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Reasons for All 30 MLB Fanbases to Be Excited in 2013

Doug MeadCorrespondent IFebruary 13, 2013

Reasons for All 30 MLB Fanbases to Be Excited in 2013

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    With Opening Day for the 2013 MLB season just 46 days away, excitement is in the air for each fanbase as all 30 teams start spring training.

    Each team worked diligently in the offseason to prepare for the upcoming year. Expectations are high in many cities, while fans in other locations are simply looking for progress.

    As fans patiently await the arrival of the regular season, we'll take a look at one reason for fans of all 30 MLB teams to be excited about for the upcoming year.

    In some cases, silver linings for teams not projected for playoff berths will be in order. In other cases, exciting prospects to watch could give fans plenty of reason for hope.

    Whatever the case, it's about looking at the positive for everyone.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Youth and Athleticism

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks made a decided shift this offseason.

    Fans can get excited about a blend of youth and athleticism that defines the 2013 Diamondbacks roster.

    In the outfield, a 24-year-old and a pair of 25-year-olds will figure prominently in Arizona's plans, as Adam Eaton, A.J. Pollock and Gerardo Parra will get their chance to shine in the desert.

    In the infield, 22-year-old Didi Gregorius will deliver tremendous promise for the future, while 25-year-old Paul Goldschmidt will attempt to build on a stellar 2012 season in which he hit .286 with 20 home runs and 82 RBI.

    On the mound, 24-year-old Trevor Cahill, 21-year-old Tyler Skaggs, 23-year-old Patrick Corbin, 23-year-old Randall Delgado and 26-year-old Wade Miley all give promise for a pitching staff that can contribute mightily for years to come.

    General manager Kevin Towers definitely did some wheeling and dealing this winter. Combined with several youngsters already in place, he has set up his Diamondbacks to succeed for years to come with a roster loaded with youthful promise.

Atlanta Braves: Up, Up and a Hey

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    Fans of the Atlanta Braves have to be excited about the potential of their new outfield.

    Joining 23-year-old Jason Heyward this season is 25-year-old Justin Upton and his older brother B.J., 28 years of age.

    The trio has the potential to produce in big numbers, giving an air of explosiveness to a team that figures to contend once again in the NL East Division.

Baltimore Orioles: The Continuing Maturation Process of Manny Machado

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    Last year, fans of the Baltimore Orioles watched as highly-touted prospect Manny Machado made his debut at the age of 20.

    Machado was definitely not out of place in a lineup competing for its first postseason appearance in 15 years. Machado hit .262 with seven homes and 26 RBI in 51 games down the stretch.

    Playing away from his natural shortstop position, Machado delivered defensively as well, committing just five errors at third base.

    This year, Machado will again be featured in the Orioles' lineup as he continues at third base and offers tremendous hope to a fanbase hungry for even more postseason glory.

Boston Red Sox: The Effect of John Farrell on the Pitching Staff

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    The Boston Red Sox have certainly had their share of disappointment and drama over the past seasons.

    However, new manager John Farrell not only aims to end both of the above, but fans can look forward to Farrell and his effect on the pitching staff.

    Farrell was the pitching coach under manager Terry Francona from 2006-2009. During that time, he oversaw the development of starters Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.

    Not coincidentally, both pitchers regressed after Farrell took over as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.

    Fans shouldn't underestimate Farrell's ability to work with young pitchers, and the Red Sox pitching staff should be the biggest beneficiaries of his return to Boston.

Chicago Cubs: Anticipating What Anthony Rizzo Can Accomplish Through a Full Year

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    Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer had to do a bit of convincing to get his boss, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, to sign off on the deal to acquire Anthony Rizzo from the San Diego Padres last year.

    Hoyer's persuasions paid off.

    Rizzo made his Cubs debut on June 26 after bashing Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .342 average, 23 home runs and 62 RBI over 70 games.

    Rizzo ended up with a .285 average, 15 homers and 48 RBI for the Cubs in 89 games.

    This year, Cubs fans will have the chance to see what Rizzo can do over the course of a full season. While the promise of a postseason berth isn't likely in Chicago, Rizzo can at least provide fans the promise of a superstar.

Chicago White Sox: Former Bullpen Hero Returns to Add Support and Guidance

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    The bullpen for the Chicago White Sox remains largely the same from last season.

    But fans will see a familiar face leading the relief corps.

    Former White Sox closer Bobby Thigpen brings his veteran experience as the new bullpen coach. Thigpen set the major league record with his 57 saves in 1990, retiring with 201 career saves overall.

    Thigpen has worked in the White Sox minor league organization for several years as a coach, so youngsters like Nate Jones and Addison Reed are already aware of the great support he can provide.

    No doubt that fans can watch as Thigpen serves as a terrific example for a bullpen that should be a strength for the White Sox in 2013.

Cincinnati Reds: Aroldis Chapman and His Transition to Starting Rotation

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    Fans of the Cincinnati Reds will clearly be looking forward to the 2013 season, and for good reason. The Red return after a 97-win campaign with a roster largely intact.

    Fans can also watch with rapt attention as 24-year-old fireballing closer Aroldis Chapman makes the transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation.

    There is plenty of precedent for the move—C.J. Wilson and Chris Sale are two other southpaws who successfully transitioned within the last two years.

    It's a move that makes sense for the Reds, who currently feature an all-rightie rotation. Fans can now watch Chapman work his magic for close to 200 innings rather than 70.

Cleveland Indians: A Brand Spanking New Offense

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    Fans of the Cleveland Indians had to have been excited at the prospects of watching an improved offense before last weekend.

    They now have one more reason to be excited as well.

    Courtesy of Michael Bourn signing a new four-year, $48 million contract, Indians fans have one more reason to look forward to the 2013 season.

    Bourn, Drew Stubbs, Mark Reynolds and Nick Swisher are in town to provide the Indians with much-needed offense.

    Fans showed an air of apathy in attending games at Progressive Field last year. Only 1.6 million fans went through the turnstiles—the second-worst attendance in the American League.

    The new infusion of offense should change that.

Colorado Rockies: Cargo and Tulo

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    The Colorado Rockies suffered through a 98-loss season last year, the worst in franchise history.

    While the well-documented struggles of the pitching staff contributed to the team's demise, injuries from key position players didn't help their cause, either.

    First baseman Todd Helton and outfielder Michael Cuddyer both missed significant time last year. In addition, superstar shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was limited to just 47 games while dealing with a painful groin injury that ultimately required season-ending surgery.

    And outfielder Carlos Gonzalez saw his production take a huge dip in the second half with the absence of the above bats in the lineup around him.

    For the 2013 season, Rockies fans may not have high hopes for a playoff berth, but they can get excited about a healthy Tulowitzki returning to aid Gonzalez in the offense.

    Hey, at least it's something.

Detroit Tigers: The Possibility of Ending a 29-Year Title Drought

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    The Detroit Tigers last hoisted a World Series championship banner in 1984. They've come close in recent years, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 and the San Francisco Giants last season.

    This year, the Tigers clearly showed they are in win-now mode, signing both Torii Hunter and Anibal Sanchez.

    Fans in Motown will be awaiting the regular season with much anticipation. Owner Mike Ilitch is desperate to bring a title home for his fans as well.

    Will this finally be the year?

Houston Astros: Watching Youngsters Grow Together

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    The Houston Astros will be starting life anew in the American League this coming season. They'll also be starting fresh with a roster loaded with youth.

    Fans likely don't have high expectations for a team that figures to have a payroll somewhere around $25 million, by far the lowest in the majors.

    However, they can look forward to a team headed by first-year manager Bo Porter, who will attempt to develop his youthful charges and turn them into a cohesive unit.

    Fans can expect quite a few bumps along the way, but they could be watching a group that holds the key to future success.

Kansas City Royals: A Revamped Pitching Staff that Gives Hope

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    Kansas City Royals owner David Glass said last September that he would have no problem spending money to improve his pitching staff.

    “What I’ve always said is when we get to the point where we’re competitive,” Glass said (via Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star), “we’ll do what we have to do to improve our position. Yes, we’ll do what we need to do. We are committed to improving our starting pitching.

    “Exactly how we’re going to do it, or what is going to be available, I don’t have any idea right now. But we’ll have a plan in place (going into the offseason). We know we need to improve this team for next year. This starting pitching is going to get better.”

    Glass came through with his promise.

    Fans can get excited about the prospects, as James Shields, Wade Davis, Ervin Santana and the re-signed Jeremy Guthrie drastically alter a starting rotation that posted a 5.01 ERA last season.

    Combined with a young core of position players, Royals fans have hope that the new core of starters can help in delivering a postseason berth for the first time in 28 seasons.


    Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/09/24/3831815/royals-owner-glass-says-hell-spend.html#storylink=cpy

Los Angeles Angels: Trout, Pujols and Hamilton

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    Just the very mention of the same trio listed above brings plenty of excitement for Los Angeles Angels fans.

    Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton now make up three of the top four players in the batting order for the Angels.

    A team that has finished out of the postseason for three straight years has this trio to power what should be one of the most explosive offenses in the American League.

    For fans watching games at Angel Stadium this year, fireworks could be the word of the year.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Watching Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Put into Action

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    Since last July, the new ownership group of the Los Angeles Dodgers has sunk approximately half a billion dollars—give or take a few cool million—into revamping the lineup.

    While the changes made last season didn't result in a playoff berth, more offseason transactions gave Dodger fans plenty of promise for the upcoming season.

    Zack Greinke, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Brandon League, Josh Beckett and Hyun-Jin Ryu will all be looking forward to their first full season with the Dodgers.

    High expectations for a roster sporting the highest payroll in major league history is a given. However, for Dodger fans, it also brings an air of newness and vibrancy. Tired of the previous owner and all the shenanigans that occurred in the front office, fans now have an ownership committed to delivering a championship.

    That's plenty to get excited about.

Miami Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton

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    Fans of the Miami Marlins are no doubt disgusted at seeing their team once again get dismantled.

    The fire sale that occurred in South Florida has finally seen its embers subside somewhat, and new manager Mike Redmond is now charged with putting together a roster loaded with youngsters and recycled veterans.

    However, at least fans have the opportunity to again watch Giancarlo Stanton in action.

    Stanton may not get a lot of help from his inexperienced offensive mates this season. but watching a prodigious blast off the bat of Stanton is always a treat.

    We discussed silver linings in our introductory slide. Stanton is the biggest silver lining for a team bound for disappointment in 2013.

Milwaukee Brewers: Seeing Young Starters Prove Critics Wrong

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    For much of the offseason, much was said about the inexperience of the starting rotation for the Milwaukee Brewers beyond ace Yovani Gallardo.

    Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers, Mark Rogers and Wily Peralta all showed promise last season, helping the Brewers climb back into playoff contention in late August before faltering in September.

    Fans will be hoping that quartet proves everyone wrong.

    The Brewers offense ranked first last season in runs scored in the National League. This offseason, general manager Doug Melvin revamped his bullpen with the acquisitions of Burke Badenhop, Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez.

    Melvin opted to leave his rotation alone, preferring to let his rotation continue their positive development.

    If the Brewers make the postseason this year, they'll have the opportunity to tell all nay-sayers who doubted their inexperienced starting rotation "I told you so!"

Minnesota Twins: P&P Along with M&M?

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    For the past several seasons, fans of the Minnesota Twins have been privileged to watch Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, aka the M&M boys. The duo has combined for two MVP awards.

    Now, fans can watch as a new young duo attempts to help the Twins' offense: Trevor Plouffe and Chris Parmelee—aka the P&P boys.

    Plouffe swatted 24 home runs in 119 games last season and is slated to be the starting third baseman for the Twins this year.

    Parmelee struggled, hitting just .229 with five homers in 62 games. However, with the trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere, Parmelee will get his chance to shine as the everyday right fielder.

    It could be a long season as the Twins look to rebound from a 96-loss season. But for fans, watching another pair of initials in Plouffe and Parmelee could be fun.

New York Mets: The Coming of Age For Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler

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    The New York Mets traded away R.A. Dickey this offseason, dealing a big blow to the starting rotation. In addition, Johan Santana is in the final year of his contract and comes with considerable injury concerns. It's certainly not clear whether or not he can actually last a full season.

    For the Mets, the future is bright, however. And young pitching prospects Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler will help in leading the way.

    There's certainly no guarantee that either will have major impact in the 2013 season. Harvey made his debut in late July and posted an outstanding 2.73 ERA in 10 starts. He will likely find a spot in the rotation.

    Wheeler was impressive at the minor league level as well. He posted a 12-8 record and 3.26 ERA in 25 starts between Double-A and Triple-A last year. He's likely not far away from making his debut.

    While the 2013 roster may not deliver much in the way of success, fans have an exciting tandem of young pitchers to look forward to in the not-so-distant future.

New York Yankees: Can the Geriatric Group Deliver?

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    The New York Yankees clubhouse should be well-stocked with vitamins this year—the legal kind, of course. 

    Their older roster is going to need all the energy it can muster.

    The Yankees return with a roster loaded with 30-somethings, with a sprinkling of 40-somethings as well. While much talk has centered on the aging core of veterans, fans will be looking forward to their favorite geriatric stars as they again attempt to deliver a postseason berth.

    The Yankees have failed to make the playoffs only once since 1995, and they've done it in the past with aging stars. Yankees fans will have no trouble pointing out that very fact as they watch this season unfold.

Oakland Athletics: Tapping into Magic of 2012 Season

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    The Oakland Athletics were clearly one of the surprise teams in the majors last year. In capturing the AL West Division title and taking the Detroit Tigers to the brink in the ALDS, they shattered expectations.

    Fans will be looking forward to a new season and will carry the hope that their A's can tap into that magical season and carry it forward.

Philadelphia Phillies: A Return to Prominence

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    The Philadelphia Phillies saw themselves on unfamiliar ground at the end of last season. They finished out of the postseason for the first time since 2006.

    Fans had gotten used to their winning ways, with five straight NL East Division titles and one World Series championship.

    They had gotten used to seeing stellar pitching performances backed up by a supportive offense and capable bullpen.

    Fans will be looking for that prominence to return in 2013.

    With the additions of Ben Revere, Michael Young, John Lannan, Mike Adams and Delmon Young, the Phillies filled quite a few holes.

    Fans can definitely be excited about a season that could boil down to a three-team race as the Phillies do battle along with the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Finally Ending 20 Years of Record Futility

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    The Pittsburgh Pirates hold the dubious distinction of having the longest consecutive losing streak in any North American professional league at 20 years.

    With changes made this offseason, fans will look forward to ending that streak of futility.

    The Pirates threatened to end it in the past two seasons only to falter badly down the stretch. Last year represented their closest attempt, falling just short at 79-83.

    This year, fans can only have renewed hope, as new catcher Russell Martin was brought on board to add punch. First baseman Gaby Sanchez will be expected to return to the form that saw him hit 19 home runs in back-to-back seasons for the Miami Marlins in 2010 and 2011.

    Fans will have hope as they watch the development of Starling Marte and Pedro Alvarez. They'll have hope as they watch A.J. Burnett follow up on a stellar 2012 campaign. They'll have hope as they watch Jason Grilli take on his new role as closer.

    And fans will have hope that the Pirates can avoid another second-half swoon and finally rid themselves of their losing ways.

San Diego Padres: What can Chase Headley do for an Encore?

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    Watching third baseman Chase Headley perform in the second half last season had to be fun for San Diego Padres fans.

    Headley was on fire after the All-Star break, hitting .308 with 23 home runs and 73 RBI. His 115 RBI overall led the National League.

    Clearly taking a huge step forward, Headley captured the Silver Slugger Award and Gold Glove Award for the first time in his career as well.

    As the 2013 season begins, Padres fans are no doubt disappointed that no major changes were made this offseason by a new ownership group. However, Headley clearly proved he was the real deal. With the fences being brought in at Petco Park over the winter, fans hope that Headley can take advantage and continue providing plenty of power.

San Francisco Giants: A Third Ring and Calls for a Dynasty

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    With two World Series titles in the past three seasons, the San Francisco Giants have clearly been of the class organizations in baseball.

    Fans will be excited as new season begins with a roster nearly intact and hopes for a third title in four seasons.

    Calls for a dynasty will be in order if the Giants can repeat. For Giants fans, that creates a buzz of excitement that's palpable.

Seattle Mariners: The Morse Code

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    The Seattle Mariners brought a familiar face back into the fold this offseason.

    Left fielder Mike Morse started his major league career in the Northwest, spending parts of four seasons with the Mariners before being dealt to the Washington Nationals in June 2009.

    Morse developed into a solid power-hitter during his days with the Nats, hitting .297 with 49 home runs in his past two seasons.

    Now back in Seattle, he can show off that power in the newly-revamped Safeco Field with fences being shortened.

    For an offense that has finished dead last in the American League in runs scored for the past four seasons, fans will have excitement at the prospects of Morse delivering plenty of power.

    The Morse Code will be in full effect in Seattle.

St. Louis Cardinals: The Potential of Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong in Infield

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    The St. Louis Cardinals made very few changes this offseason, bringing back a team that won 88 games and came within one game of reaching the World Series for a second straight year.

    Part of the excitement for the upcoming season stems from two youngsters who could eventually be major contributors in the infield: Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong.

    The Cardinals shipped out Skip Schumaker during the offseason, making room in the infield for Carpenter. He's been taking grounders at second base during the offseason—a position he's not familiar with. However, the Cardinals absolutely love his bat, and with the emergence of Allen Craig at first base, they'll do all they can to get Carpenter into the lineup as often as possible.

    In addition, prospect Kolten Wong is seen as being close to major league-ready as well. Wong hit .287 with nine homers and 52 RBI at Double-A Springfield last season. A strong start this spring could see Wong helping at the major league level sometime later this season.

Tampa Bay Rays: Anticipating the Arrival of Wil Myers

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    The Tampa Bay Rays took a major chance this offseason in dealing away two solid veteran pitchers for a top-hitting prospect. James Shields and Wade Davis were dealt to the Kansas City Royals, with the centerpiece of the trade being the power-hitting Wil Myers.

    Myers is expected to start the season at Triple-A Durham. However, he has been invited to spring training for the Rays.

    With the signing of Kelly Johnson, Ben Zobrist will likely move to right field, leaving Myers temporarily without a full-time position.

    In addition, the Rays have typically held back prospects long enough to delay free agency, so it's not a certainty that Myers will have major impact this season.

    However, Myers clubbed 37 home runs last season between Double-A and Triple-A, including hitting .304 with a .932 OPS after his promotion to Triple-A.

    If the Rays offense sputters early, the Rays could very well ditch their plan to hold Myers back. And fans will absolutely welcome his debut.

Texas Rangers: The Emergence of Profar and Olt

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    The Texas Rangers lost three key components of their offense with the departures of Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli.

    While Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski were signed to help replace some of that offense, the Rangers will likely need to look at other options as well.

    Enter prospects Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar.

    Olt and Profar both made their major league debuts last season, albeit in limited action. The Rangers opted not to go after other potential free agents to bolster their offense. Olt and Profar could both be given an opportunity to provide that offense in 2013.

    To some degree, it's a changing of the guard in Texas. While veterans Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and others are still in place, Olt and Profar clearly represent the future in Texas.

    Fans could be witnessing that future now.

Toronto Blue Jays: Changes that Lead to a Possible World Series Berth

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    Toronto Blue Jays fans have watched their team miss the playoffs each year since winning back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.

    With the bevy of changes made this winter, that could soon change.

    General manager Alex Anthopoulos revamped his roster with two huge trades, bringing in Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and R.A. Dickey. Along with a healthy Jose Bautista, slugger Edwin Encarnacion and the newly-signed Melky Cabrera, fans have plenty of reason to think their long playoff drought could finally end.

    And not just end, but possibly culminate in a World Series title.

Washington Nationals: First Championship in Nation's Capital in 89 Years

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    The last time a World Series banner was raised in Washington D.C. was in 1924. Calvin Coolidge was in office as the President, and loaf of bread cost just $.09.

    The 2013 Washington Nationals are hoping to add the first new banner in 89 years.

    Last year's team won a major league-leading 98 wins, winning the NL East division title before bowing to the St. Louis Cardinals in a grueling five-game NLDS.

    This year, the kid gloves are off for fireballing right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who was shut down after 159.1 innings last season. Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Dan Haren and Ross Detwiler, represent a rotation that rivals any of the best in the majors.

    The addition of Denard Span adds a solid leadoff option, along with improved outfield defense. And the addition of Rafael Soriano adds to a bullpen already considered strong.

    The Nationals, much like the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays, are clearly a team built to win now. Fans will no doubt be excited as they watch their Nationals try to raise a title banner in the nation's capital.

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.

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