Opening Day First Pitch Lineup: Where's Obama?

Jeanne Sager

Mike Mussina
New York Yankees welcome Mike Mussina back ... for a day.
Sports fans, it's the day we've been waiting for since October. It's opening day in Major League Baseball!! The New York Yankees! The Cincinnati Reds! The Atlanta Braves! They're all back today. And for the first opening day in what feels like forever, the roster of first pitch honorees ensures it will be a notably non-political one.

Nope, President Obama isn't coming out to throw the first pitch at the Washington Nationals game this afternoon. I have to admit I'm relieved. While he's off dealing with some important stuff (cough, Libya, cough), we don't have to hear a Republican/Democrat debate over whether the president should be taking time out of his busy (cough, Libya, cough) schedule for sports. We can focus on the real issue today. Baseball!

A roll call of the first pitch lineup across the major leagues has one common theme this year -- it's full of people who actually have something to do with the game:

New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers: Five-time All Star and former Yankee Mike Mussina will take the mound in the Bronx this afternoon. He'll be just the 10th former Yankee to throw out an opening day pitch. 

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants: Thirty years ago he pitched an opening day shutout, and Fernando Valenzuela will be back on the mound at Dodgers Stadium today to do the honors with the first pitch for his old team.

Kansas City Royals vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Mike Sweeney is a member of the Kansas City Royals again -- just for the day. He's signed a one-day contract so he can officially retire as a Royal. But first the slugger will have to hurl the first ball.

St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Diego Padres: A foot injury means Jim Edmonds won't be back in centerfield for the Cardinals this year, but he'll get one last chance to stand in front of the crowd at Busch Stadium this afternoon when he throws out the first pitch.

And what about the other two games scheduled for opening day? The president will be replaced at the Washington Nationals' stadium with five pitches thrown simultaneously by flag officers representing the five branches of the military to start off the game against the Atlanta Braves. In Cincinnati, the Reds have invited retired Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher to help kick off the game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

What game will you be watching?


Image via Willie Zhang/Flickr

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