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Opening Day: Baseball Season Starts In Earnest

In 204 days, two teams will face off in the World Series. Until then, fans can dream about their team winning it all, as Major League Baseball's regular season gets going. St. Louis and Chicago played the first game Sunday night; the Cubs lost, 3-0.

Along with that loss, Chicago's fans also endured restroom wait times of up to 30 minutes. Blaming the problem on at least two bathrooms being closed, the club has apologized, Chicago news TV WGN says.

Monday's games will start just after 1 p.m. ET and continue well into the night, as 28 teams play (you can follow the scores on the MLB site).

Other than Opening Day, the big news in baseball today is the late trade between the San Diego Padres and the Atlanta Braves, who sent their All Star closer Craig Kimbrel and another player to San Diego in exchange for four players and a draft pick.

Fans of the Washington Nationals and Seattle Mariners are hoping their teams deliver on high expectations that they'll play deep into this year's postseason. Meanwhile, fans in St. Louis, Baltimore, and Los Angeles are primed for their home teams to win big.

Of course, amid all the expectations, we should all bear in mind that two wild-card teams played in last year's World Series.

In terms of individual players, the Toronto Blue Jays have two exciting young players in pitcher Daniel Norris and center fielder Dalton Pompey. The Cubs have a trio of budding stars in outfielder Jorge Soler, second baseman Javier Baez, and third baseman Kris Bryant, who hit back-to-back-to-back homers last month.

And many folks in Boston and beyond are looking forward to watching the Red Sox' outfielder/second baseman Mookie Betts, 22, get more playing time in 2015.

Opening Day often brings surprises. But ESPN analyst Tim Kurkjian tells WBUR's Only A Game what not to expect today: a no-hitter.

"We had a no-hitter on Opening Day by Bob Feller in 1940. That's the first and only no-hitter on Opening Day, which is the answer, of course, to a trivia question: what's the only time that every player on a team started the game with the exact same batting average that they ended the game? Because everyone was .000 going in and at the end they were all .000 again."

People around baseball will also be watching the Tampa Bay Rays and Houston Astros this year, in part because of their innovative approaches to the game. From the Hardball Times:

"Under general manager Jeff Luhnow, the Houston Astros have completely revamped their front office as a prelude to rebuilding its roster. Houston now employs a number of baseball ops positions that didn't exist even a decade ago: decision sciences director, medical risk manager & analyst, senior technical architect, analytics developer, advance information coordinator, mathematical modeler, and more."

Here are some key dates for this season, from Baseball Almanac:

  • April 15: Jackie Robinson Day
  • June 15: Major League Baseball Draft
  • July 14: 2015 All-Star Game
  • Sept. 1: Rosters Increase from 25 to 40
  • Sept. 16: Roberto Clemente Day
  • Oct. 27: 2015 World Series Begins
  • Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

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