2011 might have been the best season in baseball ever thus far; however, it won’t come close to the 2012 season that is approaching. 2011 recap: Cardinals and Rays surge into the postseason. The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series despite being a strike away from going home, twice. Albert Pujols bought a ten year ticket to the city of Angels, Prince Fielder is moving across lake Michigan, CJ Wilson wants to be team mates with arguably the best player of the 21st century thus far… and that’s only part of it.
Clayton Kershaw showed everyone why he deserved to be picked ahead of Tim Lincecum (check out this amazing ESPN article about their four matchups-http://es.pn/GEpNAh) and took home the NL Cy Young. Justin Verlander showed us once again why he should be referred to as the most consistant and most reliable starter in the big leagues. Ryan Braun showed us the importance of having a good hitter behind you, still doesn’t mean he should have won the NL MVP. And Matt Kemp showed us why one horrible season doesn’t mean you can’t turn into the best player in baseball.
Anyway, that’s what happened last year. Now here are ten things to look forward to in 2012 that will show the entire sports universe why baseball is better than ever.
1. Magic Johnson is the new face of the Dodgers. Stan Kasten is the baseball face of the Dodgers. McCourt is gone. Can you imagine getting a call like this, “Hello this is Magic Johnson. I would like you to come play for the Dodgers.” How could you say no to that!? Well anyway, it will be interesting to see how this deal turns out in the long run.
2. Albert Pujols is in LA… with CJ Wilson. The Angels were truly the dark horse this offseason. It seems like every year the Angels are picked to sign one of the big free agents, i.e. Carl Crawford in 2010, and never follow through. This year, unlike the past few, they actually delivered. Just like when the Red Sox got Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford last year, the Angels are now consistently being referred to as the most likely World Series champion next year. However, you red it here first, it won’t be them.
3. Mike Napoli, Brandon Phillips, Erick Aybar, Josh Hamilton, BJ Upton, Shane Victorino, Andre Ethier, Ichiro Suzuki, Joe Blanton, Matt Cain, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Colby Lewis, Shaun Marcum, Dice-K, Jonathan Sanchez, Brandon League, Mariano Rivera, Jose Valverde are all free agents next year. Now that’s one ridiculous offseason in the making.
4. The All-Star game heads to KC, and with that, so does the media. Kansas City this year will be home to some of the most exciting prospects that have hit the bigs on one team, at the same time, in the last five years. The last time so many journalists and baseball fans payed attention to one team’s group of promising youngsters was when James Loney, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Jonathan Broxton, Russell Martin, and Chad Billingsley were making their debuts in LA. Kansas City, get ready.
5. Yu Darvish. He is exciting, young, tall, and good. Not only that, but he will be replacing CJ Wilson as the Rangers ace after Wilson decided to sign with the Rangers rivals. Look no farther than the AL West to see one of the most exciting pitching rivalries and rivalries in general this season.
6. Atlanta, GA. Chipper Jones’ last season in the big leagues. Despite the recent trend that has been sweeping across America of coming back after retiring, i.e. Brett Favre, Manny Ramirez, Andy Pettite, etc. I do infact think that this will be Chipper Jones’ last year in the big leagues. As a result, this will be the last season for one of the games most exciting, down to earth, switch hitters.
7. Hey Boston, will you be my Valentine? After last year’s season ending disaster, this year in Boston will be very interesting. Will Bobby Valentine be as good as his former co-workers on Baseball Tonight believe he will be? Will he be able to control one of the toughest and high profile clubhouses in baseball? Who knows…
8. The trade deadline… with two more playoff spots being added to the postseason this year, it means that at least two more teams will be active at the trade deadline. Also, with the deep free agent class that will be greeting us with a friendly smile in November, it means that many teams will be wheeling and dealing players come late July.
9. Two Wild Cards. Remember the dramatic “win or go home” game two years ago between the Twins and the Tigers? Imagine two of those games, every year. Baseball just got ten times more exciting this year because of the addition of two more wildcards.
10. After what happened at the end of last season, any team can truly win the World Series this year. Let’s be honest, nobody can easily predict who will win the World Series this year because more than ever before, there is truly a competitive balance in baseball this year. Now I know you could say the complete opposite after what happened this offseason. However, Pujols and Wilson signed with a team that didn’t make it to the playoffs last season. The Cardinals, got worse. The Dodgers have two of the ten best players and baseball, and now a new owner. The Yankees are the Yankees. The Rays have ridiculous pitching depth. The list goes on, any team can win it this year… seriously.
Are you ready? The Mariners are seeing as they are now the best team and baseball!