April 1, 2013 – We’ve waited since the final pitch of the 2012 season last October. We made it through a long, cold winter, and the excitement of the first day of Spring Training. At long last, it’s finally here. It’s Opening Day.
Today is the only day that all Major League Baseball teams sit equally in first place believing they can make it to post-season play and ultimately the World Series. While reality sets in quickly for many teams, their slate is clean and today is the fresh start that erases all the wrongs of last season.
The Philadelphia Phillies open with a rare Opening Day night game against the Braves in Atlanta. The teams are natural rivals in the National League East, a division the Braves controlled for 13 years, until 2007 when the Phillies took over and reigned for five years. Last year, the Washington Nationals took control, yet were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.
The Phillies went 81-81 last year, in a season plagued with injuries. In 2013, with a healthy Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, their record will likely improve, but there is still a big question mark with once ace pitcher Roy Halladay, who has struggled with velocity and control issues all spring. Halladay insists he feels fine and is ready to go, and the Phillies have him slated as the number two starter in Atlanta on Wednesday.
Most baseball critics have Washington finishing first in the National League East again, the Braves finishing second and the Phillies third. Third might be enough to secure the second wild card spot but this blogger hopes for more. If the team stays healthy and its improved bullpen and pitching staff hold up to expectations, there’s no reason why we can’t take back the East or at least secure the first wild card spot. Only time and 162 baseball games will tell the complete story, so let’s play ball.