I recently got bitten by the baseball bug once again after I slipped away from it in the last few years. I used to be a huge Red Sox fan and watched as many games as I could on MLB.tv as well as on TV when Channel 5 used to show live games.
Now I’ve rediscovered my love of the game, I’m more open to liking practically every team and every player, in a similar way to how I follow the NBA, but in this case a lot more closely.
I have a particular fondness for teams like the Texas Rangers, who couldn’t quite win the world series this year in their second straight berth. It was a tough loss but in the end the Cardinals earned the win in game 7. I’m rooting for them to get back there for a third straight year next year and finally get the championship they deserve.
Unfortunately, one of my favourite pitchers, C.J. Wilson will not be a part of it if they do make it back there. He shares many things with me it seems: interests like racing, cycling, and pitching of course combined with having the same first and middle names as me. I started thinking why don’t I call myself C.J. but I don’t think you can get away with it unless you’re a famous sportsman most of the time. He’s also straight edge, something I also consider myself to be, although I wouldn’t label myself in exactly that way.
C.J. is instead on his way back home to Anaheim near where he grew up in Newport Beach to play for the Angels. Until he and the hall of famer to be, Albert Pujols signed in Anaheim, I kind of dismissed the team as not a contender and a team I didn’t really pay much attention to. Now, they’ve changed everything with these two signings. They will surely have one of if not the best rotation in baseball with 4 very strong starters, and with Albert in the line-up, the offence immediately will command a great deal more respect from the rest of the league, and will be a terrifying prospect for opposing pitchers.
It’s a shame that C.J. will have to compete year long with his former long time team due to them both being in the same division. They’ve always been fierce rivals for the AL East division and the rivalry will likely be even hotter in 2012. It has become such a strong team that next year we may see no team from the AL East make the playoffs if one of these two teams can take the wildcard spot away from them. That’s assuming the new rule adding two extra wildcards doesn’t come in next year, which I’m not sure about.
The other team that’s made a huge splash in the winter meetings is the Miami Marlins. Newly renamed, re-branded and with a new stadium launch imminent, are looking to assert themselves as a contender in the NL East to rival the Phillies. The Mets don’t look particularly strong for 2012 and the Braves and Nationals could surprise people but you would have to think that it’s going to be Philadelphia’s to lose at this point. Their signing of Jonathan Papelbon to close for them was a very good one. It showed tremendous commitment to winning to poach possibly the top closer on the free agent market from his long time home.
The Marlins have brought in some fantastic talent, NL batting champion Jose Reyes from the Mets, veteran closer Heath Bell from the Padres, and one of my favourite pitchers, Mark Buerhle from the White Sox. These guys will all contribute massively to the success of the re-branded team and it’s going to be an exciting team to watch, but I don’t know if they’ve added enough to be true contenders yet. If they were able to sign Prince Fielder or the incredibly exciting Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish then of course that would be another fantastic bonus for them, but even then I’m not sure. Their success next year may end up hinging on whether or not their current players can step up and assist their new free-agent signings because 3 or 4 guys can’t make all the difference on their own, they need a lot of back-up to make it work.
Speaking of Darvish, I can’t wait to see which team has earned the right to negotiate with the Japanese star and I’m hopeful it’s either the Rangers or Marlins.
I can’t wait to see what other signings and trades will take place between now and spring training, and the 2012 season promises to be a great one.