Joy of opening day is the wealth of possibilities . . .
What more can Major League Baseball give us?
After all, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa have reinvented the home run over the past two seasons, with each hitting at least 63 in those years.
The New York Yankees have swept the last two World Series, defeating the San Diego Padres in 1998 and the Atlanta Braves in 1999. And who can forget Cal Ripken, Jr.? The iron man finally took himself out of a game, ending his consecutive games played streak (MLB record) at 2,632.
So, with those three things being part of baseball's highlights over the past few seasons, what can we expect from the game this year? Let's hope the incident of John Rocker, the Braves' closer, isn't a foreshadow of what's to come.
Rocker decided to offend people from here to the Mississippi, Japan to the United Kingdom and everyone else in between, with his comments in a recent Sports Illustrated issue about the kinds of people he runs into when playing in the Big Apple.
Grow up, Rocker, don't give the nation's pastime a bad name, especially after it has worked so hard to win fans back after the players went on strike midway through the '94 season.
Throw Rocker aside, and baseball will prove to be promising in the new millennium.
And it all started Monday, with Opening Day 2000. However, we've already seen the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs kick off the season with two games in Japan last Wednesday and Thursday (the first time in MLB history), with the teams taking a game apiece. Then, there are the comeback stories for this season.
One player who will be hoping to make a big impact on the starting rotation for the Cubs in 00 is the '98 Rookie of the Year. Right-hand pitcher Kerry Wood, who underwent "Tommy John surgery" almost a year ago, will be back in action in a couple of weeks (he is currently on the 15-day disabled list).
The Braves will also be seeing a return to their starting lineup this season as first baseman Andres Galarraga, who missed all of last season due to cancer treatment.
Just seeing how Wood and Galarraga return will give baseball fans of all kinds reason to venture out to a ballpark, or turn on the radio or TV.
But there's more to look for.
One division to watch this season will be the National League Central. With the addition of Ken Griffey, Jr., to the Cincinnati Reds lineup, opposing pitchers in that division, or any other division for that matter, will not want to be facing the likes of "The Kid," "Big Mac," or "Slammin' Sammy."
These are just a few of the possible stories that could be happening at a park near, and they will definitely make the game worth watching.