By Mike Harrington
The baseball season opens tonight with the Astros' inaugural game in the American League and really kicks into high gear tomorrow with the official Opening Day that includes Red Sox-Yankees in the Bronx. I'll be on hand Tuesday night at the Rogers Centre in Toronto for the Blue Jays' much-anticipated opener against Terry Francona's Cleveland Indians (how strange that sounds).
Be sure to read all about the upcoming season in today's MLB preview section. Here's a look at the starting lineup:
---As I sat through the Florida chill -- and there was plenty of it last week -- I composed a lot of thoughts on the Blue Jays' history, their long playoff drought and their new tie-in to Buffalo. Be sure to read my essay on it all here, complete with thoughts from Cy Young winner and ex-Bison R.A. Dickey and longtime broadcaster Jerry Howarth.
(And if you missed it, be sure to double back to this link for my audio podcast with Howarth taped last week during batting practice in Florida. Love the sound of bat hitting ball in the background).
---He's been one of ours for 24 years now but Senior Sports Columnist Jerry Sullivan grew up in Rhode Island as an unabashed Red Sox fan. Times are likely to be tough this year for both the Sox and the Yankees, which hasn't happened much over the last two two decades. In his essay on the Yanks and Sox, Sully says it reminds him of fighting as 9-year-olds with his best friend, Brian, over which team will stink less.
---In my preseason MLB power rankings, the Giants start at No. 1 and a third World Series title in four years would certainly put them in some rare air.
---Greg Connors' Mixed Media column puts the focus on Tim McCarver, the FOX analyst who is one of the game's most polarizing figures as he heads into his final season. Yes, McCarver talks too much at times. But he's perhaps the greatest television analyst in the history of the game. Nobody has done more jewel events, be it All-Star Games or World Series telecasts.
---Jay Skurski's fantasy breakdown gives you a look at some good sleeper picks. Some are prospects you've probably never heard of. Some of the names might surprise you.
As for the Bisons, they hit town for their first workout Tuesday in advance of Thursday's opener at Coca-Cola Field. Amy Moritz and I will have full coverage of the Herd's hopes in their first year as a Toronto affiliate in Wednesday's paper.