It’s opening day for Major League Baseball and excitement is in the air. And for most, the return of sports, and their favorite teams, has seemingly brought a sense of relief.
In fact, it feels to me like there is only one player in all of MLB who is facing pressure as the season begins, new New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole.
Mookie Betts just agreed to a massive deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers but I don’t think people will judge their overall success or failure based on his production. Mike Trout announced he will play and is widely regarded as the best player in baseball, without ever winning a game in the postseason. And even the vitriol around Cole’s former team, the Houston Astros, seems to have dissipated, at least according to the signs I’ve seen.
But for the Yankees, consistent with their history, the expectations are a World Series. And over the last several years they’ve been a contender with fans and the media saying they were an ace away. Enter Cole and his big contract.
Now he’s been brilliant over the last couple of years but his signing instantly made the Yanks the favorite in many people’s minds, which means the expectations are for him to produce at a CY Young level all the way to the Canyon of Heroes.
Fortunately, with virtual fans he won’t be on the receiving end of any Giancarlo Stanton-esque Bronx cheer due to a slow start, but in a shortened 60 game season, all bets are off.
And given the circumstances, so is the pressure for most throughout MLB. However, once Cole takes the mound in pinstripes, for him, it is very much on.