Chicago, IL – Baseball fans will be back in the stands to watch the Cubs host the Brewers and the White Sox face the Houston Astros in today’s opening day games. Both teams have made some significant changes to their rosters during the offseason, hoping to improve their performance from last year. While the Cubs signed several star players like Dansby Swanson, Cody Bellinger, and Jameson Taillon, the White Sox are back with a new manager and marginal signings.
There is more to the 2023 MLB season than just the team changes though. The league has introduced some new rule changes this year that will impact the game’s pace and style. The most notable of these changes is the new pitch clock, praised by fans and players, which gives pitchers just 15 seconds to deliver their next throw, and 20 seconds with runners on base. The bases are now 20 percent bigger this season, reducing the distance between first and second base by four and a half inches, which could make it easier for runners to steal bases.
Opening day has always been a significant event in the MLB season. It is the start of a 162-game season, and teams come out of the gate with high hopes and a clean slate. It is also a day filled with historical performances and milestones. For example, Ted Williams was a .449 hitter in openers, with three home runs and fourteen runs batted in during fourteen games. In 1940, Cleveland’s Bob Feller pitched the only Opening Day no-hitter in Major League history against the White Sox. In 1974, Hank Aaron hit his 714th career home run on the first swing of the season, tying Babe Ruth’s all-time record.
Despite the historical significance of opening day, it does not necessarily indicate a team’s performance throughout the rest of the season. The Cincinnati Reds held the record for most consecutive opening day wins by a team, with nine wins between 1983 and 1991. The Detroit Tigers tied that record by winning every opening day between 2009 and 2017, but lost the tenth game in 2018.
Regardless, opening day remains an experience that fans and players alike look forward to. For over a century, baseball has been hailed as America’s National Pastime, and opening day is an event that embodies the excitement and energy that the game brings. It is also a political arena where U.S. Presidents have shown their support for the sport by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Eleven sitting U.S. Presidents have done so, with Harry S. Truman standing out as the only one to throw out the first pitch with both his right and left arm in 1950.
As fans gear up for the start of the 2023 season, they will have the chance to witness the new rule changes and cheer on their favorite teams as they kick off the season. While the opening day does not guarantee a successful season, it is a day filled with hope and excitement, marking the beginning of America’s beloved national pastime.