My annual Pitchers & Catchers Report to Spring Training missive is a knuckleball this year. Slow and likely off the mark. Even if I'd made my (self-imposed) 2/21 deadline, I fear it would've felt late. Seems like everybody's arriving earlier every season. Faburary 21 used to just be for the battery. Position players wouldn't stroll into Arizona and Florida 'til March. But the pics from Spring Training showed pretty full squads in Feburary. Weird.
I guess professional ballplayers have nothing else to do anymore. It wasn't that long ago that baseball players that had other jobs/commitments in the offseason. When I was born in '71, Yastrzemski was the highest paid baseball player in the world at $167,000. That's a lot of money, but I presume most players made considerably less. By 1980, Ryan cracked $1M. At the end of that dumb decade, Hershiser was making close to $3M. A-rod has been the highest paid player since 2000. The Yanks pay him $30M a year. Staggering.
But let's not start the season lamenting baseball's bloat (the Boston Globe is doing a fine job at that). Instead, let's examine everything new and shiny and hopeful...
First, Cueto. If he hadn't hurt himself in the first game of the 2010 series, the Giants never get past the Reds. So he's already contributed to a Giants title. Thanks, Johnny.
Second, the Bosox did what they needed to do: fire the GM that gave Fat Panda a paycheck. The new guy is still throwing a lot of money around, but I've always liked Price.
The Giants and the Sox have two good starting pitchers that smile a lot. That's really rare... most are curmudgeons or psychopaths.
Third, The Cubs are the best team in baseball. That's awesome... but it's still just paper.
NL West: Giants - Although I do love the Dodgers new manager for stealing second.
NL East: Nationals - Should be interesting between the Mets, but Dusty knows how to manage hotheaded egoistic man-children.
NL Central: Cubs - this is the division of all divisions. Cards, Pirates... good, fierce baseball.
AL West: Astros - Texas might own the two best teams in this division... that ain't right.
AL Central: Royals - But I'm rooting for the Indians.
AL East: Red Sox - Toronto has a heap of power, Baltimore too, Yankees have what some claim might be the best relief staff in the history of baseball, Rays are squirrelly, but Boston has Mookie
NL WC: Dodgers. AL WC: Rangers. AL Champs: Boston. NL Champs: Cubs. WS: Sox v. Cubs. Just like 1918... except the Cubs win this time.
Go Rivercats (my youngest son's tee-ball team & Giants affiliate). Go Sea Dogs (once my older son's tee-ball squad & Red Sox affiliate), Go Giants. Go Red Sox. Go A's. Go Indians. Go Pacifics.