The bunting was hanging from the railings. The marching bands were on the field. Both teams were lined up along the foul lines and for the start of the game at least, the stands were full.
But it didn't take long before Opening Day at Yankee Stadium -- a Yankees-Red Sox game, no less! -- began to feel like a late September slog between two clubs playing out the string.
The beginning of the 2013 season felt a lot like the end of the 2012 season, with the Yankees going down quietly in a rapidly emptying Stadium under chilly, graying skies. And like last year, the fans who did stick around for the end of this one basically stayed to vent, and curse, and drink.
This was no way to begin a season, and after today's off-day, maybe the Yankees can start with a fresh slate on Wednesday night.
As Kevin Youkilis said after his Yankees debut (1-for-4, double, run), "Throw out the losses and cherish the wins. It's only one game."
He better hope it's not an omen for what's in store the rest of the season, because when the only clutch hit of the day is delivered by Francisco Cervelli, the No. 9 hitter, it hardly bodes well.
Then again, how many times will the Yankees get the first two runners of an inning on base with the heart of the order coming up and fail to score? (Oh, yeah, that was a problem last year, wasn't it?)
The Yankees' seventh inning yesterday was a nightmare revisited when after Cervelli and Brett Gardner drew walks, Eduardo Nunez, Robinson Cano and Youkilis struck out. With the Yankees trailing by only three runs (5-2) at the time, it was a truly backbreaking sequence. That was what drove most of the 49,000 fans fleeing for the exits. By the time the game ended, with Boston having added three more runs, you could literally count the fans left in the ballpark.
In hindsight, you wonder if perhaps Joe Girardi needs a little more time to figure out how to get the most out of his injury-depleted, low-powered lineup. For instance, do you maybe have Nunez bunt the runners over? If so, not only do you give up an out, but by leaving first base open, you probably take the bat out of Cano's hands. Then again, you've loaded them up for Youkilis, who was having a pretty good day at the plate, followed by Vernon Wells, who has some pop in his bat, and Travis Hafner, the closest thing to a slugger this lineup has.
Girardi, of course, shrugged off any suggestion that he will need to manage these Bronx Bunters differently that he did the team that his 245 home runs last year.
"I think I have a pretty good feel for our lineup," he said. "As far as being a different type of lineup, yes, we are a different type of lineup. There's no doubt about that. We're not a club that is just going to hit home runs. We're going to have to score runs other ways. We had some guys come in late, but I think I have a pretty good idea what they're capable of, and we'll go from there."
Tomorrow night would be a good time to start. Wipe away the Opener and start working on ways to create runs, and wins, to cherish, not forget.
QUESTION: Do you think Girardi should manage this lineup differently?
UP NOW: A plethora of blogs and other goodies from Andrew Marchand, Kieran Darcy and myself on yesterday's Opening Day fiasco, plus an Ian O'Connor column that will put the whole thing in perspective.
ON DECK: Off-day for the Yankees, followed by Wednesday night's Game 2 of the season, and the series, Hiroki Kuroda (16-11, 3.32 in 2011) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (11-8, 4.56). Marchand will handle the off-day coverage, so check in often and as always, thanks for reading.