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New York Yankees Opening Day: Underdog Yankees Begin 2011 Season

The New York Yankees are scheduled to open the 2011 Major League Baseball season today against the Detroit Tigers. CC Sabathia is slated to throw the first pitch, with Justin Verlander pitching for Detroit (1:05 p.m., YES).

All of the Opening Day festivities, of course, are weather-permitting. With the New York City forescast showing a 70 percent chance of rain today with temperatures in the lows 40s and a 60 percent chance of rain and snow on Friday, I have a question. Whose brilliant idea was it to try and open the baseball season in New York on March 31? You just had to know that was asking for trouble.

Anyway, baseball season is here. There are five other season-opening games on tap today. So, even if the Yankees and Tigers don't get to play baseball any time soon somebody will be playing today. With that in mind, let's talk about what to expect from the 2011 Bronx Bombers.

The Yankees are considered the underdogs in the American League East this season. Just ask the 45 ESPN baseball experts, every last one of whom picked the Boston Red Sox to win the division.

"As crazy as that sounds, nobody seems to believe in us but us," opening-day starter CC Sabathia said Wednesday.

The Red Sox added Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to their lineup. The Yankees lost out on prized free-agent starting pitcher Cliff Lee and then watched Andy Pettitte announce his retirement. The Yankees big additions? Reliever Rafael Soriano to set up for Mariano Rivera, and catcher Russell Martin to take over for Jorge Posada. So, Boston wins the winter. We begin to find out today if they win the 2011 season. Bodog lists the Red Sox with 9-2 odds to win the World Series, while the Yankees are 7-1.

Here are a few reasons to pay attention to the Yankees this season, whether they win the World Series or not.

  • Derek Jeter begins the season 74 hits shy of 3,000 for his career. No player has ever gotten 3,000 as a Yankee, an amazing reality with the glorious history of the franchise.
  • Mariano Rivera begins the season 41 saves shy of 600, and 42 shy of tying Trevor Hoffman for the all-time saves lead. Rivera saved 44 games two seasons ago, so getting to that mark this season is possible.
  • Alex Rodriguez begins the season sixth on the all-time home run list with 613. Next on the list is Ken Griffy Jr., with 630. After that, a big jump to Willie Mays, fourth on the all-time list with 660. A-Rod would need 47 home runs to tie Mays, a number he has surpassed five times in his career. He has not had a 40+ home run season since 2007 (54), so you would think it is unlikely he catches Mays this season. Sure would be fun to watch him make a run at it, though.

Current Series

Detroit Tigers
@ New York Yankees

Thursday, Mar 31, 2011, 1:05 PM EDT
Yankee Stadium

Justin Verlander vs CC Sabathia


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