By Sam McPherson
The 2017 Major League Baseball regular season is now underway, as teams are in their third week of play. The Chicago Cubs are the defending champions, but there are a handful of teams ready to dethrone them and take the World Series trophy home for themselves come October. If you’ve been caught up with other things this month, here’s what you missed in MLB action last week.
20th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson Day
Back in 1997, MLB took the unprecedented step of unilaterally retiring the No. 42 for all teams, in honor of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since then, so it was wonderful to see the Los Angeles Dodgers unveil a new statue at their grand stadium in honor of the team’s legend.
Every April 15, all major leaguers wear No. 42 in honor of Robinson, and at no other time is anyone allowed to wear the number. Now, when fans and teams visit Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, they’ll be able to pay their respects in a new way to the Hall of Fame player and civil rights leader.
The New York Yankees have a perfect week
Five games into the 2017 season, the Bronx Bombers had lost four of five games. For a team with just one postseason appearance since 2012, this was not the start the New York Yankees envisioned to begin the new year. However, the team recovered to win its next seven games and move into first place in the American League East. Last week, New York completed three-game sweeps at Yankee Stadium over both the Tampa Bay Rays and the St. Louis Cardinals, respectively, outscoring the opponents in the six games by a combined 35-15 score. Things are looking up in the Bronx now, aren’t they?
Cubs raise the 2016 World Series championship flag at Wrigley Field
Generations of baseball fans in the North Side of Chicago had waited forever for a moment like this, and it finally arrived on Monday, April 10. After more than a century of patience, the Chicago Cubs finally got to celebrate another World Series title in front of the hometown fans. This was the first time it had ever happened at Wrigley Field as well, since the ballpark didn’t open until 1914, and the Cubs’ last championship was in 1908.
To make things even sweeter for the Cubs and their fans in attendance that night, the hometown team won on a walk-off single in the ninth inning by first baseman Anthony Rizzo, beating the Dodgers just like they did in the 2016 National League Championship Series.
Bumgarner winless after three starts
The hero of the 2014 World Series for the San Francisco Giants, MadBum has become an icon in the City by the Bay. However, he has started the season winless through his first three starts, and the Giants are in last place among NL West Division teams after dropping three of four to the Colorado Rockies at AT&T Park last week. Bumgarner has a respectable 3.43 ERA through 21 innings so far this year, with 24 strikeouts. He also hit two home runs in the season opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Alas, Bumgarner has never won 20 games in a regular season before, so he will need to turn it around quickly in order to achieve that milestone in 2017.
Home run barrage off the bat of the Céspedes
In beating up the Philadelphia Phillies, 14-4, last Tuesday, the New York Mets got a special performance from outfielder Yoenis Céspedes. The two-time Home Run Derby champion blasted three homers in the game, and he also added a double to drive in five runs on the night.
Céspedes wasn’t done for the week, either, as on Thursday on the road against the Miami Marlins, the 31-year-old slugger hit two more home runs, giving him a total of five in three games. For the season now, Céspedes has six HRs total, and his career-high mark (35, set in 2015) looks like it could be bested in 2017.