The HardballTalk Season Preview

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Opening Day is upon us.  Well, one of them anyway. We had one in Japan last week. And then the Cardinals-Marlins game and then more staggered Opening Days across Thursday and Friday. It’s all a conspiracy, you know. The red, white and blue decorative bunting industry and its high-powered lobbyists are what made that happen. More “Opening Days” means more of those banners and that means more money for Big Bunting. Alas.

But baseball is back, and that’s good. And to hold you over until the Cardinals and Marlins face off, here are links to all 30 of HardballTalk’s Springtime Storyline posts.  Read all of these and you’ll be able to talk intelligently about every team in the game.

Unless the predictions are all wrong, of course. In which case this will still be useful as a quick-reference for our collective ignorance and folly.  We believe, however, that we did a pretty darn good job with these.

AL EAST

Are the Yankees the best team in baseball?

Does anyone remember that the Boston Red Sox were really good last year?

Do the Tampa Bay Rays have the best rotation in baseball?

Have Toronto Blue Jays brought in enough help for Jose Bautista?

Can Dan Duquette lead the Orioles out of the wildnerness?

 

AL CENTRAL

Can anyone in the AL Central beat the Detroit Tigers?

Will the Cleveland Indians build on last season or take a step backward?

Are the Kansas City Royals finally ready to contend?

Are the Chicago White Sox rebuilding or contending?

Can the Minnesota Twins get back on track after 99 losses?

 

AL WEST

Can the Rangers win the AL once again?

Did the Angels buy themselves the A.L. West?

Who are the Oakland Athletics?

Can the Seattle Mariners score any runs?

 

NL EAST

Are the Phillies still a juggernaut?

Will standing pat get the Braves back to the playoffs?

Are the Marlins the most interesting team in baseball?

Are the Nationals ready to contend?

 How long will the Mets spend in baseball purgatory?

 

NL CENTRAL

Will the St. Louis Cardinals survive the loss of three legends?

Is there life after Prince Fielder in baseball’s smallest market?

Have the Reds built themselves a World Series contender?

Are the Pittsburgh Pirates getting any closer to breaking .500?

How will year one of the Cubs’ rebuilding plan fly in The Friendly Confines?

What will the Astros’ final year in the National League look like?

 

NL WEST

Was 2011 a fluke for the Arizona Diamondbacks?

Are the San Francisco Giants going to give Brandon Belt a chance?

Will the Rockies make us all look like suckers again?

How long until new ownership puts the magic back in the Los Angeles Dodgers?

What did the Mat Latos deal do for the San Diego Padres?

Marlins home run sculpture is going, going, gone!

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Not long after the new ownership group bought the Miami Marlins, face of the franchise Derek Jeter made it clear that he wanted the home runs sculpture beyond the outfield fence gone. He simply doesn’t like it aesthetically and many think that, among Jeter’s goals, he’d like to erase any trace of Jeff Loria’s legacy, which includes the sculpture.

The problem: the sculpture is not Jeter’s to remove. The sculpture is public property, purchased as part of the Art in Public Places program, which requires art to be installed for the public in county-owned buildings, which includes Marlins Park. Miami-Dade officials have said that moving it was not possible as the sculpture was “not moveable” and was “permanently installed: as it was designed specifically for Marlins Park. And that’s before you get into how logistically complicated it would be to move it. It’s seven stories tall and is connected to a hydraulic system, plumbing and there’s electricity.

What Jeter wants, however, Jeter eventually gets. From the Miami Herald:

The Miami Marlins won county permission on Tuesday to move its home-run sculpture out of Marlins Park to the plaza outside . . . In its new location outside, “Homer” will still turn on for home runs, as well as at the end of every home win and every day at 3:05 p.m., an homage to Miami’s original area code.

It may or may not be moved before Opening Day, but once it is moved there will be a new seating and standing room only area for spectators where the sculpture currently sits.