WE MADE IT! Baseball is FINALLY here!

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer throws the first pitch to New York Yankees’ Aaron Hicks at Nationals Park during an opening day baseball game, Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

KEVIN MCALPIN
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – WE MADE IT! After months of uncertainty on whether there would be a baseball season or not this summer, at 7:09pm on Thursday evening, Max Scherzer threw the first pitch of the 2020 season at Nationals Park. Sure there were times over the last few months that baseball seemed like a pipe dream, but the season has officially gotten underway. Now, the question becomes, can we finish a Postseason and crown a champ?

To this point, everybody involved deserves a ton of credit. Through last Friday, over 21,700 COVID-19 tests had been conducted. Of those, just 93 (0.4%) have come back positive, 80 of which have been players, in addition to 13 staff members. But the biggest test starts now as all 30 teams leave their respective “bubbles” and begin to travel as the regular season gets underway.

Closer to home, the Braves flew to New York this afternoon as they gear up for the Mets tomorrow afternoon. Absent from the team charter and Opening Day roster was southpaw Will Smith who missed the entirety of Summer Camp after testing positive for COVID-19. While he’s out, the team will carry three left handed relievers…AJ Minter, Tyler Matzek and Grant Dayton. The biggest surprise of those three is certainly Dayton. The best story is Matzek, who has overcome quite a bit over the course of his career, including a bout of the yips. As far as Minter is concerned, another opportunity to show why the team was so high on him a few years back. Look for the changeup to be the big difference maker for Minter in the new year.

While quite a bit will look different about the 2020 season, our National Pastime has finally returned. It looks bleak at times over the last four months. But here we are. And as they say in Field Of Dreams, “the one constant through all the years has been baseball.” Some may say a 60 game season isn’t legit. But I think we can all agree that 60 games is a heck of a lot better than none. Play ball, fellas!

Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet.

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