Just received this text message from a friend: "Its finally here. Best night of the year." That just about sums up today. The games finally count and all the prognosticators, writers, and talk show hosts can finally be quiet and we will let the teams decide who is the best on the field.
For the first night since Oct. 29, the games count. It is very fitting to see the first game of the year being played in the same place the last game was played. 2009 should be a very exciting year, as you can make the case for at least half of the league to have a shot at winning the pennant. And after the Rays last year, every team has hope to make a dream run.
There are lots of story lines. From two new ballparks in New York, to the A-Rod saga, to new faces in new places, and finally to the game's continued transition to younger, athletic players. This is easily seen with teams giving the nods to top prospects such as Jordan Schafer in Atlanta, Colby Rasmus in St. Louis, Dexter Fowler in Colorado, and Trevor Cahill in Oakland. Teams are deciding to give the young guns a shot instead of paying money for an older player who won't produce.
The exception to this rule is in New York with the opening of $2 billion worth of new stadiums. The two New York teams have decided to go out and add the top free agents: C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira now call the Bronx home, while the Mets have tended to their 2007 and 2008 Achilles heals by adding Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz to tighten up the bullpen. We will see if these investments pay off.
AL East: Yankees
AL Central: Indians
AL West: A's
AL Wild Card: Red Sox
NL East: Mets
NL Central: Reds
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Cubs
Surprise teams: Royals, Rangers, Reds, Giants
As of now, everyone is 0-0, and everyone has a chance. Well, maybe not the Pirates. But everyone, even the Royals, have a chance to be good and win their division. Fans are figuring out which breaks they need and who needs to stay healthy or take the next step to help their teams contend.
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