GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — After a four-month delay, Thursday was finally Opening Day for Major League Baseball.
And, as CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, it wasn’t like any other.
We’re used to fans filling the seats at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field. But now, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Nationals Park in Washington D.C., where the Yankees are opening their season against the defending World Series champion Nationals, was empty.
The Mets play at home Friday afternoon against the Atlanta Braves.
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It has been a long time coming for the snapping of the leather and swinging of bats. Just ask baseball fans.
“I hope the Mets get a better year this year,” one fan said.
“I’m super-excited. The Yankees are going to take it all the way to the end,” another said.
After being delayed for months due to coronavirus concerns, the start of the season means a lot to families shopping for everything baseball. It will be a shortened regular season — only 60 games — and the kids are poised.
Jonah Saca and his dad were stocking up in Carle Place for the Yankees’ opener.
“I’m set for the game, yes we are. We are excited,” his dad said.
“We can watch real sports, instead of something from 20 years ago,” one person said.
“Unfortunately, it’s in Washington and, unfortunately, there’s no fans,” another said.
So let’s serenade virtually. McLogan witnessed the handiwork of Brooklyn College student Harrison Sheckler, who put together a video a montage of many people singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
As for real cheers and boos, MLB is piping in artificial crowd noise at stadiums and there is an app you can download on the league’s website called Cheer at the Ballpark, which will let you send in your own live cheers and chants during the games.
Watch Jennifer McLogan’s report —
Things looked different at New York City’s sports bars Thursday night, too.
“What I would do to be in the outfield in the standing room only, just like drinking a beer, just in the sun, burning my head, rooting on the Yankees. It’s the greatest thing in the whole world,” fan Steven Portner told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
For baseball fans in the city, a sports bar flatscreen is the next best thing.
“I was getting into spring training, and then the whole shutdown happened, but very excited baseball’s back,” fan Alec Wise said.
Upper East Side bars got creative for the game, angling their screens so customers could watch through open windows and setting up TVs on sidewalk scaffolding.
Carlow East on Lexington rigged their big screen right out front.
“How are we gonna take sports to our customers still? So we came up with the TV outside and here we are. People are relaxing, having some food, having a hot dog, having a beer and then watching the game,” Carlow East manager Enda Williams said.
Without indoor dining this year, sports bars depend on good weather as much as the games do.
“I’d rather be inside there, watching with my buddies in a nice air-conditioned place, but the next best is this, what we can do best right now,” fan Dinesh Venkata said.
“It’s all about friendship,” fan Derek Persad said.
After a four-month delay, the baseball season brings a bit of comfort to fans.
“It feels like regular again. Even though we’re wearing the masks. It’s a little odd, but baseball’s back, baby. That’s all that matters,” Portner said.
Doing whatever it takes to watch the game together at a safe social distance.