Opening Day in the Core Four Era

The search for answers was conducted with the full knowledge that in the grand scheme of a 162-game schedule, Opening Day means very little. As does the opening week of the season. After all, whatever happened on the first day and in the first week, fifteen of those sixteen teams made the playoffs. And the one year the team didn’t reach the post season, the Yankees won on Opening Day. So that did not mean too much either. Perhaps part of this exercise is to remind all of us that whatever happens today or in the first seven days of the season, we should not get overly excited.

For further proof of the meaninglessness of putting too much stock in the day’s results, consider that this will be C.C. Sabathia‘s fourth Opening Day assignment with the Yankees. We are talking about a guy who has won 72 percent of his decisions as a Yankee. Yet he is 0-1 in his three Opening Day starts with the team with two no-decisions and only pitched decently in one of them.

But just for the sake of interest, and in general anticipation for the start of the season, here are the previous sixteen Opening Days since 1996 with the year, the opponent, winning/losing pitcher and the team’s record in the first seven days:

  • 1996 – (Indians) Win. David Cone. 2-3
  • 1997 – (Mariners) Loss. David Cone. 2-3
  • 1998 – (Angels) Loss. Andy Pettitte. 1-4  *not a great start for one of the best teams in history, eh?
  • 1999 – (Athletics) Loss. Mike Stanton. 5-1
  • 2000 – (Angels) Win. Orlando Hernandez. Save Rivera. 3-3
  • 2001 – (Royals) Win. Roger Clemens. 4-2
  • 2002 – (Orioles) Loss. Roger Clemens. 5-1
  • 2003 – (Blue Jays) Win. Roger Clemens. 4-1
  • 2004 – (Devil Rays) Loss. Mike Mussina. 2-2
  • 2005 – (Red Sox) Win. Randy Johnson. 3-2
  • 2006 – (Tigers) Win. Randy Johnson. 2-4
  • 2007 – (Devil Rays) Win. Luis Vizcaino. 2-3
  • 2008 – (Blue Jays) Win. Chien-Ming Wang. Save Rivera. 3-3
  • 2009 – (Orioles) Loss. C.C. Sabathia. 3-3
  • 2010 – (Red Sox) Loss.  Chan Ho Park. 3-2
  • 2011 – (Tigers) Win. Joba Chamberlain. Save Rivera. 3-2

So there you have it. The Yankees have gone 9-7 (.563) on Opening Day in the Core Four (Two) Era. Rivera has three saves. The Yankees are a combined 47-39 (.547) in the first week of those seasons. The team is 2-3 on Opening Day for the years they won the World Series and a combined 15-13 in the first weeks of those championship seasons. Hardly a reason to get too wrapped up in whatever happens today and in the first week of the 2012 season. Of course, Yankee fans will still be pleased with a win today and a winning first week.

About William Tasker

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at since 2003.

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