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MLB Opening Day: 'Batter up!' for fast facts on the 2012 season

MLB Opening Day: A quick overview on the 2012 season, from the re-branded Marlins to a new ticket trend. MLB Opening Day is, in reality, a night game at the new Marlins ballpark in Miami Wednesday.

By Ross AtkinStaff writer / April 4, 2012

Miami Marlins' Ricky Nolasco throws the first pitch of the of the game against New York Yankees' Derek Jeter in the first inning of their spring training baseball game in Miami, Sunday, April 1. MLB Opening Day occurs in Miami Wednesday night.

Alan Diaz/AP

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Forget the two games the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners played in Tokyo last week. The real launch of the 2012 Major League Baseball season occurs tonight in Miami. The game will be televised on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET.

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The Marlins have undergone a major makeover with a new name (Miami instead of Florida Marlins), new uniforms, a new manager (Ozzie Guillen), and a new steel-and-glass, baseball-only, retractable dome stadium with fish tanks behind home plate and a mechanical home-run “structure” with spinning marlins and splashing water.

Miami hosts the St. Louis Cardinals, the defending World Series champions, who lost their biggest star (Albert Pujols) to free agency and the Los Angeles Angels, and their manager of many years (Tony La Russa) to retirement.

Here are more facts to lead off the new season: 

The Texas Rangers have now lost the last two World Series, and were one strike away from clinching their first-ever title last October against St. Louis. Some wonder if the team’s latest heartbreak will leave indelible self-doubts with the franchise. To help keep the club in the hunt, it signed Yu Darvish, a dominating pitcher from Japan who struck out 498 batters during the last two seasons.  

The Chicago Cubs’ biggest off-season acquisition was not a player but general manager Theo Epstein, who held that position with the Red Sox when they ended their 86-year championship drought. Boston received relief pitcher Chris Carpenter in return. Even if Epstein has the Midas touch, it may be a few more years before the Cubs are in contention. The team last won the World Series in 1908.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to snap a streak of 19 straight losing seasons, the longest in American pro sports history

Two additional wild-card teams are being added to the postseason this year. The two in each league will meet in a one-game playoff to determine which team advances. Five wild cards have won the World Series, including St. Louis last year.

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