by Dan Cook, WCCO Radio
Baseball is a unique sport in many ways. When teams in other sports begin their season, it’s a special event. But “Opening Day” and “Home Openers” in baseball seem to rise to another level.
Teams break out the bunting, entire squads are introduced to the fans, and the pregame festivities seem to last for hours.
Yes, the game is just one of 162 that will be played over the course of the season, but even the players know that the Home Opener is something special.
“It’s always exciting,” said first baseman Joe Mauer, “You can’t replicate it, even though this is our third this season. Yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”
Second baseman Brian Dozier is looking forward to turning the page on a tough opening road trip.
“[The Home Opener] is something I look forward to,” Dozier said before the game, “especially with what we’ve had to deal with the past week of not winning games. To get back — a fresh new start — to get back at home, everybody’s looking forward to it.”
For other players, it’s their first chance to experience a Home Opener in the big leagues, so it’s extra special.
“I heard [from my] teammates,” said designated hitter Kennys Vargas. “They say that Opening Day in your hometown is special, so I want to look for that.”
For new manager Paul Molitor, the key to a successful Home Opener is managing emotions.
“You know obviously you look forward to what Opening Day brings at home,” Molitor said. “You enjoy that part of it — the fans reception to the players when you get introduced — but as far as circumstances, I’m a little more worried about the game than I am about trying to soak in all the moments. I’ll try to do the best I can with that, but my focus is going to be on trying to give our team a chance to win today.”
So what kind of chance do the Twins have?
They’re 30-14 all-time in Home Openers, with a record of 2-3 at Target Field. You have to go back to April 8, 2011 to find their last win in a Home Opener.
And if trying to break a streak of three losses in a row wasn’t tough enough, they face the defending AL Pennant-winning Kansas City Royals, who also happen to be 6-0 on the young season.
It’s the third time they face the Royals in a Home Opener. The last time was April 1, 1998, a game the Twins lost 9-5.
First pitch is at 3:10 p.m. Trevor May takes the hill for the Twins to face Danny Duffy for the Royals.