PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- At about 1:10 p.m. on April 1, a Mets pitcher -- probably Jonathon Niese -- will throw the first pitch of the 2013 season to a Padres batter in Queens.
At about the same exact moment, a Yankees pitcher -- probably CC Sabathia -- will throw the first pitch of his team's 2013 season to a Red Sox batter in the Bronx.
This is not an April Fools' Day joke.
The Mets and Yankees are scheduled to both open the season on the same day, at the same time, in the same city, for the first time ever.
The Yankees' marquee rivalry matchup with the hated Red Sox and the Mets' . . . um . . . game against the Padres could have been staggered by time or played on different days. But Major League Baseball and the teams have decided this is the way it's going to be, even though a Mets official admits it's not what they prefer.
"Our feeling is that while it's not ideal to have both teams opening at home on the same day at the same time, it's also an interesting opportunity to have the entire city and the surrounding area celebrate Opening Day in New York regardless of which particular team you follow," said David Howard, the Mets' executive vice president of business operations, said. "We think there's actually some upside to it even though, again, we wouldn't have chosen it."
Still, Yankees-Red Sox feels like Broadway and Mets-Padres feels like Off-Broadway.
The Mets have to work to get their fans into the ballpark today while building for tomorrow. It's a tough sell on most days -- but Howard said he is "confident" the opener will be a sellout.
"Ticket sales have been strong," he said. "I think overall, both teams will do well. We both have significant fan bases and this is going to be a big game for us, as it will be for them. We're still confident that we'll be sold out."
Officials from both teams said it was important for them to have the opener April 1 followed by a day off so they could protect themselves against bad weather. Asked if the Mets considered changing the game time, Howard said they didn't.
"Our view is Opening Day should be a 1:10 start," he said. "That's our tradition. It's something that our fans, our customers look forward to and moving to either a 4:10 or 7:10 start would we think severely adversely affect the experience in a number of ways."
Katy Feeney, MLB's vice president for scheduling and club relations, said the teams control the game times and either could have moved if they wanted to. (A Yankees spokesman said the team didn't consider it.)
Feeney said a number of factors over the 162-game schedule contributed to both teams starting the season at home.
"It's something we do try to avoid," Feeney said. "We looked at trying to change it, because it is not something we want. But when New York had three teams, it happened on occasion, too."
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