Spring training!

For some people, the portent of spring, with it promise of new life and new beginnings, is the first robin or the first flowers to bloom.  For baseball fans, it’s spring training.  And I am happy to say that spring training  has started!  Hope springs eternal in the human breast, and now the fans of every team are full of hope.  I’ll tell you my baseball hopes for this next season, and you tell me yours.

I’m following the Nationals these days, they being the home team close to where I live now.  The prospects look very good; indeed, amazing.  The team won its division and had the best record in baseball last year.  They brought back nearly all of their key players and made major additions.  To a pitching staff that includes a 21-game winner in Gi0 Gonzalez and a Stephen Strasburg ready to pitch an entire season, the Nats have added another fine pitcher in Dan Haren.  Moreover, they signed Rafael Soriano, the Yankees closer!  They also filled in their few weak spots, including getting the speedy, good-hitting centerfielder Denard Span.

So on paper, it looks like a promising season.  But that’s on paper.  Unfortunately, the games have to actually be played.  And every season seemingly strong teams go bust and an upstart team that no one had any hopes for comes out of nowhere and wins big.

So, those of you who are baseball fans, tell me your hopes and your prospects for this season.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://travisisthatguy.com TDoig

    Well, my hope is that the Rangers finish above third place this year. We jettisoned some excellent veteran leadership (Michael Young) and , Josh Hamilton went to a division rival. Despite him not being healthy 24/7, he still produced solid numbers without playing every game. Plus he’s on a roster with Pujols and Trout. I’m really hoping our off-season moves pay off. We still have Harrison and Darvish, but without that run support, it’s going to be a long season. Angels are the team to beat though out west. How do y’all think having Houston in the AL West will pan out?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Ugh…. baseball season’s about a month too long.

    That being said, here’s to my Cubbies!

  • SKPeterson

    I too hope the Rangers will finally overcome. I was more hopeful last year and surprised by the fade down the stretch. It is primarily for that reason that I can leave Michael Young and Josh Hamilton behind. The open question is who can and will step up. This is the year to do it – the Yankees are likely down and the team to beat will be the Angels, though Detroit certainly hangs in the mix. And for the National League, St. Louis or the Reds will suit me fine, though I would also like to see the Dodgers return to form.

  • Pete

    If, as SKPeterson @3 has asserted, the Yankees are “down”, then there will be no need for watching baseball this year.

  • Kirk

    I’m most looking forward to sitting in the stands with a beer on a warm summer night. I made 20+ Nats games last season and I’m looking to repeat.

  • Sharon Philp

    Dave Barry once observed that it is “all about the pitching.” This is why Cardinal Nation is so down about the prospect of Chris Carpenter being out for the season. That being so, it usually seems as though some relatively new, unknown steps up to the plate (baseball pun intended) and comes through. I hope the Cards will make it to the World Series, but they are likely to fall short again. David Freese will make a name for himself here this year, and the whole of the opening of the season will be about honoring Stan the Man.
    The only prediction I can make for other teams is that if the Cards are doing poorly while the Dodgers do well, certain members of my family will taunt us. (In fun–at least, I hope it is.)

  • Gregg Chastain

    Spring has sprung, and I look forward to the World Champion Giants making another run for the Series. Pretty much every one from last years team will be back, and I like our prospects. A very exciting time of year, and in addition to watching my beloved Gigantes, I look forward to a Dodger implosion.

  • DonS

    My teams are the Angels (where I now live) and the Phillies (where I grew up). I have a lower level of affinity for the Dodgers, but not when they are playing the Angels or Phillies. As has been said above, the Angels are being crowned World Series favorites by many, but that was also the case last year. Didn’t pan out so well. They have a solid but not spectacular rotation, anchored by Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, who hopefully has overcome some of the injury issues he had during the second half of last year. Obviously, with Trout, Pujols, and Hamilton, assuming they can all stay healthy, they have a potentially formidable lineup. Their bullpen was their undoing last year, but is substantially improved on paper, though Ryan Madsen’s recovery from Tommy John surgery is a key to whether the bullpen will be only fair or perhaps good. Depth at the minor league level is very thin, so there are not many options for plugging holes if significant injuries occur, which is likely given the aging status of both Pujols and Hamilton. The Rangers are probably not quite as good this year as last on paper, but their minor league system is well stocked — the division race should go down to the wire. Oakland greatly surprised last year — can they make a run this year as well? Seattle appears to be a significantly stronger team this year. All four existing AL West teams will benefit from having Houston in the division this year :-)

    The Nationals are clearly the team to beat in the NL East — especially since they will not again shut down their best pitcher just as they are reaching the playoffs — still the dumbest move in baseball history. The Phillies seem to think they will rebound this year, but any rebound will require a big comeback by Roy Halladay as well as big years from Howard and Utley. The Phillies are old, their bullpen is unproven, and their outfield is a huge question mark, despite the offseason addition of Ben Revere, who brings speed and defense, but not much power.

    As for the Dodgers, congratulations on taking the payroll crown from the Yankees! New ownership is spending like drunken sailors, but they have a lot of expensive, old pieces that may never jell as a team. I predict that they will seriously underperform expectations and that the Giants will give them a good run for the NL West division title.

  • EGK

    Hope springs eternal for this Royals fan, hoping that the addition of some new starting pitching might actually lead to a place in the playoffs (or at the very least, a .500 season).

  • helen

    I’ll watch some UT games and catch up with you guys at Series time. :)


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