Baseball is Back… with a twist.
By Kyle Titus, Concessions Assistant
Can you feel it? It’s right around the corner. The temperatures are climbing, the date is getting closer and spring training is already under way. Right around the corner will be opening day, with a new twist. Instead of the regular 8 teams that make the post season, Major League Baseball has approved the new 10 team, 2 team wild card format. That is not the only thing that will be different this season. There are many icons of the game that have changed their zip code. The biggest one of course is Albert Pujols who took his talents to the west coast. Pujols a two time World Series champion and arguably the best player in the game, in a shocking and stunning move, spurned the Cardinals and went West to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for greener ($$$) pastures. He is not the only big name slugger to have moved. The other would be Prince Fielder who is now with the Detroit Tigers. Prince chose the team his dad once played for and in a continental shift of power two of the biggest bats in the game now have teamed up with the American League and left the National League with an identity crisis.
Not all is lost though; the Cardinals and Brewers still hold two powerful teams that will keep people guessing. The 10 year $254 million dollar contract Pujols signed while devastating the Cardinals fans and organization in the long run is just too much money and year to give to a 31 year old first baseman for a Midwest smaller market team. In fact I would put my money on the Cardinals actually winning more games this season with a healthy Adam Wainwright coming back into the fold and some of the production Pujols gave being replaced by former all-star Carlos Beltran. The Brewers on the other hand have known all along they would not be able to bring Fielder back, but still have one of the strongest and deepest starting rotations in all of baseball as well as last year’s MVP Ryan Braun still wearing the blue and gold. However the shift in power will be great when you have two of the game’s biggest sluggers changing leagues entirely. There will be new names and faces garnishing attention in the National League. There will be a dog fight in the American League as to who truly is the biggest slugger and seeing if all the money thrown at these big dogs was truly is worth it. The Phillies are the only team in the National League who has the payroll to compete financially with the American League power house, but has been shown now over the last decade money doesn’t always bring championships so this year should be fun to watch regardless.
The new playoff format this year should make things really interesting especially heading down to the playoff hunt. With the added 5th team this now makes winning the division a premium. Instead of going straight into a 5 game series, the wild card winners will now face off in a 1 game playoff. This makes that stretch run even more important as to having your “ace” on the mound for that one game set. Following that the wild card team will then go on to face the team with the best record in their respective league. This makes the path for a wild card team to win it all much more unpredictable. I don’t know how you could possibly add more drama or excitement then last year’s Cardinals who made a remarkable comeback to win it all and with the best game possibly in baseball history taking place in that game 6 of the World Series but baseball sure is going to try!
With all that said the game as we know it will still be the same, however seemingly different down the stretch. There will be new stars and names mentioned, there will be new teams and the trade deadline should be all that more interesting with more teams still considered in the “hunt” then ever before. All I know is baseball is back and this will be a season worth watching.
Kyle is beginning his first season as a Concessions Assistant with the Hickory Crawdads. He was born and raised in Binghamton, NY and graduated from SUNY Cortland with a degree in sports management. Kyle has worked previously with the Hagerstown Suns also of the South Atlantic League and the Oklahoma City Barons, an AHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers, doing group sales. Kyle enjoys playing baseball, basketball and cheering on his St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Dolphins.