It is that time of the year once again.
The days are getting longer, the sun is coming out from behind the clouds, the air feels clean and baseball is back.
There is something about the constant revolving door that is the sports agenda that gives me goosebumps as a fan… The Masters in April, the Super Bowl, The Finals and MLB Opening Day are just a few occasions with the powers to get somebody a little bit more excitement in their daily life.
Baseball is a game of craft and perfection, as well as resilience and grit. It is a game where many find relaxation and peace.
Think back to the last time you were able to take in a live ball game, whether it was a local youth team, a Vancouver Canadians game at the Nat or the big leagues. You most likely have no clue what the score was, heck, you may not even know who won, but what you do know is that you enjoyed every moment.
— MLB Vault (@MLBVault) April 1, 2021
The breezy matinee matchups with some warm peanuts or a showdown under the lights on a summer night, the great game of baseball provides an experience that everybody enjoys.
A BOUNCE BACK FOR BASEBALL –
On Thursday, we set sail on a brand-new season in Major League Baseball.
Coming off a 2020 campaign that was introduced to a worldwide pandemic right at the get-go, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has a fresh slate for 2021 and has stated that it will be an overall bounce-back year for the teams and league as a whole.
2020 was a sixty-game sprint from start to finish, therefore leading to an absurd financial hit for Major League Baseball and its organizations. In what would commonly be a 162 game (81 at home), there was more than $5 billion in lost revenue across the league.
— Francisco Lindor (@Lindor12BC) March 31, 2021
Amongst the teams, the New York Yankees topped the list, with an estimated $437 million in game-day revenue lost compared to what the Yankees might have drawn with fans attending a traditional 81-game home schedule.
2021 will return to its traditional 162 game schedule, with a percentage on maximum stadium capacities for fans, with numbers increasing as vaccination rates do.
This means ‘green light’ for the MLB and baseball as a sport, who have been waiting patiently for a full season with a more relaxed offseason agenda, unlike 2020 when they didn’t even have a collective bargaining agreement in place until COVID hit.
2021 MLB SEASON –
With the return of 162 games, comes the return of the old playoff format. Last season, the MLB adjusted the playoff seeding to allow 16 of the 30 teams to have a chance in the postseason. This year, it is going back to how it always was in normal life.
- 3 American League division winners
- 2 American League wildcards
- 3 National League division winners
- 2 National League wildcards
The offseason brought an immense amount of moving pieces as well as lots of 0’s on cheques. The teams at the top got better and others also made splashes to move into the competitive conversation.
Some of the most notable deals over the offseason included the defending world champion Los Angeles Dodgers bring in flame-throwing starting pitcher Trevor Bauer. With the return of David Price after his opt-out in 2020, and the always steady Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers are poised to be the best team in baseball again… it might not even be that close.
Trevor Bauer and Jose Ramirez had fun during this at-bat between old teammates 😂
— SI MLB (@si_mlb) March 27, 2021
Their California rivals from San Diego also introduced themselves to the acquisition market over the offseason. The Padres brought in a plethora of pitching prowess in Blake Snell, Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove. These two teams’ rotations are enough to stamp them as the elite of the NL, and I fully expect both to eclipse the 100-win mark in 2021.
Lastly, Canada’s team took another step in their pursuit of returning to the big stage. The Toronto Blue Jays went out and had a near-perfect offseason, stacking up on defense and hitting with the likes of George Springer and Marcus Semien. The Jays will be right there with the Yankees for tops in the AL East this year if they can stay healthy and perform well head to head.
KINGS OF THE DIVISIONS –
AL East: NYY
Taking a look now into each division in baseball, there are some races that expect to come right down to the wire, while others appear to be the favorites to lose.
In the AL East, the Blue Jays and Yankees have been mentioned already. Both squads deploy park-leaving power and have solid rotations when healthy. The Tampa Bay Rays come into this season off a World Series loss and also having lost their ace, Blake Snell, in a trade for prospects and cash.
— Yankee Stadium (@yankeestadium) March 31, 2021
While the Boston Red Sox shouldn’t be as bad as people think, I believe the Yankees will be the team that locks up the top spot in the AL East.
AL Central: CWS
This is one of those runaway winners I’m projecting to play out the way it looks on paper. The Chicago White Sox are a team to watch this year, with their young core looking the part and some strong additions in the rotation (Lance Lynn) and bullpen (Liam Hendriks), this team should make easy work of the other teams looking towards down years.
AL West: LAA
I don’t care what any exerts say or think on this one, I’m riding with Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in this division.
The Houston Astros just lost George Springer in free agency, and the cheap yet resilient Oakland A’s got slightly gutted in personnel over the offseason. The Angels have a very good offense and I expect them to be a very tough out every at-bat. It all comes down to their bullpen.
NL East: ATL
Shoutout to my guy Phil Figs, doing live on-air for Evolution 107.9 at BCIT. The Braves are his team and I’m sure he’ll be pleased to know I’m not picking against them.
Atlanta boasts a deep, solid roster inside and out. At the plate, defensively and by way of experience, this team has it all. Although people will forget they were 3 innings and a Will Smith three-run homer away from making the World Series last season, I expect them to be right back there again.
The three-time defending NL East champions play a regular-season baseball game today. pic.twitter.com/NYqshLkzMH
— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) April 1, 2021
The NL East is one of the best divisions, if not the best in all of baseball. The Mets should keep things interesting, with the Phillies and Nationals being possible surprises with solid teams of their own.
NL Central: STL
The pickup of Nolan Arenado is massive for St. Louis who was already a good team last season, making the playoffs. Joining Paul Goldschmidt, this duo will be crushing baseballs and leading a Cards team with unknown potential.
Keep an eye out for Maple Ridge, BC product Tyler O’Neill this season as he enters his fourth MLB season after winning a gold-glove award in 2020.
NL West: LAD
The Dodgers are the second team from the LA area to win a division title in my predictions, they’re just too stacked. The race will be a good one between the Padres and Dodgers for the title, but I can truly say that I will be surprised almost every time the Dodgers lose a game this season, depending on the opponent of course.
Evan Power, Evolution 107.9