The baseball season actually started last night, but the first Monday in April will always been opening day to me. In that spirit, today’s New York Times profiles the new-look Yankees:
The 57,478 seats at Yankee Stadium were empty yesterday on a chilly and gray afternoon. But shortly after 1 p.m., the ballpark began to hum with anticipation.
First, Thin Lizzy?s ?The Boys Are Back in Town? played over the loudspeakers. Then the Yankees filed onto the field for their final workout before the 2007 season.
The players looked excited to be back at Yankee Stadium after spending so much time preparing at spring training. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were smiling as they emerged from the clubhouse, and they playfully climbed the dugout steps together.
The Yankees begin their season this afternoon at the Stadium against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with some new faces and some old ones who have not played with the team in a while.
?Opening day, you?d like to say it?s another game,? Manager Joe Torre said. ?But you know it?s more than that.?
Carl Pavano will make the first opening day start of his career, going against the Devil Rays left-hander Scott Kazmir. And the Yankees will have the same lineup they used in Saturday?s 3-3 tie with the Detroit Tigers in Tampa, Fla.
Johnny Damon (center field) will lead off, followed by Jeter (shortstop), Bobby Abreu (right field), Rodriguez (third base), Jason Giambi (designated hitter), Hideki Matsui (left field), Jorge Posada (catcher), Robinson Can? (second base) and Josh Phelps (first base).
The right-handed-hitting Phelps beat out Doug Mientkiewicz, who bats left-handed, for a spot in the lineup. Phelps said yesterday that Torre did not plan on a strict platoon, meaning that the first basemen, each new to the Yankees, would see action against left-handers and right-handers.
?I think it?s a privilege and an honor,? Phelps said about starting the opener.
Looks to be an exciting season.
Update: It looks like the season is off to a good start:
A construction crane peeks over the left field grandstand at Yankee Stadium now, a reminder of new beginnings. There will be only one more opening day at the old ballpark, with a new one rising in two years.
There is still time to make memories at 161st Street and River Avenue, and the Yankees added a few more Monday. It was not a crisply played opener, but the result satisfied the crowd. The Yankees whipped the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 9-5, losing a lead and then storming back for the last six runs of the game.
Alex Rodriguez provided the coda with a two-run homer to center field in the eighth inning. Jason Giambi drove in three runs, including a tie-breaking single that scored Rodriguez in the seventh inning.
As hard as it is to believe, this was the end of the next-to-last Opening Day at The House That Ruth Built.