Opening Day is right around the corner, bringing about a new Major League Baseball season and returning fans to the ballpark. While those with the privilege of attending any of the opening games will surely enjoy the experience, a few matchups in particular offer another level of intrigue.
To look at the best of the best, here are the top five Opening Day matchups. These games—which were chosen based on the quality of the teams and the ballpark experience—are not only worth checking out in person, but fans who spend the day at home may want to tune in and see these games to start the season.
With its 23rd consecutive Opening Day sell out on tap, Progressive Field begins the season with a matchup that pits two intriguing teams. Regardless of the game’s outcome, the atmosphere around the ballpark should be abuzz, as the Indians will welcome back three former players—Kenny Lofton, Travis Hafner, and Bill Selby—for pre-game ceremonies. This contest will also mark the introduction of the latest upgrades to Progressive Field, including three new restaurants as part of the ballpark’s Infield District.
While the Padres may not enter the season with the highest of expectations, this game still offers some intrigue. Fans in Southern California will not only be treated to seeing two National League West rivals, but will also get to experience Petco Park, which is regarded as one of the finest ballparks in the majors and will host this summer’s All-Star Game.
These two clubs last met in the American League Wild Card during the postseason, with Houston prevailing. Entering this season, both clubs are expected to be competitive, making this a potential playoff preview. And while it may not have the historical lore of its predecessor, Yankee Stadium still makes for a fitting venue for one of the day’s best games.
What is there not to love about this game? It features two competitive division rivals, one of baseball’s best ballparks, and, by virtue of its start time, will be the season’s first game. As they wait and see whether their Pirates can finally make a run deep into October, fans in Pittsburgh will be able to relish a very interesting matchup.
Cardinals at Pirates would have claimed the top spot in most seasons, but a rematch of last year’s World Series teams is simply too big to ignore. As the Royals try to defend their title, they start off in front of the hometown fans against a Mets squad that should once again be a factor in the NL East.
Reminders of the World Series will be aplenty. Prior to the game, the Royals will raise their championship banner, while the projected pitching matchup features the two pitchers from the final game of the World Series—the Royals’ Edison Volquez and the Mets’ Matt Harvey. Of course, this is the first time that the two World Series teams from the previous season will matchup on Opening Day. ESPN will air this game as its first Sunday Night Baseball telecast of the season.
Tropicana Field is not the most picturesque Opening Day venue, but it will host an intriguing matchup in the form of the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays. With the parade and all, the Cincinnati Reds will have their traditional Opening Day festivities before squaring off against the Philadelphia Phillies at Great American Ballpark. Though the Atlanta Braves enter the season with low expectations, their final Opening Day at Turner Field will feature a fitting opponent in the division-rival Washington Nationals. With the exception of the Blue Jays at the Rays on Sunday, all of these games will take place on Monday.
First pitch times reflect local time zones.