As the madness of March basketball subsides, Opening Day signals the start of a long, monotonous baseball season. And I could not be more excited. In just seven short months, teams will be battling it out in the Fall Classic.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s catch up on some of the storylines headed into the 2013 season.
Houston Astros move to AL West
This will be the first season that the former National League Central basement dwellers compete in the American League West. The realignment evens out the two leagues with 15 teams apiece but the odd total will assure that, at all times of the year, an interleague series will be taking place.
Mike Trout & Bryce Harper’s first full seasons
Anaheim Angels center fielder, Trout, 21, and Washington Nationals right fielder, Harper, 20, will each get to enjoy their first major league opening day in 2013.
After starting 2012 in the minors, each were voted Rookie of the Year in their respective leagues, with Trout finishing second in the AL MVP vote to AL Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera.
As the pressure of high expectations sets in, we will find out if the pair is due for an encore performance or facing a potential sophomore slump.
The Yankees & Red Sox will not be as good as ESPN wants them to be
For the first time in nearly a decade, the Yanks and Sox have fallen from their ranks as perennial AL East contenders. I’m not even going to apologize to fans of those clubs, every other fan in the league is tired of hearing about your team.
The Yankees open the season without a handful of injured superstars as Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson are riding pine due to injuries. The Red Sox have to rebuild from a disappointing 69-win season a year ago.
Though each team is bound to bounce back, this might be the year that the Rays, Jays, and Orioles take over in the AL East.
Old faces in new places
While World Series champ San Francisco and runner-up Detroit will shoot for repeat success with few changes to their rosters, it was a busy offseason for others.
Former AL MVP, Josh Hamilton, is in Anaheim. Former NL Cy Young winner, Zack Greinke, is in Los Angeles. And everyone else went to Toronto.
Ok, not everyone. But starting with last year’s NL Cy Young winner, R.A. Dickey, the Blue Jays were busy, adding Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, and my boy, Mark Buehrle.
It will be interesting to see if any of these additions turn these teams into contenders.