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MLB Season Returns With Big Changes

John Davila, Staff Writer
March 29, 2012
Filed under Opinion, Sports

It’s here! The 2012 MLB season is vastly approaching with Opening Day in Texas only nine days away. It’s the time of the year when baseball will be the only major sport in the country that is happening.

There were many big changes this offseason. The biggest of all was when the MLB union announced they would expand its playoff format. For the past 17 years, only eight teams could make playoffs and now they have moved it up to 10 teams.  I don’t agree with this new change. With the new format, a third place team can make the playoffs and possibly win the World Series. A third place team should not have a chance to go all the way because frankly they don’t deserve to. Previously, there were only two second place teams that were allowed to make playoffs and now it seems somewhat unfair. Now, at the end of each season, there will be a one game playoff between two third place teams and one of them will for sure make the playoffs. This is ridiculous because if the team wasn’t good enough to place in the top two in their division, then they shouldn’t be given a chance.

As far as trades and free agent signings go, the biggest surprise was when Albert Pujols left the St. Louis Cardinals, the only team he has played for, to sign with the Los Angeles Angels.  Pujols signed a 10-year,  $245 million dollar contract, which was way too much for a player that old, he’s 34. The Angels also made big noise when they signed CJ Wilson who was formally with their division rival the Texas Rangers. Texas quickly filled Wilson’s role by signing the best pitcher in all of Japan, Yu Darvish. This was a good move but I don’t believe he will be a superstar. There are many differences between Japanese and American baseball and many will be looking to see how he adapts. I’m predicting that he won’t do as well as everyone wants him to because of many issues including the size of the baseballs and the Texas heat.

The best acquisition this off-season was when the Detroit Tigers signed first baseman Prince Fielder for nine years and $214 million. Fielder is a superstar with plenty of playing time left.  Having him and Miguel Cabrera in the heart of the lineup should make the Tigers a favorite to win their division.

Be ready for certain teams to have breakout seasons. The Rangers and Angels need to watch out for the Oakland A’s to come out and contend because they are stacked with some of the best young pitchers in the game.  In the AL Central, the Tigers are the favorite but will need to watch out for the Kansas City Royals who are led by outfielder Alex Gordon and could surprise them. In the National League, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals are two of the youngest teams in the whole league and could make a run towards a pennant.

As always, injuries will play a key role as many teams will try and protect their star players from getting hurt. The Boston Red Sox lost Kevin Youkilis for the majority of last year and that played a major part in them not making the playoffs. Stephen Strasburg is one of the best pitchers in the league but his year was cut short after having to get Tommy John surgery last season. He reports he feels better than ever but the Nationals will have to keep a close eye on him.

The 2012 season looks like it will be a very entertaining season with no certainties at all. Anything could happen this year and anyone could win the World Series.