Okay, we’ve been talking football for months (Fake girlfriends! Ray Lewis close-up! Obnoxious fans in San Francisco!). We even talked NBA a little bit. (Brooklyn! Pelicans! Kobe’s Lakers are going to miss the playoffs!) We’ve even wondered if there was going to be a hockey season (though now that there is, everyone seems to have forgotten about it).
But let’s be honest, the beginning of the baseball season is about the only thing that has anyone feeling vaguely positive right now. Baseball season means warm weather, cookouts, summer vacation, and Thursday afternoon games on the radio at work. So with the Super Bowl behind us, let’s (finally) look at a few points of interest for the upcoming season:
How will we like having an inter-league game every day of the season?
The Astros’ move to from the National League Central to the American League West this season solves an obvious problem—the fact that no matter how good my Phillies have been the last five years, they have inexplicably not been able to beat an Astros team made up mostly of invalids and retired nuns. It also solves another problem—the fact that one division had four teams, another had six, and the remaining four all had five teams.
But it creates a weird dynamic, due to the realities of math, in which the MLB schedule will have at least one inter-league match-up every night. I enjoy inter-league play, but the novelty will certainly wear off with this arrangement. My Phillies’ home opener April 5 will be against the AL Central’s Kansas City Royals, not exactly a natural rival.
Who is this year’s Mike Trout?
Jurickson Profar of the Texas Rangers will be the Rookie of the Year after the Rangers trade away Ian Kinsler to make room for him on their Major League roster. You heard it here first. Unless you read a lot about baseball, in which case you’ve probably heard it lots of places.
Did I jinx the Nationals again?
The Washington Nationals’ 2012 season unofficially ended October 12 at 9:52pm eastern time, when they had a 6-0 lead in the decisive Game 5 of the NLDS against the Cardinals, and I texted fellow blogger and legitimate Nationals fan Jeff Waggett: “Game’s over. I’d get out of there to beat the traffic.” The Nationals season officially ended several hours later after they had coughed up the biggest elimination game hairball ever. (See how I ended the 2012 Nats season here.)
So this year, with my Phillies trotting out a lineup that looks like the “Before” photo of a Just for Men Touch of Gray commercial, I’m pretty sure that by August my main rooting interest in the NL East will be hoping that the Nationals pay for their hubris in shutting down Stephen Strasburg at the end of last season just because his agent told them to. In order to assure their demise, I placed a $10 bet at 10/1 odds on the Nationals to win the World Series when I was in Las Vegas earlier this year.
How much will each win cost the Dodgers this year?
If you tally the WAR (Wins Above Replacement) totals for all of the new Dodgers players, which ESPN did, you arrive at a projected win total of 122. Obviously, this is ridiculous, considering that the record for wins in a season is 116. So let’s say that the Dodgers will win 110 games, which is still being generous. If you divide that total into their record-setting payroll of $213 million, you can figure that the Dodgers will spend $1.9 million on each win this season. If the Dodgers only win 107 games in 2013, their cost per win breaks the $2 million mark.
Will the Astros win 42 games?
The Astros have an awesome new logo to go with their move to the American League West in 2013. And they will probably be mathematically eliminated from winning their new division by the end of July. This team has a chance to be historically bad. Their payroll is about $32 million—or roughly three times what the Yankees will pay Alex Rodriguez not to play at all this season.
With their move to the American League, they will have to practice not bunting or using any strategy at all. With their move to the AL West, which includes legitimate contenders the Rangers and the Angels, the Astros will have to practice not winning at all. The season-long question will be, Can the Astros win more than 42 games to avoid the losingest season ever?
Holy crap. That felt good.
Pitchers and catchers start reporting in less than a week. The first Spring Training game is a mere 18 days away. Baseball is coming.