Category: MLB

By: Martin Rand, III
Date: April 3, 2012

Heavy rains are frequent, flowers are getting ready to bloom and pollen is covering everything everywhere. This can only mean one thing: spring is in full effect; and, with spring comes the start of the MLB season.

Jose Reyes is one of the main reasons all eyes will be on Miami this season.

The first pitch of the 2012 season is set to be thrown tomorrow, and with that pitch, teams will get all their questions answered. Was this player the right guy to add to the ball-club? Should we have hired that other coach? Did we do enough to win it all? Questions like these and any other executive decisions will be answered in due time.

However, I have my own questions that I can’t wait to be answered about this upcoming season. Even though I’m a die-hard New York Yankee fan, I’m also a fan of the game; and, this season, I have other topics I’m going to follow alongside New York.

Here are three storylines everyone will be talking about throughout the 2012 MLB Season:

  1. Can the Miami Marlins live up to expectations?
  2. This past off-season was huge for the Marlins. Not only did they get the brand-new stadium they’ve been trying to get for the last couple of years, they also got the star power to bring people to the stadium. Jose Reyes led the National League (NL) in batting average in 2011 and was the best free agent on the market. Mark Buehrle is an All-Star, Gold Glove, World Series (WS) winning starting pitching, who can bring leadership and a winning attitude to a franchise that desperately needs it. Heath Bell has been one of the best Closers in the game, winning the Rolaids Relief Award two out of the past three years.

    So, now that you have one of the best hitters in the game, a starting pitching to lead your rotation, a closer who can come in and seal a win for you at the end of the game, new uniforms and the new stadium, what are you going to do with them Marlins? No doubt, receiving all these riches, in a limited amount of time, comes with a win now mentality or else it would all seem pointless. The heat will definitely be on the Miami this season (where have I heard that before?).

  3. Can Albert Pujols thrive under the bright lights of L.A.?
  4. After ten years of service, nine All-Star appearances, three NL MVPs, two WS titles and multitude of batting awards, Pujols left his nest with St. Louis Cardinals to sign a ten-year $240 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Pujols has consistently played well his entire career, so the St. Louis media never picked on him. Even when he went through slumps and it seemed like he was over the hill, they stuck by him, waited it out and eventually he turned it on and started hitting like he usually does; but, will he be able to still play that way with a huge L.A. media judging his every move?

    L.A. is not going to coddle him like St. Louis. How is Pujols going to handle all the media attention when he goes through his slumps? What if the Angels don’t win at a high rate and the media starts questioning his contract? Or, what about when he commits a fashion faux pas on Rodeo Drive? The off-the-field media can be just as, if not more distracting. I hope Pujols thought about these things before signing to a big market.

  5. Will adding an extra wildcard spot mean anything to the playoff run?
  6. This year, MLB executives decided to add an extra wild-card spot to the playoffs. You can thank the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves for this rule. They set new standards of losing last season, when they both lost division leads by the end of September after coming into the month win a substantial lead. So, to help out the teams who play in the same division as powerhouses, as they both do, they put in this rule.

    I have mixed feelings about this rule. One thing that’s different in MLB versus other sports is that only four teams from each league get in the playoffs. That’s three division winners and one wild-card team. It’s harder and a little more meaningful to get in the playoffs in MLB compared to other sports. So, I don’t like rule for that aspect; but, MLB needed to do something drastic to get different teams in the playoffs. I would’ve preferred if they took my idea on how to improve the league but we’ll see if their idea adds excitement and helps up-and-coming teams get into the playoffs.

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By: Martin Rand, III
Date: October 28, 2011

With the first game seven of the World Series in almost ten years looming, it’s easy to only focus on who’s going to win tonight. Although, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that both the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals have overcome incredible odds and should be happy with their season no matter what the outcome.

The Fall Classic has delivered on what its name states, with two teams that should be happy just to be in this position.

The Lone Rangers

The Rangers are by no means a Cinderella team. No, there Cinderella story happened last year when they made it to the WS. Not everyone, but some ESPN MLB Analysts had them reaching the WS again this year.

However, I didn’t think they would, and it wasn’t just because my New York Yankees play in the AL (although that was part of it). I felt like the Rangers were on an emotional high last year, which propelled them into the WS and they couldn’t recreate that magic a second time.

Last year, there were talks of the Rangers almost going out of business because the the owners couldn’t find anyone to buy the team. The MLB had to take over the baseball operations of the team just to keep the sinking ship a float.

There was also a lot of controversy around the team. It was revealed that Manager Ron Washington had been using cocaine the season prior and their best player, Josh Hamilton, had also struggled with drugs and alcohol.

The Rangers were done.

Then, last July, against all odds and speculation, the Rangers caught the biggest fish on the trade market, Cliff Lee. A month later, Nolan Ryan, a former pitcher for the Rangers, bought the team. So, in a month’s time, they got a ace pitcher and an owner. All this emotional satisfaction propelled them to the WS last year.

What did they have this year? They lost Lee to free agency, Hamilton has been hampered with a strained left groin and possible sports hernia for the last month and they had no emotional boost at the end of the season to get them over the hump of a long season.

No. All they had was a great manager who made the right moves at the right moments, a great owner who filled the hole left by Lee and a great team that stepped up when their best player was injured.

From a team on the brink of nonexistence, with a player addicted to drugs and alcohol and a manager using cocaine, to back-to-back AL Champions and possible world champions is remarkable.

The Early Bird Doesn’t Always Get The Worm

The Cardinals are the Cinderella team this year. They didn’t have all the issues the Rangers had, but they shouldn’t had even made the playoffs let alone get to game seven of the WS; and what they did to make the playoffs broke MLB records.

At the beginning of September, the Cardinals were over 10 games back in the wild-card race to the Atlanta Braves. It was looking like their season was over.

I thought it was over as well. Throughout September, I kept seeing commercials telling people to buy their post-season tickets now because the Braves were going to be playing in October. There was no point in paying attention to the wild-card race anymore, so I didn’t.

Then, with a week left in the season, all of a sudden, the Cardinals were only a few games behind the Braves. By the end of the week, the Cardinals were the NL wild-card team and the Braves were left to wonder, “What the heck happened?”

What happened was a team plagued with injuries all year finally got all their pieces back at the right time and made everything click. They won 23 of their last 31 games and proved it’s not how a team starts the season but how it ends it.

All They Did Was Win

I know, in the world of sports, moral victories aren’t often praised because it’s all about winning. Yes, these two teams won the games they needed to get to this point, but the adversity they overcame to get here was half the battle. The character they’ve shown shouldn’t be overlooked just because one of them won’t wave a banner next season.

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