Choose your favorite cliché. It’s that time again.
Fresh cut grass.
Fathers with daughters on their shoulders.
The crack of the long technologically obsolete wooden bat, kept more for its sound than any other practical reason. I know, I know, the record books. We get it, baseball traditionalists, you want the game played like your grandfather played it, even though you now have grandkids of your own. I’m just saying, the times they are a-changing, maybe baseball should at least consider a few updates… Sorry, got myself sidetracked there. I’ll get to that column in a week, or two.
It’s opening day. Baseball season (or seasons, three of them to be specific; spring, summer, and fall) is/are upon us. For me that means sunny weekend trips to the park, where my wife will invariably sit beside me devouring peanuts from their shells like it’s an addiction. The carnage piling up at her feet until she self consciously shuffles her sneakers to brush the evidence away. I noticed honey, I always notice. Honestly, I’d be worried if she ever brought peanuts home, but she doesn’t. Ever. If it’s an addiction, its one that is contained exclusively within Major League Baseball parks. But I digress again…
The cream of the crop from last year’s playoffs look to be strong once again.
The Astros are in the driver’s seat. Standing pat isn’t a bad play when you won it all last year. They’ve added Gerrit Cole to the rotation, but that’s about it. They don’t need much.
For the Yankees, that means adding strength to strength, despite (for once) not having the biggest budget in the majors. Giancarlo Stanton will bring some not-really-needed pop to the pinstripes this year. All my uncles and cousins are thrilled.
The dubious honor of highest payroll this year goes to the Red Sox, who have no intentions of being pushed around in the playoffs again. Chris Sale is an early Cy Young favorite. Let’s see how his numbers hold up playing those Yankees multiple times over the next few months. They are outspending the next closest team by $20 million. Sidenote: The second highest payroll isn’t who you think it is…It’s the Giants, in an attempt to catch the Dodgers in the NL West, they won’t break .500 this year. Not exactly money well spent…
The Dodgers look the same as always. Overpaid (albeit slightly less so this season) and one step away. Is this the year? Probably not.
The Cubs are no longer a punchline, nor are the Indians. The Nationals will contend again.
Fans of these teams can dig in, and prepare to defend early season slumps as growing pains… The grind is on for the playoffs.
For other fans it means a slow, gradual souring on their team’s chances to make it to the postseason.
Just kidding. Just kidding. A few more teams stand a chance to make it to the postseason.
The Orioles like their guys, but I don’t like their chances in the long run. They’ll start fast, as always, but we know how that movie ends.
The Cardinals look like a young team that can contend, but do they have the bullpen to go the distance? (Insert shrugging emoji here)
The Brewers are exciting to watch, but their starting rotation isn’t the stuff of legends, especially with their hottest arm Jimmy Nelson off the mound until the All-Star break. They’ll try to stay close. Who knows.
Fans in Pittsburgh, Miami, Anaheim, Tampa and Detroit…everywhere else…It’s probably going to be a long season. So pace yourself when those three-game win streaks get broken.
Anything can happen.
It’s Opening Day.
Hope springs eternal, as they say.