HBP just the start for Jeter? MAYBE

He steps to the plate for the beginning of the end. Yankees captain Derek Jeter, in his final season, is hitting No. 2 — how fitting — in the lineup on Opening Day against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. After taking the first pitch for a strike — he did say he wanted to take it all in this year, after all — Jeter digs in. Astros starter Scott Feldman rears back, unleashes an 88-mph fastball and …

Is this how it’s going to be for Jeter during his farewell tour? Mariano Rivera was honored in opposing ballparks all of last year while he wrapped up his career, but is this a sign that it’s going to be different for the Kalamazoo Kid? Tuesday in Houston was just an HBP, but could things escalate in other road ballparks?

Upcoming trips:

Rogers Centre (Friday-Sunday): Blue Jays invite the Ultimate Warrior to return to the site of his greatest victory and throw out the first pitch/gorilla press slam Jeter.

Tropicana Field (April 17-20): Rays invite Jeter to a private tour of the Rays Touch Tank. Push him in Rays Touch Tank.

Fenway Park (April 22-24): For every Jeter at-bat, the Red Sox play Bronson Arroyo’s rendition of “Dirty Water” for his walk-up music.

And that’s only April.

The main questions people were asking entering Jeter’s final year were: Can he stay healthy? Can he still perform on the field? Are the Yankees good enough to send him out with one last World Series title?

But maybe we ignored the major question: Will Jeter get no respect?

Brian Cougar

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HBP just the start for Jeter? MAYBE

Opening Day ushers in new season of dread

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The dark cloud of Opening Day is upon us. Will your favorite team go 0-162? Will your favorite player bat .000? Will your favorite pitcher never record an out? Probably.

No more news on early arrivals to spring camp. No more reports on how your favorite veteran, coming off a down year, is in the best shape of his life. No more backup catcher and fifth-starter competitions. No more Spring Training game play-by-play on Twitter.

The arrival of Opening Day brings with it the sad reminder that this seemingly never ending winter will soon come to a close. The arrival of Opening Day means the Yankees are beginning what could be an unsuccessful attempt to claim their 28th World Series title. It means the Red Sox are beginning what could be an unsuccessful attempt to become the first repeat champions since 2000.

Hawk Harrelson, back in the booth. Michael Kay, back in the booth. Rex Hudler, back in the booth.

A-Rod, banished.

Instead of letting his son play hooky and taking him to the game, a father will send him off to school. Instead of calling out sick and taking his father to the game, a son will head to work.

For many fans, this Opening Day will be their last.

Terence Mann once said baseball “reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.”

He lied.

Brian Cougar

Opening Day ushers in new season of dread