Yes, it’s only pitchers and catchers.
But it doesn’t matter. Baseball season is here. Football is over. Basketball and hockey are, well, not as exciting as baseball. When pitchers and catchers officially report, to me it’s the beginning of the season.
And I’m ready for it.
Last year ended very sour to me. A poor performance in the first round of the playoffs eliminated the Phillies and their league-best record.
Note that I’m still against a five-game series. I always have been. When the divisional round was added to the playoffs, I said it then as I still do today — it should be a seven-game series. A five-game series becomes a crap shoot and, I think, penalizes a deeper and better team because it allows the team with the worst record to maximize what it has. Not to say that the Phillies didn’t just run into baseball’s hottest team last year, but it’s something I’ve always believed. You can’t reward the lower-ranked teams in the playoffs and that’s what a five-game series does.
This is the day I truly love because I know real baseball is right around the corner. It’s something that can help me ignore the crappy things going on in my life, even for a little while.
(Though, to be fair, it’s sometimes hard to forget certain things knowing how much these guys get paid to play a game).
The Phillies, again, should be one of the favorites. Though teams such as the Marlins and Nationals improved in the NL East, most experts have agreed that the Phillies are still the cream of the division. The Braves pretty much remained the same and the Mets, well, are the Mets. With all going on with that team, I’d be willing to bet they won’t be making any runs at the division.
The rest of the NL will be interesting.
No more Albert Pujols.
No more Prince Fielder.
And that doesn’t stink. At least for those of us who are fans of the National League (and not fans of the Cardinals or Brewers, respectively).
The Phillies, without a doubt, overpaid to get the best closer on the market in Jonathan Papelbon this offseason. Meanwhile, ex-closer Ryan Madson signed for much cheaper with the Reds.
I’ve disliked Papelbon for many, many years.
The former Red Sox closer has always reminded me of that college jock/frat boy who never grew up after leaving college. I don’t like some of his antics and likely never will.
I had told a friend the day the Phils signed him — if any team can humble Papelbon, I think the Phils could be it. They have a very focused group and with people like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and the such, it’s going to be hard to be a pompus idiot. So, hopefully, he’ll realize it’s time to grow up a little. There’s no doubting what he can do on the mound.
The Phils also had some changes that needed to be made.
Raul Ibanez had his contract run out and wasn’t re-signed. That’s too bad because I really wanted to see him win a championship with the Phils. He’s a class act and I’ll miss him. I know he was up and down during his tenure, but he came through with some big hits in key situations. That leaves left field as a question mark.
Ryan Howard was seriously injured during his last at-bat of the playoffs (the final out of the Phillies season) and isn’t expected to play until like May.
The Phils have brought back a fan favorite in Jim Thome as some power off the bench and an occasional first base option. There’s new faces in Ty Wiggington and Laynce Nix. There’s a minor league contract to Juan Pierre, which could be very interesting. Speed off the bench and the ability to put the ball in play. The bullpen is WAY overcrowded.
And J-Roll is back.
There’s questions. There’s hope. There’s a full season. I’m excited.
This is the time of the year when everyone is tied. Every team has hope. Every team has a chance. It’s not September, it’s February. Injuries can ruin a team. Rookies can make a splash and be a huge impact. Teams not expected to contend can pull off a wild move and become front-runners. A few mishaps can take a top contender and put them back to the middle of the pack.
Anything can happen.
And it’s such a wonderful time! Go Phils!
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