Things to Keep in Mind as Opening Day Approaches

Can Doc heal himself?

Can Doc heal himself?

Yes, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ new ownership has spent the equivalent of two small nations’ gross domestic product. (Yes, I’m exaggerating—perhaps only slightly.) But no, and I’ll say it until the day I buy the rancho, it doesn’t mean they’re a lock for a 2013 World Series ring. If you still persist in believing money talks when it comes time to nail down the ring, I suggest you have yet another look at the New York Yankees and (pre-Madoff) Mets. For openers.

Yes, Alex Anthopolous was the busiest general manager in baseball during the offseason. But no, the pennants are not won during the offseason. The Toronto Blue Jays looked pretty impressive with their wheeling, dealing, and (Miami might say abetted by Jeffrey Loria, though you can’t fleece the willing) stealing between November and February, but let’s see what happens when the Blue Jays start doing things in April—like playing baseball games.

Yes, there’s been a very different atmosphere around the Boston Red Sox this spring. Nobody has wanted to overthrow new manager John Farrell, and Farrell hasn’t alienated any of his key players. Yet. But there were those who said the 1962 Mets had one of the most chipper clubhouses in baseball, too. Including a few 1962 Mets. (“Hell,” said Richie Ashburn to Jimmy Breslin, “I’ve been on winners where people were mad at each other.”) Which means, no, the new harmony doesn’t guarantee a new trip to the postseason. Though it will be nice to write about the Red Sox again in terms not necessarily involving coup attempts, indifferent players, or owners fiddling while the manager did everything in his power to burn down what was left of the house coming out of September 2011.

Yes, the Houston Astros—you know: the team named later to complete the deal that made a National League team out of the Milwaukee Brewers—have, for the past few years, the weakest fan loyalty in the game. (Never mind that the Miami Marlins’ management may compel their fans to give Astro fans a serious run for their money.) But no, you can’t blame it on the fans. How are you supposed to remain loyal to a product whose flavour has gone almost deliberately sour?

Yes, baseball government would like to turn the screws tighter and smoke out fallen Biogenesis and its mastermind Anthony Bosch. But no, trying to single out Ryan Braun—who turned up among the big enchiladas on the Biogenesis lists, but who also appealed a positive testosterone test last winter—isn’t the way to go about it. Nor is suing the defunct clinic rather than put its own investigative team to work on the wherefores and the whos.

Yes, the Chicago Cubs have entered the 116th year of their rebuilding effort. No, they’re not going to avoid the 117th year this year, though there are places where they’re looking a little bit better than the previous couple of years. They may even begin looking like contenders come year 118.

Taking Cliff Lee deep to win '10 World Series . . .

Taking Cliff Lee deep to win ’10 World Series . . .

Yes, Edgar Renteria has finally made his retirement official. And, yes, he holds a very unique position in baseball lore. It isn’t every player who’ll get to tell his grandchildren that he knocked in the World Series-winning run for one team, made the World Series-losing out (Back to Foulke! Red Sox fans have longed to hear it! The Boston Red Sox—are world champions!) that made cursebreakers of the Red Sox almost a decade later, ¬†smashed a three-run homer that proved the Series-winning (and, for himself, the Series MVP-winning) blow for the 2010 San Francisco Giants, and has a better World Series batting line (.331/.391/.508) than regular season line. But no, he won’t be elected to Cooperstown in 2017, even if a few of his Series artifacts might have ended up there, anyway.

Yes, the Yankees are going to hit the field starting Opening Day resembling baseball’s version of The Golden Girls. But no, they’re not exactly the only injury-or-age addled team going there. The Philadelphia Phillies don’t exactly look like young turks themselves. And while you can’t always go by spring, of course, it’s impossible to resist noticing that Roy Halladay suddenly looks very, very old. It may not affect his plaque in Cooperstown. But all those innings (he’s led his league in innings pitched four times, averages 234 innings per season, and averages seven innings a game through this point), plus that dramatic, shoulder-strain-abetted WAR drop from 2011 (8.5) to 2012 (0.8), suggest that Halladay may not be all that long for this pitching world. May.

Yes, the Washington Nationals are probably going to make it all the way to the postseason this year, too. But no, the National League East won’t exactly be that much of a pushover. Not with those pesky, post-Chipper Jones, Upton & Upton, Ltd. Atlanta Braves bent on making the Nats earn their party invitations.

Yes, the Arizona Diamondbacks have made themselves just about completely into the image of manager Kirk Gibson. And, no, the Snakes aren’t taking into consideration the line between hard nosed and bull headed, crossing which on numerous occasions probably cost Gibson himself a Hall of Fame plaque and probably made his terrific career a little less valuable than it should have been.

Yes, Terry Francona is giving the Cleveland Indians what looks to be a new thinking toward winning. These Indians may not be that accustomed to a manager who knows how to let players play in their best scenarios and counts on them to police their own clubhouse. (Potential feel-good story of the season: Scott Kazmir, who pitched his way out of baseball when last seen with the Angels, looking like a potential Comeback Player of the Year.) But no, it may not translate into division titles for a season or two. On the other hand, this is the manager who stepped in after 2003′s deflation and took the Red Sox all the way back to the Promised Land. So maybe saying “no” in this case isn’t exactly something you’d drop into the bank just yet.

One thought on “Things to Keep in Mind as Opening Day Approaches

  1. The Yankees are depending too much on Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells to start the season. They are next to last in MLB in home runs this spring with 20, while Mariners have hit a MLB leading 54 home runs.

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