It is hard to believe that after 85 years, professional sport’s most storied and majestic venue says farewell. More like a museum than a ballpark, “The House That Ruth Built” hosted its first opening day game April 18, 1923 against the dreaded Boston Red Sox, back when the Pinstripes (then led by Babe “The Bambino” Ruth) ruled the baseball universe. “The Big Ballpark in the Bronx” (as Reggie Jackson – Mr. October- referred to it) will officially host its final Opening Day game (due to a rain out) Tuesday April 1, 2008 as the New York Yankees welcome AL East divisional rivals the Toronto Blue Jays at 7:05 pm ET on YES Network. Sportsbetting.com has NYY -159 favorite over TOR (+149) in MLB betting with O/U at 9 (+100). The Cathedral that is Yankee Stadium will be filled to capacity in what should be an emotional (final) Opening Day for the fans as well as the players. But that’s not the only thing that will feel a bit awkward this season in the Bronx.
For the first time in 13 seasons there will be no one in the home dugout wearing # 6. Nor will the Bronx Bomber be the favorites to win it all this season. Great baseball mind Joe Torre, will be in Dodger blue and in Pacific Time this year after parting ways with the 26-time champs early this off season. His successor: Torre’s ex-catcher and ex-bench-coach Joe Girardi. The first time Yankee manager however, does appears to be more than qualified for the job. Girardi, (who’s not much older than some of the vets in the team) took a young underdog team -the Florida Marlins- to the playoffs, earning him National League Coach of the Year honors, in his first managerial campaign just a few years ago.
Furthermore, this season will also be the first time in a very long time that the NYY aren’t viewed as the frontrunners. The last time they won a title was in 2000. Although they have reached the post-season every single year since then, they just aren’t feared by the opposition nearly as much, and this is evident as they’ve had consecutive first round playoff exits in their last two season.
Roy Halladay (Blue Jays): finished season 16-7 overall (3.71 ERA);
Vs. NYY: last 12 starts 7-1 (2.04 ERA).
Chien-Ming Wang (Yankees): finished season 19-7 overall (3.70 ERA);
Vs. TOR: last 3 starts 0-2 (6.35 ERA).
*NYY have won 16 of last 22 home openers; including franchise’s best 10 straight home openers (longest active streak in MLB)*