The 2018 MLB season may have started on March 29, the earliest Opening Day in MLB history, but nearly two weeks later, some of the teams were still hosting their own home openers.
Of the 30 teams, 13 started at home on March 29, while two other home teams were delayed a day due to inclement weather. The other teams who started the season away from their home fields had their home openers spread throughout the first two weeks of April, with the last home opener going to the Cubs on April 9.
Each team had new ways to celebrate the 2018 season, with the most popular being changes or additions to their in-stadium food selection. Other teams also upgraded their scoreboards in one way or another, among other things.
However, one thing nearly every team did, if not all 30 of them, was add extra protective netting behind the dugouts. A line drive can quickly leave the field of play and go into the stands, so the netting was added to prevent injury in the event that a fan cannot react quickly enough to get out of the path of the foul ball.
It was a tough, but necessary move as fans are on their cell phones or having conversations much more now as they attend a baseball game and might not see the ball coming at them until it is too late. The netting can be distracting to the viewer, but the important thing is that it keeps fans safe.
Although the net may make things a little harder to see, teams making upgrades to their scoreboards helped to even things out.
The Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Angels each installed new scoreboards.
The Rockies new board is 258 percent bigger than their previous and has a mountain cutout going along the top of it. The Angels upgraded both of their scoreboards, expanding the one in right field to 9,500 square feet, making it one of the largest in MLB.
Other teams have put in new spaces that fans can use to socialize while they watch the game.
The Oakland A’s have a new space called The Treehouse where fans can eat, drink and watch the game. The St. Louis Cardinals, Minnesota Twins and New York Mets also have new similar social areas for fans to enjoy during the games.
Teams made other small changes that might not be noticed by everyone but were important enough to be made.
For example, the Angels repainted their giant A and replaced light bulbs in the halo to make it shine brighter when they win. They also lowered the home run line on their right field wall from 18 feet to just 8 feet.
On the second night of the Angels opening homestand, two of the Angels’ five home runs hit the wall just above the yellow home run line. In previous years, those hits by outfielder Mike Trout and catcher Rene Rivera would have likely been base hits or doubles.
“We wondered how many extra home runs Trout would possibly get in this ballpark with the home run wall being lower there, with the yellow line,” said Angels color commentator Mark Gubicza on the television broadcast after Trout’s home run.
In Los Angeles, the Dodgers made several changes as well, including entrance expansions, new lounge areas and new places to eat. They also relocated the visiting team clubhouse and gave fans access to an improved Wi-Fi network.
Lastly, the 30 teams brought back the patriotic bunting that is seen all over and around each stadium as the teams celebrate their first home series of the season.
Although the teams and stadiums may change each season, America’s Pastime continues to grow drawing fans of all ages to the seats of historic ballparks all over the United States.