Top 10 for '10: What I'm most looking forward to this season
You have to start somewhere. The Gregorian new year begins in Kiribati, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean that is the inhabited landmass most near, on the west side, to the international date line. For those of us who measure time by the Doubledayan calendar, the new year begins in Washington on Monday at 1:05 p.m. with a pitch from Nationals left-hander
(Yes, there is a game Sunday night, but the Yankees-Red Sox game is more of a made-for-TV event than it is a traditional Opening Day.)
It's the start of not just a new year but also a new decade. Welcome, as the Romans might have said, to MMX, though that would also happen to be the same greeting you could expect after touching down at Malmo Airport in Sweden.
A new year brings new storylines. It's much of the magic of Opening Day -- the anticipation of what is to come, like the first page of a good book or the clackety-clack slow climb of a roller coaster up the first hill. When it comes to the baseball storylines I most eagerly await this year, here are my favorites: the top 10 for '10:
Fourteen teams had losing records last year. One of them will be in the playoffs this year. How do I know this? Of the 120 playoff teams in the wild card era, 30 of them had a losing record in the previous season. That's 25 percent of your playoff teams, or an average of one turnaround team in each league each year. There has been at least one turnaround team in the playoffs every year but one in the 15 wild card seasons.
So who will be this year's surprise team? Pick one from among the Brewers, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Reds, Mets and A's.
Wait a minute. The Reds, Blue Jays, Royals and Rays are winning international bidding wars?
In the Bay Area, the Giants and A's do battle over Oakland's strategy to relocate to San Jose. In SoCal, the McCourts continue their
There is almost no chance that the Rays will re-sign Crawford, not with a 2011 payroll barely north of $50 million and with the Yankees and the Red Sox lining up to snag him (or
The darlings of the offseason now actually have to play baseball. Not since The Flying Karamazov Brothers has there been a troupe this sure-handed. But can a great defensive club win with a popgun offense and thin pitching rotation?
The pitching is heavily dependent on
And a target of critics it will be in April, May, September and, if applicable, October, when baseball will be played, when it can be at all, in miserable conditions. In this era in which sport is as much about programming as it is competition, and when stadium roof technology has been around for more than a quarter of a century, Major League Baseball should never have allowed a ballpark to be built in Minnesota without a retractable roof. Think of it as a minimum industry standard for an anticipated building lifespan of 50 years.
From 2001 through 2009, Halladay pitched to a .685 winning percentage for a team that played .466 baseball otherwise. So what kind of total might he put up while pitching for the best team in the National League, the Phillies, and freed from the grind of the DH and the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays (against whom he made 14 of his final 18 starts for Toronto)?
The Phillies are due for a big winner. They haven't had an 18-game winner since 1983, the longest such drought in baseball.
What to do with their second straight No. 1 overall pick of the draft: take 17-year-old junior college catcher
By the way, here is the list of the worst ERAs of all time by anyone who threw at least 900 innings:
1. Todd Van Poppel (1991-2004) 5.58
Van Poppel, Elarton and Bohannon all were first-round picks -- out of high school.
The number of expected minor league starts for the right-hander before he gets called up by the Nationals is 10: slightly more than
The Braves' right fielder created the most spring training buzz since
Heyward seems like a lock for 20 home runs. Not so impressed by that number? The dude is 20 years old. Only 13 players have ever hit 20 homers at or before their age 20 season, and that includes only two 20/20 Club members in the past 31 years: a couple of guys named