Ready or not, excited or not, even interested or not, the long-delayed and shortened Major League Baseball season starts tonight with the Yankees facing the defending champion Nationals in Washington…maybe.

The weather forecast for the D.C. area is calling for a strong possibility of severe thunderstorms and it would “so 2020” for the opener to be delayed or even postponed.  If the game is played it will feature a marquee pitching matchup with Gerrit Cole making his debut in pinstripes against Max Scherzer. First pitch just after 7 p.m on ESPN.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic followed by bitter labor negotiations the season has been reduced to 60 games which could make for an exciting ten-week sprint to the finish.

On the other hand games will be played in large empty stadiums and despite piped-in music and more it may be only for diehard fans to watch three hours or more on a nightly basis.  I will be the first to admit I found the summer exhibition games pretty boring but of course those games did not count.

On paper the Yankees are clearly the team to beat in the American League and you could likely say the same about the L.A. Dodgers in the National League.  Of course injuries, especially to pitchers could be a major factor as well as players missing time if they test positive for the virus.

The Mets, already without Noah Syndergaard, have now lost starting pitcher Marcus Strohman for what could be considerable time with a torn calf muscle.  When you’re a Mets fan you just expect bad news. It comes with the territory.

The Mets and Phillies open their seasons Friday night at home with Atlanta coming to CitiField and Miami making the trip to Citizens Bank Park.

A bit closer to home the Jackson Jags have advanced to the South Jersey semifinals in the Last Dance World Series following a 5-3 victory over Washington Township Wednesday night at FirstEnergy Park.

Lehigh-bound lefty Nick Beetel threw five no-hit innings and the bullpen held on to send the Jags into next Tuesday’s semis against St. Joseph of Metuchen with that game also to be played in Lakewood.

One other note under the headline of “expect more of this in the weeks ahead.”  There will be no fall sports season for student-athletes in Carteret with the school district announcing last night they have cancelled all athletics and the marching band over safety and health concerns.

The Ramblers are a Group 3 school competing in the Greater Middlesex Conference.