Baseball is Back
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Baseball fans across the globe this weekend are celebrating the opening of the 2014 Major League Season.
Monday was the first game for most Major League Baseball teams, including the San Francisco Giants, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the defending champions of the AL West: the Oakland A’s.
But baseball already has already been underway for clubs like the San Diego Padres, who defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3–1, on Sunday night in San Diego. The loss drops the Dodgers to 2–1.
The 2014 baseball season officially opened last weekend in Sydney, Australia, with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks serving as ambassadors for the big-league game — the Dodgers winning twice.
As Ted Berg of USA Today noted, “The series (in Australia) made the schedule a little awkward — there were two games in the books a week before the season starts in earnest — but it represents a reasonable effort to globalize the game.”
This week however, all 32 Major League Teams will compete in their firsts contests of the season, marking the beginning of seven months of baseball before one team hoists a World Series trophy.
As the 2013 Boston Red Sox proved to us, even last place teams have a chance when the season starts anew. As of now, paid analysts well versed in the art of baseball, and bandwagon fans alike, are beginning to make predictions for the 2014 season.
In the AL East, the Rays, given key offseason acquisitions, are predicted to take the division, winning 90 plus games this season. Others predict that the Boston Red Sox will come out on top, returning to the playoffs and making a deep run in October.
Most believe that the Tigers will claim the AL Central title for the third straight year, with the Royals of Kansas City right behind. The Tigers, under veteran skipper Jim Leyland, have been able to retain a number of core players including third baseman Miguel Cabrera and starting-ace Justin Verlander who are set to stand out seasons once again.
In the AL West, experts have predicted that the Oakland A’s will edge the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels to claim their division title for a third time in a row, winning just under 90 games. The Royals, Angels and Red Sox are set to compete for two wild card slots which will face off in a one-game playoff to seal a spot in the 2014 playoffs.
In the National League East, the Nationals of Washington DC are predicted to take the title with a win count just around 95.
Experts however, have also considered the possibility of Atlanta’s return to the playoff stage given their power at the plate with veterans like Justin Upton and Jason Heyward.
In the Central division of the National League, the Saint Louis Cardinals are set to claim the title and hopefully make a deep run in the playoffs for the fourth straight year. Right behind them, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds have proven their ability to win ball games in past few seasons.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are set to oust the San Francisco Giants for the division title in the NL West. Experts have predicted that the boys in blue will have a season to remember, winning 90 plus ball games. The Giants, Braves, Reds and Pirates are all expected to make a run in the NL Wild Card race.
For baseball fans, Opening Day is a holiday. As Erik Brady of USA Today wrote, “Ballparks are our miniature gardens of Eden, plots of green carved into city streets.”
Regardless of how miserable the winter may be, Opening Day means that summer breezes, hot dogs and sunburns are in the long-range forecast. Baseball is our only major team sport not ruled by a clock, but you can set your calendar by it. Baseball is our American pastime. Play ball.