Sports-fan wise, this has always been my favorite time of year.
How can I feel any other way, considering the fact that baseball has been my favorite sport and my sport of expertise, having either played it, coached it, or been involved with it in some way for more than half of my life.
This site has featured quite a few articles regarding the two major league baseball franchises that call the Los Angeles area home; (just north of) Downtown L.A.’s Dodgers and Orange County’s Angels.
Much has been said as far as prognostications, analysis, and developing news of these two teams, and being that baseball is my sport, I reckon it’s time to contribute my one-and-a-half cents as to how I see the season unfolding for Don Mattingly‘s and Mike Scioscia‘s clubs.
So here we go, starting with the:
LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM
No one in their right mind will judge a team based on their first two games, even after a bad omen like hitting coach and Angel legend Don Baylor breaking his leg while catching the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day.
And I certainly refuse to do such, but…
Based by what I have seen, with these Angels being outscored by the Seattle Mariners 18-6 so far, unless the ship is righted – and fast – this could be a long season for them.
“Weaver and Wilson and we’ll see.”
That certainly pertains to the Halos’ other starters, Garret Richards, Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs, young guys with much potential but who are unproven.
As well as the bullpen, which features closer Ernesto Frieri and a bunch of no-names.
If the Angels are to contend in an American League West where every team save for the Houston Astros is capable of winning that division, they need for that potential to turn into performance.
As for their hitting, owner Arte Moreno came through in the biggest way when he gave Mike Trout what he SO deserved, signing the uber-stud to a six-year extension worth $144.5 million.
If Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton stay healthy and return to their hall-of-fame level forms, that will form a more-than-good-trifecta threat at the plate with Trout that will score runs and keep the Halos in games.
To sum all of this up, the fate of these Angels in 2014 will rest on how they do on the mound; if the young guys do well, they’ll contend.
If they don’t, they won’t.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
While it’s great that this team has three wins under their belt already, thanks to their two-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Sydney Cricket Grounds in Australia in March and their win over the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on Tuesday…
Thank goodness that Wilson was merely insurance for closer Kenley Jansen, as although “The Beard” was the set-up man the Dodger bullpen should be fine because of their depth.
As for Kershaw, however, Dodger fans are shuddering after the announcement that the two-time Cy Young Award winner, who signed the biggest contract for a pitcher in history – seven years, $215 million – will participate in a throwing program for two to three weeks, then will be reevaluated.
In other words, his injury, which was thought to be minor could be much more serious as people have said that he could miss all of April.
I’m sure that fans are praying that it’s only two weeks, because you don’t have a super ace like Kershaw go down and not have it affect you in some way.
Meanwhile, as everybody knows by now nearly everyone is saying that the National League West is the Dodgers’ to win, and they are serious contenders to represent the N.L. in the World Series.
With a payroll at an MLB-record $235 million, surpassing the New York Yankees to become the top team in that area for the first time in 15 years, glorious accomplishments are expected in Chavez Ravine this year.
Personally, I think the Dodgers will go as far as the health of Kershaw, Matt Kemp - who is scheduled to make his season debut at the the home opener against the San Francisco Giants on Friday – Hanley Ramirez, and everyone else will take them.
How Yasiel Puig matures as a big league player is also a key factor to the Dodgers’ fortunes, as he has already had a clear-the-air meeting with Mattingly and several veterans like Adrian Gonzalez during spring training, which addressed behavior and attitude issues that concerned them.
If Puig settles down as a player, he can easily do what he did when he first came up last June – carry the club.
As could Kemp if his leg problems prove to be behind him.
The most disappointing thing about this team is the fact that 70% of the Los Angeles area, including myself, is not able to watch this team on TV due to the Dodgers’ new channel, Sports Net LA, at an impasse with the different carriers like Direct TV as far as making a deal.
That means that except for the time when the Dodgers are on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast, I have to do something that my grandparents did to get their fill of the great Vin Scully - listen to them on the radio.
Or go to Dodger Stadium.
The bottom line here is, if they stay healthy and things work out just right, these Dodgers could well be playing (perhaps) the Detroit Tigers or the Boston Red Sox in the World Series.
In the meantime, there’s a whole season to play.