For this Jew, Christmas lasts 6 months (April-September) and Easter (October Playoffs) directly follows. This is code for, Baseball is my religion. And, it is upon us.
This year, I have been particularly excited because I have had an opportunity to watch several spring training games. As always, the YANKEES are my flavour of choice. Unlike last year, though, I will make an effort to support the Blue Jays as well – could have a nice little team coming together – could have another Leafs debacle too.
The Yankees have a remarkably similar team make up as last year. Notable losses are Posada and Burnett. Notable arrivals are Ibanez, Kuroda and Pineda… and the return of Mr. Pettitte! This is a team that won 97 games last year. They are an old team that is obviously only getting older. They have a lot of immovable pieces in their lineup and they are forced to rely on the fact that these veterans still have some juice left (the legal kind of juice that is).
There’s no doubt the Yankees (if they stay healthy) will be a dominant force. The problem for them recently has been pitching in the playoffs. If the youngsters (Hughes and Nova) put together strong seasons, this could be a great team. That being said, the East has some giants and all the money in the world can’t get the Yankees into the playoffs every year (well, it kinda can. 2008 aside, it has been a ridiculous run).
Other teams to look out for are the revamped Miami Marlins, the improved Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (do we all agree this name is lame?) and the Detroit Tigers.
Teams who are still good are the Red Sox (but I don’t think their pitching is that great), the Rays, the Rangers and the Phillies. Who the hell is going to win the NL Central and the West? Could be open season.
The extra wildcard slots are good for fans of smaller market teams, but I don’t know if the way the League devised the new playoff system is that good. As I understand it, there will be a one game playoff between the wild card teams in each league. So what? An extra game at the end of the season? Pretty anti-climactic.
For all you baseball fans out there (are there any?), let me know who your teams are and which players you think will have breakout seasons.