Domestically, the MLB season started last night in Washington, with the debut of their new stadium, and ended in dramatic fashion. However, the MLB season started last week when the Red Sox & A's faced off in Japan for two games, with each team winning one game.
Dude. That's totally sweet. The MLB season starts with a few games in Japan, then the first game within the U.S. is played in a brand new stadium and ends with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning. Awesome. I freaking love baseball.
My excitement doesn't end there though, as my two favorite teams, the Seattle Mariners & Chicago Cubs play their season openers today. The M's will square off at home against division rival Texas (Rangers), while the Cubbies play at home against division rival Milwaukee (Brewers).
Both clubs have high expectations for the new year, with the Cubs looking to repeat their NL Central Division Champs success from last year and the M's looking to contend with the Angels for the AL West crown.
The Cubs kept most of their core players intact, including their big four marquee players: Zambrano, Soriano, Lee & Ramirez. They finally parted ways with the once promising, but injury prone Mark Prior, and have moved their other highly praised pitcher, Kerry Wood, into the role as the closer. With the addition of Japanese All-Star, Kosuke Fukudome in the outfield, the Cubs are looking tough in the NL Central.
Here in Seattle, the M's surpassed expectations last year by giving the Angles a run for the AL West crown, but fell short at the end of the season due to a lack of consistent starting pitching and less than timely hitting. Fortunately, the management addressed these issues in the off season. They signed starting pitcher Carlos Silva (formerly of the Twins) to serve as solid anchor in the back of the starting rotation. He should be good for 10-14 wins, as his pitching style works well with Safeco & with our good we are defensively. They also signed Brad Wilkerson to play right field, but Mike Morse played so incredible in spring training that they can't keep him out of the lineup. More than likely they will split time out there, which is great because Morse can learn from Wilkerson, a veteran player, and give Wilkerson some extra rest throughout the season. The biggest move of the off season though, was the trade for starting pitcher Erik Bedard from Baltimore. He is easily one of the top five pitchers in the AL, if not all of baseball, and provides the M's with an experienced, power pitching ace, something we've lacked in recent years. His addition to the team will also provide invaluable in mentoring Felix Hernandez, our young and talented, but often sporadic, number two starting pitcher.
So I'm stoked for thew new season, especially for my two teams. Even this guy at Sports Illustrated thinks the Cubs have what it takes to get to the World Series this year. They haven't won it all since 1908. 100 years. Is this their year? I sure hope so...I also hope the World Series doesn't come down to the M's and the Cubs (though it would be great to see them both do so well) because as much as I love the M's (born & raised in the Seattle area) I'm about 98% sure I'd be rooting for the Cubs. Sorry Sea-town, and Bill Simmons, the Cubbies are my team.