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Opening Day 2013: Baseball’s Texas-Sized Mistake

MLB Opening Day 2013

Aaaaaaah! Sunshine, peanuts, Cracker Jack, fantasy baseball and performance-enhancing drug allegations. Opening Day 2013 is upon us.

Opening Day is Monday, but, in recent years, the season’s first pitch has usually been thrown the Sunday night before in a showcase battle between two popular teams.

To start the 2013 season, Major League Baseball decided to go big — and when I say big, I mean big mess. The first game of the season: Texas Rangers at Houston Astros.

Huh!?

We’re talking about the same Rangers who backed into the 2012 postseason only to lose in the new play-in wild card game AND lost troubled superstar Josh Hamilton to the division-rival Angels against an Astros team that lost a MLB-leading 107 games last season.

W. T. F.

I know the saying is that everything is bigger in Texas, but this reeks of a big disappointment. The only big difference I see here is the Astros are playing their first game in the American League after spending their 51-year existence in the Senior Circuit.

Better Opening Day 2013 Ideas

Whose idea was this? There are so many other matchups that could have been selected. I know the schedules are done well in advance, but, like the NFL does with late-season Sunday night games, there needs to be some room for alterations. I will give you a short list of games that I feel would make for a better Opening Day 2013 matchup.

5. Angels at Tigers

This would pit the AL MVP (Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera) against his runner-up (Los Angeles’ Mike Trout) in a matchup of two AL teams expected to make a run at the Commissioner’s Trophy. Throw Cy Young candidates Justin Verlander (Det) and Jered Weaver (LAA) on the mound and you have a game that’s sure to please.

4. Cardinals at Braves

This would be a rematch of the National League play-in game that was marred with one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen in a baseball game (not that this Braves fan is biased or anything). In case you’ve been living under a rock, a short recap: The Braves had a potential rally killed in the eighth inning when a ball hit 40-50 feet past the dirt drew the rare “infield fly” call. Braves fans showed why it’s called the Dirty South by littering the field with garbage in protest. Atlanta lost 6-3, ending their season and Chipper Jones’ career. A rematch could make for great ratings.

3. Blue Jays at Nationals

This would match the oddsmakers’ favorite to win the World Series (Toronto) against last year’s pleasant surprise (Washington). Also here is a revival of the former Canadian rivalry, as the Nationals were the Montreal Expos before moving to the U.S. capital in 2005. One thing that would hurt this matchup, I admit, is having a team from Canada playing in the opener of a game once seen as “America’s Pastime.”

2. Dodgers at Giants

I cannot understand for the life of me why the defending-champion Giants aren’t opening their season in San Francisco. Once again, whose idea was this!? Anyway, having the champs open at home against their bitter rival would make more sense than this all-Texas matchup MLB has on deck. Los Angeles has spent a ton of money and is expected to challenge San Francisco for the NL West crown. This would be a solid opener.

1. Tigers at Giants

Although I pick San Francisco in my top two games, let me be clear: I am in no way a Giants fan. However, I feel one must give credit where credit is due. They are the champions. They deserve to be showcased in the first game of the season. Moving on … With MLB having interleague games on a regular basis due to each league having an odd number of teams (15 each), why not a rematch of the World Series? Having teams from different parts of the country could also help boost ratings.

There are plenty other solid matchups that could fit here. I will say that there’s one I purposely left out. So, if you’re one who believes Yankees-Red Sox should have been mentioned, you must either a fan of one of those teams or work for ESPN. I’m tired of that pairing being forced down the throats of baseball fans.

No matter how much crabbing I do, Texas-Houston is the Opening Day 2013 matchup Sunday. At least baseball is back. Play ball!

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