Less than three weeks until the Major Leagues start again. About this time of the year I become increasingly anxious for it to start. It’s been a long winter; yesterday was the first time above freezing since the beginning of the year and the idea of a ball game in the warm, open air of summer is all that many have to get them through the gray and gloom of a Michigan winter.
The Tigers have got about the best line-up the majors have produced in the last ten years. At least four players are All Stars and half the team will be inducted into the Hall of Fame over the next thirty years. They’ve played solid ball in spring training routing my Reds over the weekend.
The hated Yankees as well as Boston look shaky. Look for Leyland’s old Florida team to do well this year along with Tampa Bay. The Detroit-Cleveland rivalry will be hotter than last year and my surprise pick in the NL is Milwaukee. It will be interesting to see how a lot of these teams play when their star players aren’t all juiced up on rhoids. Less dingers and more base running? One hopes we’ve moved past the home run derbies of the Steroid Era.
This year the first pitch will be thrown in Japan when the Red Sox play the A’s at the Tokyo Dome on the 26th. There are a handful of players from the Japanese leagues in the Majors and some of them are brilliant ballplayers. Japan only gets the opening spot because of the size of their markets and the ability to merchandise. It should be in Dominica, Venezuela or somewhere else in the Caribbean if the ML were to really celebrate the games geographic and spiritual center.
Here’s one I’ve never heard of. On March 29th a Civil Rights Exhibition game will be held in Memphis between the White Sox and Mets in Memphis, home to the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968. Is this a way for all of those White Sox fans to atone for their fathers throwing stones at MLK in Skokie? And the Mets? What got them there? And why not a southern team like Atlanta, home to King’s birth and church? I suppose the Braves’ vile mascot and “Tomahawk Chop” would be out of place at an event celebrating civil rights.
And how about lowering ticket prices so the urban population can see the games. Baseball is quickly losing black fans. I wonder why? At any Detroit game the stadium will be overflowing with white folks, in fact the white population of Detroit usually doubles during a major sporting event as the suburbs briefly empty into the zone de sécurité created by phalanxes of Detroit cops around the field, leaving the locals to gather in the alley behind outfield to peer through the slats for get a glimpse of the game.