What we'll be arguing about in 2010

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I’m not the biggest fan of “storylines” in the “what storylines will we be following . . .” sense. Stuff is going to happen on its own anyway, so taking too much time to frame the issues beforehand seems somewhat artificial to me.

But I’m obviously swimming against the tide here, because I’ve seen several “what to expect in 2010” stories already, so I may as well just give in and riff a bit. The bolded items are what MLB.com’s story thinks will be the big issues:

Roy Halladay vs. Cliff Lee: People will be talking it up all year, trying to figure out if the Phillies made the right “choice” between the aces. Almost everyone who talks about it, however, will neglect to mention that these were separate deals, and that if they really wanted to, the Phillies could have kept both of them and gone all-out for the pennant instead of fighting off the Braves or whoever all year.  False choice, is what I’m saying here.

See you at Target Field, and bring blankets: I’m tired of this one already. You’d think that they didn’t play outside baseball games in Minnesota for twenty freakin’ years before they built that monstrosity of a dome.  There will be some cold and icky Twins games in the early going. No more so than there will be cold and icky Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox, Cubs, Mets and Phillies games in April.

The Stephen Strasburg Show:  I think the most interesting question is about when he actually plays for the Nats. I’d be shocked if he actually broke camp with the team. You keep him down a few months so he can avoid Super Two status at least, right?  But if they do break camp with Strasburg because they think he’ll be a big draw, the big question is if the Nats will be smart and make him the second or third day starter instead of the Opening Day starter. Everyone comes to Opening Day anyway. If you’re going to use him as a gate attraction, wait pitch him on a random Wednesday against the Marlins.

Joe Girardi’s jersey:  This one is really about whether the Yankees can repeat. This sentence rocks the house: “Competitive balance is greater now than it was a decade ago, so it figures to be even harder.” Call me crazy, but I think there are some people who would disagree with that assertion.

Pujols finishes The Best Decade Ever. The article says “The Cardinals’ first
baseman enters his 10th season, and that will complete the best first
decade of Major League service by a position player.”  I hadn’t really considered that before, but I guess it’s true. Can Pujols keep it up? Or will he join this crowd of players who fell the farthest after ten seasons of excellence?

Cubs, cont’d. Are we really going to ask if the Cubs can break the 100+ year title drought when they (a) kind of stunk last year; and (b) their two biggest offseason acquisitions are Marlon Byrd and Carlos Silva?

There are some other storylines raised. The only really interesting one is whether we’ll see a changing of the guard in the AL West this year, with Seattle passing Anaheim. If the season started today I’d have to say yes. I’d even have to say that Anaheim might fall to third behind the Rangers.

But let’s just let it all unfold, OK?

Baseball to honor Stoneman Douglas High School as spring training games begin

New Era
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There were a few exhibitions against college teams yesterday but today the Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules begin in earnest, with big league teams, more or less, facing big league team, more or less.

The baseball will look like baseball, but the teams will be wearing different caps today: black caps with the maroon “SD” of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.

All teams and umpire crews will wear the caps pre-game, and they have the option to wear the caps during the games. The only two teams not playing today — the Royals and Rangers — will wear them tomorrow.

After the games players will sign the caps and they will be auctioned off to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.

Here’s today’s schedule: