Some years ago, I searched and tracked each team’s selection for the season-opening logos they decided to paint onto the field for the first games of the season. MLB provides three choices, and it seems the teams decide which one to go with: Opening Day, Opening Series or Opening Week.
There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to what teams go with, but if it were up to me to set some parameters, I’d say…
Opening Day: You may only use this if you are playing Game 1 of the season at home. That means going into the game with a 0-0 record, playing on either that first Sunday (the now three-game Sunday opening slate) or Monday.
Opening Series: May be used if hosting Game 1, but also appropriate for a team that begins the season on the road.
Opening Week: For use by teams who play one of the first two series of the season at home. Baseball’s week runs from Monday-Sunday, so if your first home game isn’t until the second Monday, then Opening Week is out for you. Opening Series is the only option.
Of course, it’s not up to me, so here is how teams celebrated the first games of the season in their ballparks …
Opening Day (14): Arizona, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado, Detroit (though a design from a previous season), Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, N.Y. Yankees, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis.
Opening Week (12): Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Miami, Milwaukee, N.Y. Mets, Oakland, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Washington.
Opening Series (4): Atlanta, L.A. Dodgers, San Diego, Texas.
Now, applying my guidelines …
Opening Day eligible (only these 15)
Tampa Bay (went with Week)
Washington (went with Week)
N.Y. Mets (went with Week)
Milwaukee (went with Week)
Chicago White Sox (went with Week)
L.A. Dodgers (went with Series)
Texas (went with Series)
Oakland (went with Week)
Opening Week eligible (as are all the above, but not listed here)
Detroit (went with Day)
Philadelphia (went with Day)
Colorado (went with Day)
San Diego (went with Series)
Opening Series (all are eligible, but it’s the least appealing to me)
N.Y. Yankees (went with Day)
Kansas City (went with Day)
San Francisco (went with Week)
Seattle (went with Day)
Chicago Cubs (went with Week)
Cleveland (went with Day)
Toronto (went with Week)
Miami (went with Week)
So, by my count, seven out of 15 teams that should have used Opening Day did so; two out of six used Week and only one used Series. Seven teams that did not play Game 1 at home used Opening Day and four teams that did not open their ballparks until the second Monday or later used Week.
Finally, a side note: Several teams, when sending in requests for their schedules, ask for an off-day following the first home game of the season. My theory is that this is in case of a postponement due to weather, the thinking being that the game can be made up the next day or night and the fans who bought the tickets expecting to see the first game at the ballpark will be able to do so. If a game’s rained out and the next day has a game already scheduled, that can’t happen and all the people who bought tickets for Game 2 (usually many, many fewer than the expected Opening Day sellout) now unexpectedly have tickets for Opening Day. And with dynamic pricing now the norm (not to mention ticket resellers), this is even more of an issue.
But I got sidetracked from my side note. My point was going to be that, because of the threat of cold, rainy or snowy weather, MLB should try to put as many openers in warm climates or covered ballparks as possible in most years. Obviously, Cincinnati wants to hold onto its Opening Day tradition, and that’s fine — I can’t remember the last time they had a rainout of Game 1. And no team will be happy never getting Opening Day at home. But 12 teams easily fit the criteria: Arizona, Atlanta, Houston, L.A. Angels, L.A. Dodgers, Miami, Milwaukee, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Texas. Add Cincinnati and that’s 13, so just two more are needed, and San Francisco and Oakland generally have clear weather, though it can get a bit chilly (but nothing like what Colorado, Minnesota, Chicago or Cleveland can offer). But as a Mets fan, I wouldn’t want to see any reduction in the frequency of Opening Days in Queens. But I’d prefer to be there on a nice 60-degree Monday afternoon rather than shivering through a 30-degree wind chill.