And a great morning to baseball fans. Opening Day 2023 is about to throw out the first pitch in just a few hours. All 30 MLB teams are heading to the ballparks today with Cole, Ohtani, deGrom, Nola, Bieber and Snell on the mound, just to name a few.
Plus, the Sacramento Kings have officially snapped the longest playoff drought in American pro sports, and the NHL Western Conference feels like a game of ‘Puck, Puck, Goose’ (pick whoever you want and run).
Check back tomorrow for all the Final Four festivities and a rundown of Opening Day.
Welcome Back, Baseball!
MLB Opening Day 2023 Has Arrived — Here’s What You Need to Know
Baseball fans, your time has come. After a long winter full of rule changes, massive free-agent contracts and a spring schedule full of excitement, MLB Opening Day 2023 is finally here. In many areas of the country, it’s still a little chilly for a day at the ballpark, but no sweat. Baseball’s resurrection means summer heat is coming quicker than Shohei Ohtani’s fastball. From rule changes and spring training to World Series odds and today’s schedule for all 30 teams, let’s unleash the Opening Day Guide.
By now, you’ve likely heard about the MLB rule changes taking over in the 2023 season. The pitch clock is the most significant change, and it added to the pace of play during spring training by shaving off 26 minutes in average game length. There are also pickoff attempt limits, defensive shift limits and larger bases that should add a little zing to how baseball is played over the next seven months.
Spring Training Recap
While records in spring training aren’t a definitive indication of where teams are heading in 2023, they do tell a story. Teams in the Grapefruit League played roughly 25 games while teams in the Cactus League played closer to 30. Some of the top-performing teams in spring ball include: Cardinals (17-7), Braves (18-10), Angels (18-11), Royals (19-13) and Cubs (17-12).
Others: Padres (+900), Phillies (+1200), Blue Jays (+1300), Mariners (+1300)
MLB Opening Day Schedule
Braves at Nationals (1:05 pm) | Fried vs. Corbin
Giants at Yankees (1:05 pm) | Webb vs. Cole
Orioles at Red Sox (2:10 pm) | Gibson vs. Kluber
Brewers at Cubs (2:20 pm) | Burnes vs. Stroman
Tigers at Rays (3:10 pm) | Rodriguez vs. McClanahan
Phillies at Rangers (4:05 pm) | Nola vs. deGrom
Pirates at Reds (4:10 pm) | Keller vs. Greene
Rockies at Padres (4:10 pm) | Marquez vs. Snell
Blue Jays at Cardinals (4:10 pm) | Manoah vs. Mikolas
Twins at Royals (4:10 pm) | Lopez vs. Greinke
Mets at Marlins (4:10 pm) | Scherzer vs. Alcantara
White Sox at Astros (7:08 pm) | Cease vs. Valdez
Angels at Athletics (10:07 pm) | Ohtani vs. Muller
Coyotes at Dodgers (10:10 pm) | Gallen vs. Urias
Guardians at Mariners (10:10 pm) | Bieber vs. Castillo
2023 Opening Day Matchups Guide (MLB.com)
Opening Day is here. Let’s play ball!
CBS Sports: Ranking MLB Opening Day Pitching Matchups
USA Today: MLB’s Five Most Important Players for 2023
Light The Beam
Kings Wallop Blazers by 40 (120-80) to Snap Longest Playoff Drought in Pro Sports
Sacramento, say it ain’t so! The longest playoff drought in professional sports is officially over. The Kings are heading back to the NBA playoffs for the first time in what feels like an eternity. Sacramento smashed Portland by 40 points on Wednesday night (120-80) with a second-half blitz to secure the franchise’s first postseason berth since 2006 — the longest playoff drought in NBA history and the longest active drought in American professional sports. The Kings outscored the Blazers by 34 in the second half with five players in double figures and 14 different scorers.
Kings Drought By The Numbers (Since 2006)
16 Lottery Picks
11 Different Head Coaches
5 Different Heads of Basketball Operations
Fun Fact: The Kings entered the season with 250-1 odds to win the Pacific Division.
Sacramento has been synonymous with losing for the better part of the 21st century. Now, with all-stars in Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox and a young core of shooters, the Kings will have home-court advantage in at least one round of the playoffs. They’re currently the 3-seed in the West, but they could eclipse Memphis for the No. 2 spot by the season’s end. And the marketing department’s new rallying cry will make its way to your living room come April when Kings players smash that big purple button — Light the Beam!
Holiday Gets Career-High 51: The Bucks hung 149 on the Pacers Wednesday (149-136) in Indiana thanks to a career-high 51 points from Jrue Holiday. He also added eight rebounds and eight rebounds while Giannis Antetokounmpo added a triple-double (38-17-12).
Clippers Cap Grizz: The Clippers and Grizzlies delivered some fierce basketball last night with Russell Westbrook (36) and Ja Morant (36) dueling things out. Robert Covington had 27 off the bench on a 7-for-7 night from 3 to help the Clips end Memphis’s seven-game win streak (141-132).
KD Returns for Suns: After a brief stint in Phoenix before injuring his ankle, Kevin Durant returned for the Suns on Wednesday in a win over the Timberwolves (107-100). KD had 16 points in somewhat limited minutes while Devin Booker poured in 29. The Suns are winners of three straight and currently fourth in the West.
Other NBA Highlights
West Gets Wilder Each Day
Wild Win Against Avs, But Western Conference Is Wide Open in Final Weeks
The Boston Bruins have been in the spotlight all NHL season, and the rest of the NHL’s Eastern Conference is top-heavy, too. We’ve covered it repeatedly over the past few weeks, but the Western Conference in the NHL might be in for the wildest playoff push we’ve ever seen. Five of the eight playoff spots are secured in the East while zero playoff bids have been doled out in the West. There are only about eight games to play. The Wild took down the Avalanche last night (4-2) to regain their footing, but a lot can happen in the final two weeks. Ten teams are separated by eight wins with eight bids on the line and eight games to go.
NHL Western Conference Playoff Picture
1. Wild (97 points)
2. Stars (94 points)
3. Avalanche (94 points)
1. Golden Knights (98 points)
2. Kings (96 points)
3. Oilers (95 points)
1. Kaken (88 points)
2. Jets (85 points)
3. Flames (83 points)
4. Predators (82 points)
The Minor League’s 1st CBA
On the eve of Opening Day for the 2023 season, Major League Baseball reportedly reached a deal with minor league players in the MLBPA that will provide the first collective bargaining agreement for minor leaguers in history. (Bleacher Report)
Iowa’s Caitlin Clark was named Naismith National Player of the Year on Wednesday after she averaged 27.3 points, 8.6 assists, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game. And her Hawkeyes are about to go toe-to-toe with unbeaten South Carolina in the Final Four. (Yahoo! Sports)
The NFL did not have enough support to approve a proposal for flex scheduling of Thursday Night Football games on Amazon when it was taken to a vote this week, but they’re not done pushing for it. Is the league putting Amazon over its players? (Sports Illustrated)