Following a long and eventful offseason, baseball is finally back, as CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees take on the Baltimore Orioles and Jeremy Guthrie from Orioles Park at Camden Yards.
The Yankees christened their new $1.5 billion ballpark with two exhibition games over the weekend as a final tune-up before the regular season. I was fortunate enough to attend Friday night's game and experience the new Yankee Stadium for myself. Having attended the final game at the original Stadium last season, it was fitting that I should be in attendance for the very first game played at the new incarnation. But that's a write-up for another day. For now, it's time to look ahead to what promises to be an exciting 2009. New acquisitions Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira have gargantuan contracts and high expectations to live up to; Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, and Chien-Ming Wang are all coming back from injuries; Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano are looking to come back from sub-par performances in '08; and Manager Joe Girardi has to decide how to shuffle five outfielders in Johnny Damon, Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera, Xavier Nady, and Nick Swisher (not to mention Matsui once Interleague play rolls around). And, of course, there is Alex Rodriguez, who will carry all of his baggage onto the team sometime in the next few weeks as he recovers from hip surgery (and a bruised ego).
Despite the questions surrounding the 2009 New York Yankees, to me, they are the best team in the American League, if not all of Major League Baseball on paper. We'll just have to let the season play out to see if that translates to a division title and the ultimate goal of World Championship #27.
That quest for #27 finally gets underway April 6th in Baltimore.