Many pundits will soon be releasing their “MLB Preview” in weeks to come. It will be chock full of things to expect, look forward to, and lament. And, while I am no pundit and merely a dude with a computer, I, too, decided to release my own preview of sorts … before everyone else. I’m competitive like that. But instead of giving you insightful things to think about and ponder, I instead am going to be incredibly more selfish and tell you about the things that have me excited for baseball in 2014.
- Jose Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka: Abreu got six years and $68 million (with a $10 million signing bonus) from the White Sox. Tanaka got seven years and $155 million from the Yankees. While not the same in terms of dollars and cents, one has to think, does it make sense to offer all those dollars for either player? (See what I did there?) Bad puns aside, this is not a new question and sometimes overplayed. It is, however, a question that is still intriguing in any sport: does the the potential value of a rookie’s skill (drafted or not) still warrant a high-level contract? While both Tanaka and Abreu seem to have proven themselves in their respective leagues, the level of play in the MLB is significantly higher than anything either of them have faced. It seems to me that the emergence of Yasiel Puig played a large role in this type of money. And, not to mix sports here, we have to remember for every Puig, there could be 10 other JaMarcus Russells. But I am optimistic for both Abreu and Tanaka. They’ll no doubt have pressure, but I’m looking forward to seeing how each guy steps up to the plate (Ohhhh, the puns!).
- Cubs Prospects: Fans that read this blog and follow the Cubs system closely know the names and know the stats. However, slowly but surely, more and more articles praising the young bucks in the Cubs system are surfacing from people who follow more than just the North Side. It feels like the Stark family motto in Game of Thrones: “Winter is coming…” (NERD ALERT). But instead of the awful impending freezing temps that the Starks reference, we have amazing young baseball players. It’s a “winter” filled with windows breaking due to home-runs, Arizona League MVP’s, and cracking top 100 lists. While I’m not holding my breath for 21-year-old saviors making their way into the big leagues, I am however excited to see if they are given a chance this year at the big league level. Some may. Some may not. But if even one is, it should make for some exciting baseball regardless of the standings.
- Bobbleheads: That’s pretty much it. I don’t know what it is, but I love a free bobble head that’s given away at sporting events. Thanks to Brett’s article about freebies at Wrigley, I’ve got those dates locked into the calendar.
- Derek Jeter, the AL, and Wrigley: I am one that enjoys interleague play, especially when it’s held at Wrigley Field. This year, I’ll be going to three NL-AL series at Wrigley (Yankees, Rays, and Orioles). There’s something truly special about hearing players’ reactions who have never played at Wrigley or don’t come very often. Sure, not everyone likes it, but for the most part players recognize the history that surrounds Wrigley and the atmosphere that comes with it. There’s an added bonus this year with it being Jeter’s last season. I really have never known another Yankee shortstop. He came into the league when I was 8 and quickly grew into becoming my favorite baseball player as a kid, even as a young Cubs fan. I’ve never seen him play live, and it’ll be a real treat to see his farewell tour. I just hope he’s not injured when they roll into Chicago. Then I guess I’ll just have to watch
Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Soriano and Ellsbury.
- Opening Day: Opening day is amazing. If you’ve never been, I would highly suggest doing so. I love it. It’s my Christmas. You get to drink Bloody Mary’s early in the morning, catch a glimpse at Cubs greats around Wrigleyville, and usually sit in the freezing cold and rain with other fans in the bleachers. It’s great. And it’s become somewhat of a tradition to go and tough out whatever weather is thrown at us. It makes me tougher … or something.
What are you looking forward to this season? Serious or not, I’d love to hear it. Feel free to drop me a tweet or shoot down to the comments. Only 33 days until opening day.