Liz Levey, ‘Doah Staff Writer
April 2, 2014
On Mar. 22 and 23, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks played their opening series game in Sydney, Australia in the historic Sydney and Cricket Grounds which was fully renovated to a baseball configuration. Even though the Dodgers swept the Diamondback, baseball has now reached further out in bringing the game to more people around the world.
The beauty of Major League Baseball in 2014 is the competitive balance that has come about. Two decades ago, this was Commissioner Bud Selig’s vision for his sport. He vowed to construct a system in which every team, all 30 of them, small market or big market has a chance to compete for a playoff berth and a championship.
In his final season as Commissioner, Selig’s dream has been realized. Money no longer dictates the standings. Over ten seasons, the average payroll rank of the World Series champion is tenth. Money still matters. Money allows teams to cover up mistakes and get back in the game. With more teams in contention and with an amazing number of gifted young players making an impact, baseball has given us wild rides the past few seasons. Playoff races have gone down to the final hours of the regular season.
Even though season may be technically underway, fans are still look forward to celebrating the primetime opener between the Dodgers and Padres on Sunday, Mar. 30, followed by MLB’s official opening day on Monday, Mar. 31. Here are a few things that fans need to know about to be ready for the first pitch.
First the New York Yankees broke open their piggy bank to land former Red Sox star Jacoby Ellsbury, Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran, Braves catcher Brian McCann and starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka from Japan. Also New York will not have the services of American League MVP candidate Robinson Cano, who signed a crazy $240-million dollar deal with the Seattle Mariners and outfielder Curtis Granderson, who moved across town to the Mets.
Second first baseman Prince Fielder will attempt to regain his 30 homerun form with Texas in the hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark in Arlington after being acquired in a trade that sent second baseman Ian Kinsler to Detroit.
Third outfielder Mark Trumbo, acquired by Arizona in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels after clubbing a career-best 34 home runs, should get comfortable fast in a better hitting environment.
Last, baseball has long been accused of resistance to change, but in 2008, MLB joined other professional sports leagues by adopting video review to examine close home run calls. In January, baseball took a page from the National Football League’s book and approved a manager’s challenge. Teams are allotted one review per game, on any call aside from balls and strikes. If the challenge is successful, the manager will be allowed to challenge again.