MLB Opening Day: 2024 regular season kicks off in full with Shohei Ohtani cloud looming

by 24USATVMarch 28, 2024, 5:20 p.m. 20
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Although fans have been treated to a glimpse of MLB action, the 2024 season kicks off in full on Thursday with Opening Day.

The Seoul Series saw the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Deigo Padres officially raise the curtain on the new calendar with a two-game series in South Korea, but the rest of MLB begins their campaign this week.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Opening Day.

The Opening Day slate of games takes place on Thursday, March 28, with 26 teams taking to the field. Two more allotted Opening Day games will be played on Friday following rain postponements.

The Baltimore Orioles and the Los Angeles Angels kick off the day’s action at 3:05 PM ET at Camden Yards in Maryland. The Orioles will hold a moment of silence to honor the victims and the city’s “brave first responders who immediately stepped into action” before the team’s opening home game of the season after Wednesday’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

Every game is available live on MLB.TV as well as local broadcasters. You can find the list of local broadcasters here.

The majority of the Los Angeles Dodgers offseason was dominated with optimism and talk of a World Series challenge after the acquisition of two-time MVP Shohei Ohtani and pitching phenom Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

However, that baseball discussion has been overshadowed in recent weeks following the recent gambling scandal involving Ohtani and his longtime interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.

The scandal had broken while the Dodgers were in South Korea last week when ESPN and the Los Angeles Times – which broke the story – reported Ohtani’s lawyers accused Mizuhara of “massive theft” of millions of dollars and placing bets with a bookmaker who is under federal investigation. Mizuhara was fired while the team was in Seoul.

Ohtani, who during the offseason signed baseball’s richest contract with the Dodgers, adamantly denied betting on any sport or paying a bookie and placed the blame for the improprieties squarely on his former interpreter who the two-time American League (AL) MVP alleged was stealing money from his account.

With the cloud of this scandal hanging over him, Ohtani went 3-for-10 with two RBIs and a stolen base in the Seoul Series and will make his home debut against the St. Louis Cardinals at 6:10 p.m. ET.

Although most of the discussion around the Dodgers over the last week or so has been about the scandal and how much it might affect Ohtani, the Dodgers still have arguably the best roster in the MLB, with Ohtani, Yamamoto, Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, Tyler Glasnow and Walker Buehler all featuring on ESPN’s top 100 players rankings.

For a team with so much history and talent behind it, missing out on the postseason last year was a huge let down for the New York Yankees.

It was the first time since 2016 that the team had done so, and a dramatic improvement is expected in 2024.

The Yankees sought to dramatically overhaul their roster during the offseason, the main acquisition being Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres.

The three-time All-Star hit 35 home runs and had 109 runs batted in (RBIs) with a .275 batting average last season for San Diego and is one of the favorites to challenge for the American League MVP award this season.

With a roster including Soto, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole, the Yankees are expected to be one of the highest powered teams in the AL this time around and begin their 2024 campaign on the road against the 2022 champion Houston Astros.

Other names to keep an eye on

Around the MLB, there are plenty of other storylines to keep an eye on.

In one of Thursday’s postponed games – the Atlanta Braves will play the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday – where the reigning National League (NL) MVP will make his first appearance of the year.

Ronald Acuña Jr. is coming off a stellar personal season, one which saw him become the first player in MLB history to hit at least 40 home runs and steal 70 bases.

Although the Braves lost in the NL Division Series to the Phillies, Acuña Jr. is expected to make another tilt at a consecutive MVP award and likely drive Atlanta to another deep playoff run.

Elsewhere, the Texas Rangers will begin their defense of their World Series title at home against the Chicago Cubs.

Outside of the team’s established stars, Texas’ breakout star could be Wyatt Longford who was drafted fourth overall last year and blossomed during Spring Training.

Here is the full schedule for the Opening Day slate of games (all times in ET):

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