After years of waiting, billions of dollars in construction fees, and an agonizing week of Gotham-less baseball, New Ballpark Week has finally arrived. The Mets play their first regular-season game at Citi Field tonight, and the Yankees are just one series (in Tampa) away, hosting the Cleveland Indians on Thursday afternoon at the new Yankee Stadium. Here’s a comprehensive guide to each opening day.
Start Time: 7:10 p.m., tonight.
Opponent: San Diego Padres. The Friars are expected to be one of the worst teams in baseball this season, but they’re off to a surprising 5–2 start. Their starting pitcher is Walter Silva, a 32-year-old career minor-leaguer who made his big-league debut last week.
Mets Starting Pitcher: Mike Pelfrey. He pitched poorly in his first start against Cincinnati last week, but still earned the win.
Ceremonial First Pitch: Hall of Famer Tom Seaver will throw out the first pitch to future Hall of Famer (assuming the steroid rumors don’t get him) Mike Piazza.
Pomp: There will be a jet flyover, and the national anthem will be sung by the Broadway cast of West Side Story.
Likely outcome: Hot start aside, the Padres are one of the weaker teams in baseball, and the Mets should be able to pound Silva. Would Jose Reyes dare homer in the first Mets at-bat at Citi Field? Mets 8–1
Start Time: 1:05 p.m., Thursday.
Opponent: Cleveland Indians. Cleveland, one of the favorites in the weak AL Central, is off to a 1–5 start. The starting pitchers have been knocked around, particularly returning Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, who will start Thursday.
Yankees Starting Pitcher: CC Sabathia. After a terrible opening-day start, the portly, high-priced lefthander dominated the Royals on Saturday.
Ceremonial First Pitch: The Yankees haven’t made a formal announcement yet, which has led to speculation that it’ll be George Steinbrenner. Considering his frailty, it seems more likely he’d get the motorized cart / wave-to-fans treatment, which means we could get Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson (who threw out the first pitch for the first exhibition game), or even Bernie Williams.
Pomp: Jets, of course, though longtime announcer Bob Sheppard sadly won’t be there because of a bronchial infection. The first Yankees batter at the new Yankee Stadium will be Derek Jeter, which is probably pomp enough.
Likely Outcome: The Yankees wouldn’t dare lose their first game in their epic, billion-dollar edifice, would they? Admit it: You’ll kind of miss A-Rod being there, a little. Yankees 7–5