Time for the First Pitch

0331-us-sports-openingday_full_600It’s Opening Day!

Well, kind of. I guess last night was. But actually, wasn’t last week Opening Day when the Dodgers and D’backs played in Australia? And the Dodgers played last night too. They’ve played three games already. Kind of seems like the 2014 baseball season has already started.

Ah, details!

Baseball starts today- fresh green grass, fresh strips of eye black, fresh cash in Miguel Cabrera’s over-stuffed wallet.

So let’s get to it. Here’s twenty random thoughts about baseball as we wait for the games to start.

1. I don’t think the Red Sox will repeat as champs, but I also don’t think it’s crazy to think that sure, maybe they will.

2. I’ll save you the time, the majority of baseball talking heads and writers are once again picking the Tampa Bay Rays to win the World Series. This is about as surprising as Putin not being satisfied with just nabbing him some Crimea. But here’s a fun fact, let’s look at the Rays’ past couple seasons, all seasons in which they were a favorite to win the World Series…

2013: 92 wins, 71 losses. Finished 2nd in AL East and lost in LDS.
2012: 90 wins, 72 losses. Finished 3rd in AL East. Missed the playoffs.
2011: 91 wins, 71 losses. Finished 2nd in AL East and lost in LDS.
2010: 96 wins, 66 losses. Won AL East, lost in LDS.
2009: 84 wins, 78 losses. Finished 3rd in AL East. Missed playoffs.
2008: 97 wins, 65 losses. Won AL East, lost in World Series to the Phillies.

At what point do we put a different label on Joe Madden and the Rays? Instead of plucky, young upstarts, how about chronic underachievers? I’ll be the first one to admit that I hate the Rays, but facts are facts. It seems like if this were any other team, like say, maybe the Texas Rangers, they’d be getting hammered. But not the Rays and not Madden. I don’t know what Teflon is, but this seems to be one of those times when people say they are made of Teflon, because criticism slides right off of them. Yeah, I think the Rays will be good this year. I think they’ll be good again. But no, I don’t see them winning the World Series.

3. And for that matter, I don’t really see the Nationals winning. The Nationals are another trendy pick to win it all in 2014. I just don’t see it happening.

4. When it comes to the National League, why wouldn’t you just pick the Cardinals to win it all? It’s like picking the Spurs in the NBA or Michigan State in March Madness- a safe bet.

5. And speaking of “why wouldn’t you’s?” – why the hell wouldn’t you want your son playing baseball? Guaranteed money yo.

6. The Yankees will be better than last year, but will still miss the playoffs.

7. Props to Derek Jeter. When he leaves, there will no longer be any Yankee I’d be comfortable rooting for. I’m cool with that.

8. Stairs and Yaisel Puig are the most surefire ways to make a baseball writer look old. And white.

9. I hope Cliff Lee enjoyed his time in Philly. Dude is gone by the trade deadline. Giants maybe?

10. I’ve been lucky enough to see games at a few baseball stadiums. It’s always fun.

Here are my top five favorite parks:

5. Nationals Park, Washington D.C. Saw a the Nats play the Mets. Cheered for the umps.

WAS_80810873_580

4. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia. Home away from home during my time in Philly. Favorite game I saw there: when they clinched the division in 2011.

citizens-bank-park

3. Petco Park, San Diego. Saw the Padres play the Rockies. Admired the view, drank the beer.

Petco-Park-05

2. Camden Yards, Baltimore. Went for an Orioles/Yankees game. Way too many Yankees’ fans in attendance.

061308 - Camden Yards view of the field from Section 39

1. Fenway Park, Boston. No way Mecca would ever finish in second place.

Fenway_from_Legend's_Box

Honorable Mention: Yankee Stadium (old.) Props to history.

11. My least favorite stadium? That’s easy. Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

299_dumpsterHome of the Rays, ugly ass building, ate a burrito and got food poisoning.

12. I’d be cool with a Tigers/Dodgers World Series.

13. Actually, I’d be cool with a World Series involving any of these teams: Red Sox, Cardinals, Tigers, Dodgers, Giants and Phillies.

14. I kind of enjoy the sorry state of the Angels.

15. Will Mike Trout be baseball’s first $400 million dollar man?

16. No one let Frank Underwood throw out a first pitch.


17. Viva la Xander Bogarts!

18. I kind of feel we should all chip in a couple bucks for the A’s to get a new stadium. It’s the decent thing to do.

19. Three random predictions:
Prediction 1: ARod gets busted for drunk driving sometime this summer.
Prediction 2: Bryce Harper literally runs through a wall.
Prediction 3: Jim Leyland forms a blues band.

20. Hey, whatever happened to Robinson Cano? – is a headline on ESPN.com in mid-August.

 

 

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