I question the wisdom of having Opening Day on a Thursday at 1 pm, when most people can’t watch it. But, since I’ll be working from home tomorrow, I don’t question it too hard – the sooner the better. The Knicks suck, I don’t have a horse in the NCAA tournament, football is all horrifying brain injuries and labor disputes. GET HERE ALREADY, BASEBALL.
I went on record yesterday as predicting the Yanks to finish a respectable 3rd in the AL East, though I’m not as pessimistic as that may sound; I expect them to be a good, competitive team, just maybe not quite good and competitive enough. On the plus side, I also have C.C. Sabathia and Robinson Cano in the top three for Cy Young and MVP, respectively. I think it’ll be an entertaining season, which is what I mostly care about,
Things I’m most looking forward to:
- Mariano Rivera. The one Yankee who is never overhyped, just that damn good.
- Curtis Granderson. Maybe I shouldn’t have bought into all the fuss about his improved swing at the end of last season (small sample size and all), but I did, and I’m looking for a big season from him this year. Even if that doesn’t happen, the guy is extremely likable, so he should be fun to root for.
- Robbie Cano. I don’t know if he’ll keep getting better – and that would be a lot to ask for since he’s already plenty good enough – but this is the first year, I think, that going in I’ve considered Cano to be a real first-tier star and not just a talented and promising youngster. A good second baseman who’s also a legit middle-of-the-lineup masher is a precious thing.
- A healthy A-Rod in, possibly, one of the last years he’s young enough to make that contract seem like a good one. I don’t think he’ll be bad or anything, going forward – just a bit diminished with age (and aren’t we all?). I know better than to read anything into spring training numbers, but let’s just say it looks like Rodriguez is feeling pretty good right now. And that makes me rub my hands together like an old movie villain.
- Brett Gardner. I keep waiting for him to crash back to earth… but maybe he won’t? Is he actually this good? How much more does he need to show before I start believing it?
There are also, of course, a few things I have a bad feeling about:
- Ivan Nova. See, I’m not including Freddy Garcia/Bartolo Colon here, because everyone expects a fifth starter to be lousy. But Nova is in a position where, if he can’t give the team at least a solidly mediocre start, those losses are going to hurt. I think Nova could be solid in a relief role but that six good innings from him on a regular basis is too much to ask for; but the thing that gives me hope here is that he’s only 24 and threw well at AAA last year. Still, I miss Pettitte already.
- Catcher/Backup catcher. Gustavo Molina is such an incredibly awful hitter that we will all rejoice when Francisco Cervelli turns up again, hopefully in a month or so. But then we will remember that – much as I like the guy’s effort and energy and persona – he can’t hit either, except as compared to Molina. That’s fine and dandy for a BUC, but meanwhile, Russell Martin is no Jorge Posada – not with the bat and, so far in his career at least, not with the work ethic. We’ve all been spoiled by watching a borderline Hall of Famer catch the last decade-plus, and I think we’re about to realize just how much.
- Joba. For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: “It might have been!”
This was a long damn winter. Good, bad, whatever, bring on the baseball. And if, like me, Little Orphan Annie isn’t really your style, try this: