Dan's Dugout: Welcome to Opening Day • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Welcome to Opening Day


Opening Day.

The opening of a 162-game season certain to be filled with surprises, upsets, compelling stories of team and individual success and failure.

Optimism reigns supreme every Opening Day

Optimism reigns supreme every Opening Day

Only one thing’s for sure: predictions are pointless.

Just last week, this column predicted a first-place finish in the National League West for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

That is no longer the case.

Star centerfielder A.J. Pollock might miss the entire season in the wake of an injury suffered while sliding in a late-spring exhibition game.

Although he’d been injured before, it was the presence of Pollock that permitted the D’backs to deal Ender Inciarte to Atlanta last winter.

Now Arizona would love to have a do-over.

On Opening Day at least, nobody has any losses. But Arizona would make a notable exception.

A bunch of others likely to influence the 2016 races also open on the

Zack Wheeler is due back in midseason Image Credit: Jason Schott

Zack Wheeler is due back in midseason
Image: Jason Schott

disabled list. Among them are Zack Wheeler, likely fifth starter for the Mets in midseason after healing from Tommy John surgery, and Andrew Miller, lefthanded reliever for the Yankees whose non-pitching wrist incurred a chipped fracture last week.

Another bullpen stalwart, Yankees lefty Aroldis Chapman, will miss the first month because of the 30-day suspension imposed by Major League Baseball following an off-season incident involving domestic abuse.

In the not-too-distant future, Opening Day just might include Montreal, Mexico City, and Havana. The Tampa Bay Rays drew 55,000 fans – their biggest crowd ever – when they went to the island nation for an exhibition game attended by President Barack Obama and his family.

Jackie Robinson trained in Havana in 1947

Jackie Robinson trained in Havana in 1947

The first big-league club to play there since the 1999 Baltimore Orioles beat the Cuban National Team in front of an audience that included Jackie Robinson’s widow Rachel and daughter Sharon.

Rachel Robinson had been there before, when Branch Rickey’s Brooklyn Dodgers trained in Havana prior to Jackie’s rookie season of 1947.

Yes, the film 42 was wrong: the Dodgers did not hold spring training in Panama that year. In fact, they left their familiar Florida surroundings specifically to avoid the segregation and race-baiting they feared would make their baseball business a side-show.
Fans in both Mexico City and Montreal also love baseball. Regular-season games have been played in Mexico before, while the Toronto Blue Jays have hosted two-game sets in a sold-out Olympic Stadium. Given a new ballpark, there’s no doubt the fans of Montreal would support any team that could get – an existing one or an expansion creation.

There is expansion talk in baseball circles again, with the idea of four eight-team leagues, with two divisions each, drawing genuine interest.

With the Basic Agreement between players and owners due to expire at the end of this season, the time for more change in the game has arrived. And Commissioner Rob Manfred, who negotiated previous deals without work stoppages, could be the right guy in the right place at the right time.

Elsewhere in baseball:

Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said releasing veteran outfielder Michael Bourn was the hardest thing he’s ever had to do in baseball . . .

According to the baseball preview issue of Sports Illustrated, the pitching-thin Braves will lose 102 games, most in the majors, this season . . .

Now that he has a rookie trophy under his belt, hard-hitting Houston shortstop Carlos Correa has his sights set on the American League’s Most Valuable Player award . . .

Former World Series hero Pablo Sandoval has lost his starting job with the Boston Red Sox and could lose his roster spot too if the San Diego Padres will assume a big chunk of his inflated salary . . .

David Wright’s health could have considerable bearing on the success of the Mets this season . . .

Surprised nobody signed Tim Lincecum, who has thrown two no-hitters in the majors.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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  • Julio

    A Havana & Mexico City franchise might be a Gd idea for the future of baseball.