BASEBALL’S ALMOST HERE!!

I picked up the Boston Globe on Wednesday of this past week. The sports section had eight pages and, in all eight pages, the word baseball never appeared once and the Patriots were not even in the Super Bowl.

They even had an article about that 23 year old, juvenile, millionaire, Johnny Manziel, and nothing about baseball. Do people really care more about that spoiled brat than they do about a baseball season which starts with pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training two weeks from tomorrow and opens up, for real, in less than two months?

Baseball last year drew 73,760,815 fans to the ball parks and millions more to television and radio. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who have not even been in a World Series in 28 years, drew an average of 46,479 fans per game.

For the REAL baseball fan, this is the worst time of the year. Kind of the lull before the storm. Not much news. Most of the Free Agents have been signed and the deals have been made and not much will happen until the teams get to Florida and Arizona.

The experts are saying the American League is particularly well balanced this year and that almost any of the fifteen teams could be a winner. Of course, here in New England, we are more interested in the Eastern Division than the rest of the league. I still think that will come down to Yankees against the Red Sox in a really close race.

Some good news and some bad news from the Yankees this past week. The good news is they apparently realize that, although they have possibly the strongest back end of the bull pen in baseball with Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, they still need to strengthen the middle of the pen and are actively pursuing relievers like Carlos Torres from the Mets who became a Free Agent this week. If the Yankees have a weak point other than their advanced age and uncertain health, it is the bullpen.

The bad new is that they have lost Greg Bird, their 24 year old backup first baseman and possible designated hitter, for the season. Bird, who hit .261 with 11 homers and 31 RBI’s last year in just 46 games and 157 at bats, has a torn labrum in his right shoulder which will keep him out for the season.

With Mark Teixeira, their regular first baseman turning 36, Bird was expected to get a lot of playing time this year. Teixeira, in addition to being 36, has had significant injury problems in recent years, averaging just 93 games per year for the last four years. Texeira performed well last year, hitting 31 homers and driving in 79 runs, but played in just 111 games. In addition to his hitting, he is one of the best fielding first basemen in the game but his tendency to get hurt, and not recover quickly, could be a problem with Bird unavailable.

For those of you Red Sox fans who will be in the Boston area, the truck with all the team equipment for Spring Training leaves Fenway on this Wednesday. Truck Day has become an event in Boston as many fans turn out for this first real sign that Spring Training is around the corner and the Red Sox make a big deal out of it.

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