The one-year anniversary tournament, JAL XIII, will open up with an American Conference throw down between the defending champion Missouri Express and the up-and-coming Cowlitz Bambinos.
The JAL Opening Game has been a tradition since JAL IX. Every tournament the "Opening Game affairs" begin with the league's Plate Ceremony. During the ceremony the defending champs are honored and presented with their title plates. Following the ceremony the champs get to play in the first regular season game of the tournament vs a team on their schedule the league deems to be a marquee match-up and one of the most anticipated games.
For all the reasons above, the JAL's Opening Game has become a big deal each tournament, as it should being the event that kicks everything off.
Here's a quick look back at the history of the Opening Game since its establishment (Bold = defending champs)....
JAL XII: Toutle Lynx 9, Bay Area Fog 5
JAL XI: Bay Area Fog 6, Castle Rock Rapids 4
JAL X: Toutle Lynx 5, Castle Rock Rapids 0
JAL IX: Columbia Bison 2, Vancouver Cobras 1
Interestingly enough, the defending champions are 1-3 all-time in the Opening Game. But as for JAL XIII, the Express are the expected favorites to win.
In JAL XII the two teams played their first game of the tournament against each other and the Express came out on top 4-1. The 3 -run loss was the 2nd closest any team played Missouri in the tournament though.
Everyone seems to think that the Bambinos are on their way to being a playoff team in JAL XIII, and of course the Express will be on the quest to become the first team ever in JAL history to repeat as champions. Our Opening Game for JAL XIII should be a good one.