BREAKING NEWS: We are officially in our last week without baseball until November. I am feeling warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about the sound of baseball bats smacking homeruns…
2016 is going to be a super awesome season, I can already tell. There have been so many unbelievable surprises in the the off-season (Zack Greinke to AZ?! David Price to the Red Sox?! The Cubbies signing EVERYONE?!) that I can just tell 2016 is going to be a year of baseball to remember.
Let’s take a look at some of the story-lines I will be closely following:
What will Rob Manfred do about the Domestic Violence offenders?
With Aroldis Chapman, Jose Reyes, and Yasiel Puig in trouble over some serious domestic violence allegations, second-year commissioner Rob Manfred has quite a task ahead of him. After watching the NFL royally botch the punishments of several players accused of DV, you can bet Manfred has no intentions of following their model. So, several key questions come up: How long will the punishments be? Will they be with or without pay? When will Manfred announce his decision? He said he was going to announce suspensions before the season, so I would expect it to come down any day now, especially with Spring Training starting next week. I am so opposed to DV that I don’t really think you should be playing the game if you lay hands on a woman, but I’m not the commish. I have no idea what he will do, but I hope his punishment is lengthy and sets a precedent.
How will the NL West shape up?
This division had the craziest off-season of any division in baseball and it will be SO FUN to watch the Diamondbacks, Giants, and Dodgers duke it out all season. AZ improved leaps and bounds, but so did San Fran. The Dodgers are still favored to win the division, but even if they do, it will be a hard-fought title. But really, no one can get their hopes up because it’s an even year. That means the Giants will win the World Series, much to the chagrin of literally everyone who doesn’t live in the Bay Area.
Can the Cubs finally de-throne the Cardinals in the NL Central?
After stealing the off-season with some incredible signings, the Cubbies look poised to over-take the Central Division. Sadly, my dream of them fulfilling the Back to the Future prediction of “Cubs Win 2015 World Series” was crushed by the Mets. But, could 2016 be their year? Maybe the prediction should have been “Cubs win 2016 World Series”. I mean, what does Marty McFly know anyway? Not that he had any say in them winning, since he was in 1985, but whatever. Let me have my Back to the Future nerd-out moments! Sigh. I’m just gonna make like a tree and get outta here…
Will Bae-Rod still produce like he did last year?
If Alex Rodriguez’s workout videos are any indication, the man looks ready to mash. The man is also 40, so his health will determine his mashing abilities. As a Yankees fan, I can only hope that he treats baseballs like he treats potatoes. And by that I mean I hope he mashes them. Get it? Mashed potatoes? Mashing baseballs? Get it? Get it?! Regardless of his baseball/potato mashing abilities, the Yanks need him to be productive again this year. Actually, they need all of their old farts to be productive this year.
How sucky will the AL West teams who aren’t in Texas be?
Frankly, I’m not worried about the Astros or the Rangers because they will probably have good seasons. I am, however, wondering just how good the Angels, Mariners, and A’s will be. The A’s were a basic dumpster fire last year and they didn’t do much to improve. The Angels are hosed because Mike Trout can’t play all nine positions at once. To be honest, the Mariners are probably the best of the bunch and could win the division if they live up to expectations. But I also said that last year, so what do I know?
The Mets spent like the Yankees this off-season, but will they be better than the Yankees in 2016?
Please, God, no. Please no. I am not emotionally prepared to have the Mets be better than the Yankees two years in a row. It can’t happen. *whispers* I think it will happen *sobs*
Will players be able to plow into each other at 2nd this year?
Yes, it’s always been frowned upon, but after watching Chase Utley break Ruben Tejada’s fibula last season, you just knew things were gonna change. MLB has a new rule that is set to be implemented in 2016, but will it work? I hope so, mostly because I don’t want to see any more bones broken when it could be avoided. Breaking up a play is one thing, maliciously plowing into the second baseman is a whole other story.
Will the Nationals fall below expectations again? WILL BRYCE HARPER GET CHOKED OUT AGAIN?
These are both very important questions. I will say no, they won’t suck again, and it’s possible Harper gets choked out. I doubt it, but it’s possible. While we are at it, who will be worse in the NL East this year: the Phillies or the Marlins? Who wants to take bets?
Which teams will surprise us this year?
No clue, but I can’t wait to find out!
There are SO many more things I am excited to see unfold this year, but these are the big points that I am following a little more closely. I can’t wait for Spring Training to start next week. It’s been a long, hard winter without baseball. I need it to come back. I need a good excuse to wear my swag to work every day, whether my boss likes it or not. I need you, baseball.