Could Crazy Offseason Bring MLB Back?
Ever since the turn of the century, perennial powerhouses like the Yankees, Cardinals, and Phillies have dominated baseball. Along with all of those great teams, there have been a handful of horrible ones that have pretty much been an annual shoe-in for last place in the division. This domination has turned many fans off to baseball, as the predictability fueled an overall disinterest. However, over the past few years, baseball has experienced a complete makeover that has been amplified and boosted this week by countless offseason moves throughout the league.
This past season we witnessed the Kansas City Royals sneak into the postseason and make an improbable run all the way to the World Series before being ousted by Madison Bumgarner and the Giants. Before this, the Royals had not made it to the postseason in 28 years, the longest drought in baseball. This run solidified their spot as a contender in a division that has recently been dominated by the Tigers. Staying in the AL Central, the Chicago White Sox made a huge splash this offseason by bringing in a lot of talent. Chicago acquired pitchers Jeff Samardzija and David Robertson, as well as sluggers Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche. Adding to an already solid foundation of Jose Abreu and Chris Sale. After witnessing all of this, the Tigers felt compelled to bolster their offense and did so by acquiring all-star Yoenis Cespedes. These moves are just the tip of the iceberg for this division, and the AL Central is completely up for grabs this season– a nice change of pace, for sure.
Moving south, the St. Louis Cardinals have finished in the top 2 of their division every year since 2009. All this time, the Cubs and Pirates have found themselves on the bottom looking up. Now, these 2 teams have made themselves very competitive and should be taken seriously. The Pirates are lead by MVP Andrew McCutchen who, I shouldn’t have to tell you, is one of the young studs in the league. The lowly Cubs have been woeful for the past century, but finally appear to be turning the corner. The Cubs made arguably the biggest offseason signing, by locking up Jon Lester for 6 years and putting Joe Maddon at the helm. With a plethora of talent in the division, this division is also anyone’s to win. Interesting fact (via the cover of Sports Illustrated): the vegas odds on the Cubs winning the World Series in 2015, pre-John Lester, were 50-1. That day, that he was acquired, they went up to 12-1. Not bad at all.
It has become well known that Baseball has been losing its appeal to all of America, falling further and further behind the NFL annually. There have been many reasons cited as the cause of this, but it very well may be that fans are just giving up on their consistently lousy teams. I can only imagine the determination it must take to root for the Mets. However, with all teams across the league bringing in a multitude of players to improve their rosters, they are undoubtedly becoming more competitive. This competitiveness should provide a much more intriguing regular season, which could be the ingredient baseball has been longing for.
With so many teams loaded with talent, it is virtually impossible to predict the next World Series champion. Every team feels they have a chance to dethrone the Giants as the kings of baseball. The hope will spill over from the organizations straight to the fans. These rejuvenated fans could bring baseball back to the forefront of professional American sports.