There’s nothing better than the baseball season. The glorious game’s 2010 season is set to start this week as pitchers and catchers report to camp. Finally, the wait for the game that America loves so dearly is set to begin. It means warm sun, barbeques, summer storms, and much more is on its way in a couple months.
It is time for the players to work out their kinks and recover from offseason injuries and rehab to get back in time for Opening Day. It is time for players to change their stances and time for Cole Hamels to develop another pitch. Time for team bonding and hard work. Time for Florida and Arizona. Time for more bad looking batting practice uniforms. Time for autographs and time for bullpen sessions. Time for buckets of baseballs and buckets of sunflower seeds.
Its ’bout time for baseball.
Don’t get me wrong though, I love all the other sports and enjoy them while baseball is not with us but the aura of baseball is unbeatable. The freshly cut grass. The smoke that sits in front of the warehouse at Camden Yards. The Roy Hobbs homerun that lights up the sky. The ivy that lines the Wrigley Field walls. The dirty dugouts. The dim Iowa cornfields that surround an illustrious diamond at night. The 3-2 knee buckling breaking ball to end the inning. And I could go on.
All this is about to be back with the great USofA in a couple days. As usual, there are questions that surround the upcoming season. If you are one of my few readers, then you might remember the team-by-team preview I did on this blog last year. Because of my slow internet this year at school, that won’t be happening again. Heck, I’m only writing now because my class was cancelled and I wanted to stay on campus until my next one. I’ll throw out some questions and do my best to answer them with some bold predictions.
How much of a threat do the Mariners pose to the Angels in 2010?
Well last year the M’s finished over .500 and they got a lot better with huge offseason acquisitions in Chone Figgins and Cliff Lee. The problem out West is that the Rangers got better too and even the Athletics got a bit better. I think that the Mariners are a bigger threat to the Angels than last year now that the Halos have lost John Lackey. But the Angels still have a solid rotation from the top to the bottom where the Mariners have some questions. I think the the Angels’ wins go down this season but they remain division champs with Seattle and Texas close behind.
Will anyone for the Mets hit over twelve homeruns?
As if it couldn’t get any worse after the way 2007 and 2008 ended, it did (and I love it). The Mets opened their new spacious ballpark and then couldn’t hit in it or stay healthy. To answer the question though, yes. Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran, and David Wright will definately have over that number while Jeff Francoer and David Murphy should get into the high teens too. Last year was a freak year for the Mets, and I expect them to be contenders once again in 2010.
Who do the Pirates trade first this year?
Sorry Pittsburgh fans, you know someone’s leaving. No one’s ever safe in Pittsburgh but I’m pretty sure Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones are safe. I’ll say Brendan Donnelly gets dealt at the deadline to a team that needs a veteran arm in their bullpen. Octavio Dotel and Joel Harahan are also potential trade pieces as well.
Who will have the best spring training record?
Texas Rangers. No reasoning.
More questions to come.
The game is our national pastime. No matter what people say about how it’s losing its touch, there are just countless reasons as to why it is better than any sport in the world. The idea for this post came to me today after I watched my beloved Eagles tie the Cincinnati Bengals. As I left the TV after Donovan McNabb couldn’t find a home for a hail mary post-Shayne Graham missed field goal, I thought about just one of the many reasons why baseball is America’s true pastime: Two teams cannot tie (okay forget the Milwaukee All Star Game). Someone is always better on a given day. The game can theoretically go on for days and even longer. The longest professional game ever was a Triple-A game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings in 1981. The ‘PawSox’ won 3-2 in 33 innings. That game featured hall-of-famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Wade Boggs.
So reason #1: No Ties.
Reason #2: Length of the season. Some complain about how the season is too long, but that only gives more accuracy as to who the best teams in each division are.
Reason #3: Tradition. No sport has a tradition quite like baseball. I could go on forever with this.
Reason #4: No time limit. There’s no clock. The longest game ever recorded time-wise was an 8 hour and six minute affair in which the Chicago White Sox beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-6 in 25 innings. You cannot put a limit on the game
Reason #5: Variation of situations. There are countless situations that a baseball player can be in, and in the seconds that a play occurs they have to make quick decisions. More recently, Chase Utley in part two of game five on the Akinori Iwamura groundball where he threw out Jason Bartlett at home and countless, countless other situations.
Reason #6: Walk-offs. I think the walk-off is one of the most exciting times in the game. The game is over like that. It beats a game winning field goal, touchdown, goal, or basket any day of the week. Bill Mazeroski, Kirk Gibson, Joe Carter (sadly), Chris Chambliss, Chris Burke, Edgar Renteria, Luis Gonzalez, and many many others.
Reason #7: Lack of a salary cap. You can’t limit how much a team can buy. But, when a low-market, low-salary team comes through and becomes successful, it makes the game look even more genuine through the paradox (i.e. ’08 Tampa Bay Rays).
Reason #8: No-hitters and Perfect games. For a pitcher to go out there every inning and not let up a hit all game is one of the most miraculous feats in professional sports, if not the most miraculous. I was at the Kevin Millwood no hitter and it is one of the most unbelievable things I have ever witnessed.
Reason #9: Variation of ballparks and field dimensions. It gives fans more appreciation and pride in their ballpark. It is not limited to 100 yards and two endzones or baseline to baseline. No one cannot limit the way a parks dimensions are set up within that 90 degree angle. From the Polo Grounds deep center to the Minute Maid hill to the Green Monster, each and every stadium is original.
Reason #10: Trek to the majors. From the Rookie Gulf Coast League to the Single-A Short Season New York-Penn League to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, the players in the majors are only the best of the best of the best… of the best.
These are only ten of countless reasons. You cannot limit the reasons, you cannot limit the game to anything. That’s what makes it the best game in the world.