With all the Lin-sanity going on in the NBA people might forget that Spring Training has officially begun. Yes, the start of the 2012 MLB season is upon us and as the rest of the players make their way down to the sun-drenched skies of Florida and Arizona, it’s refreshing to know that each team is beginning their season anew. And, with the unforgettable pennant races and a 2011 World Series, it is going to be interesting to see if – and how – Major League Baseball tops itself this year.
With a very active offseason, it’s shaping up to be a very exciting year in baseball. Powerhouse free agents changed teams this year. Albert Pujols went to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Detroit Tigers signed Prince Fielder. Because of these offseason mega moves, the balance of power in Major League Baseball has appeared to shift to the American League and with three of the last four World Series winners coming from the NL, the impact of these signings are sure to be followed closely. It’s hard to determine how these offseason victories will translate to the diamond but on the surface, they sure do seem like game changers.
Countless other teams look to make their mark on the 2012 Major League Baseball season as well. The recently revamped Miami Marlins are setting up shop in a new stadium this year and they have an equally fresh roster to go with their new digs. New players to the team include shortstop Jose Reyes, left-handed starting pitcher Mark Buehrle and right-hander Carlos Zambrano. All eyes will undoubtedly be on them to see if they can help the Marlins to the playoffs or at the very least, help them from calling the NL East basement home again this season.
Look for the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves to try to rectify their epic September collapses with winning records and while the Pittsburgh Pirates have been at the bottom of baseball’s barrel for nearly two decades, this could be the year they finish above .500 for a change. With solid team players like All-Star Andrew McCutchen and Joel Hanrahan, it is entirely possible for the Bucs to shed their 19-year losing streak and perhaps even sell out a game or two at PNC Park.
Predicting the outcome of the 2012 baseball season is hard but one thing is certain, Spring Training is a clean start for all teams and in essence—a blank canvas. There is no first place or last, no embarrassing error stats, ERAs or batting averages to hide from. Instead, the start of Spring Training has a redemptive quality that all 30 teams can embrace. Now’s the time for ball clubs to use their clean slates to their advantage, write their own history and knock it out of the park this season because after all, the quest for October baseball begins now.