Monday, April 16, 2012

Major League Baseball (MLB) 2012: A New Season & Thoughts on American League (AL) Teams

By: Evan Troxel

So as National Football League (NFL) fans await the word on the results and consequences of the “bounty” program by the New Orleans Saints, perhaps “bounty” programs by other teams, and what will happen in the upcoming NFL Draft, I decided to write about the start of the Major League Baseball (MLB) Regular Season for this article and what has happened in MLB since the final out of last year’s World Series.

Well to really get going here, on Wednesday, April 4th, 2012, the St. Louis Cardinals (the away team) defeated the Miami Marlins (the home team) 4-1.  I was a little upset that the Cardinals won the World Series in 2011, but I’m glad the Cardinals beat the Marlins to kick off the MLB Regular Season.  In the offseason, the Marlins changed their name from the Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins, changed their uniform colors (which I dislike a lot more than their uniforms from 2011), and starting this season will play in a new ballpark called, “Marlins Park.”

I don’t like the fact that the Marlins had to change their first name from Florida to Miami.  I guess that’s okay though because there is another MLB team from Florida and they are the Tampa Bay Rays (we’ll get to and I’ll talk about the Rays in a few minutes).  I dislike the Miami Marlins new uniforms because they are trying to put Hispanic colors into them and Miami and Florida are part of the U.S.A.  I will admit though that there are too many MLB Teams who have the colors of Red, White, and Blue. 

I really don’t like the Marlins colors of that pitch black color from Hell and that odd, not very vibrant, and not very bright orange color but more of a dark orange color.  If I had to pick a color(s) to add to the Marlins uniforms it would be bright green, a bright blue, and/or a dark blue.  In summation, the Marlins uniforms are one of the worst (and perhaps the ugliest) uniforms I have ever seen (in any sport at any level).

If I could have made Marlins Park, I would have wanted more seating than there is (in general).  Less seating must have been due to the fact that Miami people insist on more comforts at the ballpark to attend games and Miami people like to enjoy the nice weather outside so as a result, they aren’t interested in attending every home game so less seating makes sense and it saves the Marlins a lot of money.

On Thursday, April 5th, 2012, the Toronto Blue Jays came from behind to beat the home team (the Cleveland Indians) 7-4 in 16 innings.  That game was the longest by innings in the history of MLB on Opening Day.  That game lasted 5 hours and 14 minutes.  The Blue Jays were trailing 4-1 heading into the top of the ninth inning, with 0 Outs, and with baserunners on first and third, Blue Jays star player Jose Bautista hit a sacrifice fly to center field.  As a result, the runner on third base Yunel Escobar scored to make the score 4-2 and the runner on first Kelly Johnson was able to advance to second.  Then, Adam Lind walked and then Rajai Davis pinch ran for him.  Edwin Encarnacion (a right-handed batter) then clubbed the baseball to left field and almost got all of what he hit but the ball hit off the lower part of the wall and stayed in the playing area and he ended up getting a double and Kelly Johnson and Rajai Davis scored on the play to tie the game at 4 apiece. 

Then in the top of the 16th inning right handed Blue Jays batter J.P. Arencibia hit a three-run homer to the left field bleachers and the Blue Jays won the game after the bottom of the 16th inning 7-4.  What is ironic is that the next game both the Indians and Blue Jays played was on Saturday, April 7th, 2012 and the final score again was 7-4, the Blue Jays won again, and the game went into extra innings but this time they only had to play 12 innings.

On April 7th, 2012, I was glad to be informed that the Los Angeles Dodger beat the San Diego Padres 6-5 in 11 innings.  I really liked being informed that the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 in 10 innings and in walk-off fashion.  I really dislike the Phillies and they were overrated all of last season post Buster Posey’s season ending injury and he is a catcher for the San Francisco Giants.  On April 8th, 2012, I was sad to see that the Boston Red Sox lost to the Detroit Tigers 13-12 in 11 innings.  If I’m not mistaken, that was the seventh time in Red Sox history that they scored 12 runs and still lost the game.

Now I am going to briefly talk about each team in the American League.  I will talk about each team in the National League in a future article.  Let’s start with the American League (AL) East.  The Baltimore Orioles look to be contenders this season after that thrilling victory over the Boston Red Sox on the last day of the Regular Season last year or at least spoilers again.  The Red Sox look to make the Postseason this October after losing to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2009 in the American League Division Series and not making the Postseason in 2010 or 2011.  I’d like to see the Red Sox win at least 100 games this year. 

The New York Yankees better not make the playoffs this season and it will be interesting to see if they are in the mix to land a playoff spot come late September/early October considering five teams from each League can now make the playoffs this season.  The Toronto Blue Jays look to be serious contenders this year based on what I learned from the game I talked about earlier in this article on April 5th. 

I haven’t liked the Tampa Bay Rays too much since they beat the Boston Red Sox in the 2008 American League Championship Series and they have definitely been the spoilers of MLB in recent seasons.  I’m willing to go so far as to say I almost dislike them more than the Yankees.  The Rays colors on their uniforms are just fine but they need to get this whole naming thing figured out.  If you want the naming to be more accurate one should say Tampa instead of Tampa Bay.  The Tampa Bay Rays actually play their games in St. Petersburg!  Also, before 2008 the Rays were called the Devil Rays instead.  I just don’t understand why the word “Devil” needed to be in front of the word “Rays.”  If people would use some sense the Rays should be called the “St. Petersburg Rays.”  I guess the Rays can still be called the Tampa Bay Rays if there’s no room to build a stadium in Tampa.

In the AL Central, the Chicago White Sox have a home run hitter in Adam Dunn but he strikes out a lot and he doesn’t help the team out at all really except hit home runs.  The Cleveland Indians had a great month and a half to the start of last season, but this season the message is really the same…end the current second longest World Series Championship drought.  The Detroit Tigers added former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder which should help them win more games, but I’m looking forward to watching pitcher Justin Verlander do his thing this season like he did last year (except against my favorite team of course…the Boston Red Sox). 

The Kansas City Royals have been projected by some baseball sportswriters to finish second in the AL Central this season but I just don’t see how that will happen.  The Minnesota Twins haven’t been relevant at all since they won a playoff series in 2002, they definitely haven’t been relevant since they got rid of Doug Mientkiewicz when he went to the Red Sox at mid-season in 2004.  I got a feeling Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is going to hear the words, “You’re fired!” from his boss at or before the end of this season.

In the AL West, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim added some nice additions this offseason in Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson and it makes them a lot more relevant to be contending for at least a playoff spot as opposed to last season.  The Oakland Athletics I think are going to be the surprise of MLB this year with their young talent and their nice additions they made this offseason in Seth Smith, Josh Reddick, Jonny Gomes, Yoenis Cespedes, and Bartolo Colon.  The Seattle Mariners have been so quiet since 2001 they would be better off competing against Minor Leaguers and they will be louder if Ichiro can get 200 hits again this season (like he didn’t last season). 

In my opinion, Yu Darvish might be the only reason the Texas Rangers don’t get back to the World Series this year and if they do they probably won’t win it (they will probably get swept).  The Rangers may be competitive but I don’t see them making a return trip to the World Series with Yu Darvish on their team considering all that money they gave him and how greedy they were about wanting (and eventually getting) him.  My only advice to the Rangers is, wear your red uniforms for the entire World Series if you make it to the World Series.

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