The 2021 MLB Opening Day marked the start of my third season as a photographer for Major League Baseball and like the start of the 2020 season, we still were dealing with the effects of Covid. This year was a little different as I was not shooting from the photo wells to start the season, but from the stands. Was it ideal, no, but you play the hand you were dealt not the one you hoped for. The big difference to start this season was that fans were allowed back to the games albeit a limited number of fans to start the season.
Another change was that Marlins Park was no more and the naming rights were sold and now the stadium was known as loanDepot Park. It still took some time for me to adjust to that name change, but things rarely stay the same forever.
The 2021 MLB Opening Day game for me brought in the reigning AL Champions, the Tampa Bay Rays. The Marlins were coming off their first playoff series in over 10 years so I was anticipating an exciting opening series between these two teams. I was really excited to see the Marlins pitching rotation in action against the Rays sort of a way for me to see how they stacked up against the team that just went to the World Series.
I will say that I was disappointed with the Marlins organization for not doing more to celebrate Opening Day. All there was were red, white and blue banners hanging along the walls and gates. When I went to the upper deck to get a stadium shot as the grounds crew removed tarps from batting practice, I was shocked to see nothing painted on the field anywhere stating it was the 2021 MLB Opening Day game. I felt it was treated like an every day game and I definitely expanded that on my podcast.
The opening series went to the Rays 2 games to 1, but the story that began to emerge was the coming out party for Jazz Chisholm. While he played last year and played sporadically, he became the starter during Spring Training and it was clear to see why. He was an electric player who could provide a spark at any moment. Quick around the bases, has some pop in his bat and has a swagger to him that has been missing from the Marlins since the days of Jose Fernandez. I really think he is going to be a force to reckon with as the season goes on.
Below are some of photos from the opening series between the Rays and Marlins.