By Dakota Busch
The New York Yankees will begin their 2021 regular season on Thursday, April 1, with a significant number of fans in the stands.
New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Yankee Stadium would have 20 percent capacity starting for their first home game on Thursday afternoon. The Yankees open their season on the first day of the month, hosting the Toronto Blue Jays in the Bronx.
“The entire Yankees organization — and especially our players on the field — feed off the energy that our loyal and dedicated fans bring to Yankee Stadium,” said Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner in a statement to Sports Illustrated. “We are thrilled to be able to have them back in 2021 and promise them the highest standards for health and safety this season and beyond.”
Testing for COVID-19 will be required when these stadiums open as an additional precaution. Temperature checks, face coverings, physical distancing, cashless transactions, and mobile ticketing will be new changes to allow fans. Those that have already received their vaccine will have access to the stadium once the season begins. With 20 percent capacity, Yankee Stadium will welcome as many as 10,850 fans.
“I think we’re going to see the capacity increase and the testing requirements decrease as we get more evidence,” Cuomo said in a press conference. “We want to start safe and smart.”
The Yankees have been finishing up Spring Training at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. According to the MLB Website, the team hopes to begin the regular season with Aaron Judge, Gary Sánchez, and Giancarlo Stanton, healthy and productive. This would secure a powerhouse lineup.
“We feel like we can be a special offensive group if those guys can post together a lot,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said to the MLB. “I’m hopeful we can find out how good that would look because I think it could be special.”
Their biggest signing of this year was bringing back second baseman DJ LeMahieu. The Yankees and LeMahieu agreed to a six-year, $90 million deal as he’s reached an entirely new level in his two years with the Yankees, hitting .336/.386/.536 overall. He finished fourth in voting for American League Most Valuable Player Award.
“There’s one goal with the Yankees, and that’s to win the World Series,” said LeMahieu to the MLB. “ In my years, we haven’t been able to do it. I want to be a Yankee, but I wanted to be a part of this group even more.”
Boone has said that he would like to carry a 13-man pitching staff to begin the year, giving him 13 position players to mix and match.
“Talk is always cheap, obviously, at this point, but I like the winter we had, and the additions we made, I think, are gonna be impactful,” said Boone in a CBS article. “The makeup of this team is championship caliber. Hopefully, this is the year we get to the top of that mountain.”
The Yankees finished 33-27 in the 2020 season. They came in second in the ALS, and their season ended on Mike Brosseau’s revenge homer against Aroldis Chapman in the ALDS. They will return with a team that looks broadly the same in 2021. New York will be in search of its first title since 2009.