AND NOW IT REALLY BEGINS …

First off, this latest missive from Kevin in Scranton, where Yankees GM just threw out one of the ceremonial first snowballs, er, pitches:

The Mets are no longer affiliated with Norfolk but they seem to have a lot of old New York faces here tonight. In addition to Jesse Levis, a former Met farmhand and coach, the club’s advance scout Gary LaRocque also stopped by the press box at PNC Park. Today is his 54th birthday. Happy Birthday Gary. Try and stay warm down there in the lower bowl. Though the snow has stopped for the time being, the temperature here continues to drop as the players get introduced. Wind chills could be in the teens by the end of the game. That hasn’t seemed to damper the enthusiasm, though, as the sellout crowd continues to file in. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is also in attendance tonight.

  Not all midwest games fell victim to the elements, though … the Minors’ one and only NEW team, the Great Lake Loons (Dodgers), just got started at South Bend with one of the marquee matchups of the night. Loons ace Clayton Kershaw, a first-rounder last summer who struck out 54 and walked five in 37 Gulf Coast League innings in his debut, takes the mound for the Loons while Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Brett Anderson makes his professional debut for the Silver Hawks.

  Anderson, a second-round pick last year, is the son of Oklahoma coach Frank Anderson. In his first inning he allowed a leadoff hit to speedy Trayvon Robinson before retiring the side including his first pro strikeout.

  The Loons have moved to Midland, Michigan, near Saginaw from across the state in Battle Creek where they played last year as the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays. They play at the brand new Dow Diamond.

  Two more games on the evening’s slate have bitten the dust as Altoona-Erie (Eastern League) and Corpus Christi-Wichita were both postponed. I know, I didn’t think we’d lose a Texas League game either but apparently it is raining in Kansas. At least it’s not a tornado.

  Most of the night’s games are just getting started around now so sit back and enjoy.

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