Sadly, no opening day soliloquies here.
No waxing poetic about baseball games past.
No tugging at the heart strings with some proclamation of true love for the national pastime.
Sorry. Checked, but the cupboard is bare on that stuff.
However, some quick kudos are in order, and available, right here, right now, for the local contingent, as well as a few general observations for it and the sport in 2018.
For starters, yo, major tip of the cap to the Phillies’ higher ups with stepping up to sign not only potential ace Jake Arrieta but rookie Scott Kingery, essentially mocking any hints that the franchise was afraid to spend a few bucks in free agency and outright laughing at old-time baseball wisdom with delaying entry to the bigs for a major prospect just to hold maintain control on that prospect an extra year.
Put it this way, Matt Klentak and the boys may not be messing around. No “trust the process” for them – anymore at least. The GM, ownership, manager Gabe Kapler and the team itself, not for nothing, but such moves are screaming, “hey, we’re looking to win right now, not just down the road.”
That being said, was a little odd to see the multi-talented Kingery nowhere in the starting lineup Thursday against Atlanta.
What in the name of Odubel Herrera was that about? Not sure … because the regular center fielder wasn’t in that lineup, either.
But, we digress …
Push comes to shove this season, we appear to be looking at the regulars, both the old-timers and more recent, challenging for a World Series victory. The Yankees, Boston, Cleveland and defending champion Houston from the AL, and the Cubs, Dodgers and Washington in the NL.
With Giancarlo Stanton joining Aaron Judge to form a Herculean-looking order in the Bronx, you’d almost have to figure they’d bomb their way to the top. Only thing is, the Yankees might not even be the strongest 1-6 in their own division. That honor could belong to the Red Sox.
Either would face stiff competition on that front from the Cubs, who kickstarted the campaign with Ian Happ’s leadoff homer in Miami before Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell helped pound the Marlins into submission. All are capable of 25-30 homers and 90-100 RBIs.
MVPs? Easy. Angels center fielder Mike Trout in the AL and Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper in the NL.
Cy Youngs? Curveball. Since voters refuse to choose Clayton Kershaw anymore in the NL since apparently he’s won too many, let’s go with Stephen Strasburg, who was every bit as deserving last season as the guy who won it, Washington teammate Max Scherzer, and Boston lefty Chris Sale in the AL.
The Phillies? Kingery, if Kapler’s alt-managing style doesn’t implode, likely wins NL Rookie of the Year. He is that good, and, frankly, he was the talk of the entire organization most of last season before Rhys Hoskins got the call-up and showed his power display in the minors wasn’t a fluke.
The have one of the best lineups in baseball. They’re deep there now, especially with Kingery being on board right out of the chute. The bullpen is improved and the starting rotation includes quality in Aaron Nola and the potential for something more in Arrieta.
Am thinking positive – 86-76, with a legit run at the postseason … that falls just short.
Champs? The Cubs capture their second crown in three years.