gerrit Cole threw a sixth inning slider to Teoscar Hernandez that went over the left field wall. The first extra inning game of the season as the Yankees lost the opener, 3-2 in 10-innings.

Like every Yankees fan, there would have been a preference to play the game the old way and let the bullpens battle. Yeah, this is 2021. So the players and owners implemented that sandlot extra inning rule of starting the inning with a runner on second and the Blue Jays got the winning run home.

The Yankees could not take care of their advantage in the bottom of the inning. The bogus rule did not help their cause. The Yankees spent the day stranding men on base (10). They went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

“They made the pitches today; we just couldn’t break through with a big hit,” said manager Aaron Boone.

Believe me, this is not the Yankees. They will hit the home run ball often. They will get the timely hit. The Yankees will hit a ton of home runs. And Cole, he eventually will learn to keep the ball from going out of the yard which hurt him last year.

But with a marathon now of 162 games, not a 60-game sprint of last year, the Yankees have plenty of time and talent to go far in October, but Yankees fans want to win them all. The fortunate ones that remained let Aaron Judge know how they felt after he bounced into an inning-ending double play in the seventh inning with the bases loaded.

“Those fans want to watch winners,” Judge said. “They let us know when we don’t do our job and we didn’t do our job. I could have given us a lead or done something,.”

Judge did not get the job done, and he will get it gone, but Judge also needs to stay healthy and one game is not an indicator. Give the guy a break, but fans expect the spectacular on Opening Day.

They were heard when Gary Sanchez got off to a good start with a second inning home run over the left field fence off a Hyun Jin Ryu’s four-seamer. If Sanchez can be consistent and hit the four seamer the production will return.

“It feels good to get going this way,” Sanchez said.

Cole had no complaints with Sanchez behind the plate. So forget about the Opening Day loss and move on to Saturday afternoon.

The Mets will have to wait. Remember, COVID is far from over. So Jacob deGrom missed his Opening Day start and could get the ball at Citi Field for the Mets home opener next Thursday as Manager Luis Rojas makes adjustments.

The Francisco Lindor saga of a contract extension featured a lot of drama and was fit for Broadway.

“My goal at the end of all of this is that we make this organization the greatest organization, and everybody wants to come play for the New York Mets,” Lindor said Thursday.

Instead, Lindor was meeting the media via ZOOM and awaited his first Mets hit.

“I know I haven’t been to New York, but the guys, the boys, made me feel comfortable around them,” Lindor said. “They made me a part of what they have in the clubhouse and I love that. I love the opportunity that I have to bring a championship to the city of Queens.”

Indeed, Francisco Lindor is the talk of New York baseball. For the next decade the Mets have their franchise player as Jacob deGrom moves along and anchors the pitching rotation. There are those who play the game well.

Lindor is exceptional, but all Mets fans have to wait a few more days. So will those new guys, that he refers to, in the clubhouse.

“In the brief time he has been here I have learned so much from him” said JD Davis. “He brings so much energy to the team. I’m excited to get this going as all the guys are,” he said.

The Mets will bide their time and continue to stay sharp at Nationals Park. They hope to get the marathon going Saturday. Because of strict MLB protocols and restrictions, the Mets will spend more time with, and gravitate to, Lindor as they seclude themselves in their hotel.

Which makes you wonder, with the protocols, how did three Nationals’ players test positive for COVID-19?

In the meantime, it’s a waiting game. Baseball in New York the next six months will be interesting. If they stay healthy and play to expectations, this will be a memorable 2021 baseball season for the Yankees and Mets.

I expect both teams to be playing baseball in October. I won’t say there will be a Subway World Series, 21 years after the last one, but I do see the Yankees and Mets winning 90 games or more.

It wasn’t what we expected on Opening Day. But, hey, this was just the beginning of a season that can be something special.

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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