Let’s play ball

Major League Baseball season begins with various teams on the rise


The stadium stood for the national anthem before the game between the Minnesota Twins faced the Kansas City Royals on Monday, April 3, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn. Photo by Jeff Wheeler, courtesy of MCT Campus.

Story by John Morgan, staff writer

Peanut shells are cracked and thrown on the floor. Caps of various colors and styles are on display around the marvelous venue. Fans stand on their feet and sing a timeless classic in the seventh inning stretch.

After months of winter, Major League Baseball is finally back and in full swing. While some modifications to the game have been made in the offseason, fans of the American pastime are eager and prepared to head out to the ballpark, eat some Cracker Jack and root for their teams.

This season might seem unusual at first, for it is the first in 108 years that the Chicago Cubs do not hold the longest championship drought in baseball. Led by a core of young talent and a veteran rotation, the Cubs posted the best record in regular season this past season. The supposed curse that haunted the team was lifted when they defeated the Cleveland Indians, who now hold the longest drought, in Game 7 of the World Series.

The teams that rank second and third in the drought category both happen to come from the same region and hope to finally bring a Commissioner’s Trophy to the Lone Star State. The Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, both of whom compete in the American League West division, are revamped and look to be premier title contenders this season.

The Rangers are coming off of a division crown hoping to avenge their loss in the divisional round of the playoffs. Infielders Rougned Odor and Adrian Beltre are both coming off of sensational years and could possibly be in the running for the AL MVP.

It won’t be an easy path for the Rangers, however, for the other Texas team hopes to advance to the World Series themselves. Driven by younger players such as shortstop Carlos Correa and outfielder George Springer and veterans like second baseman Jose Altuve and designated hitter Carlos Beltran, the Astros could easily spoil the Rangers’ party and capture their first AL West title. A stronger rotation could be the only thing keeping the Astros from being the most complete team in baseball.

Several notable championship contenders look to stand in the way of a Lone Star title. In the American League, the Indians–who blew a 3-1 lead in the World Series–look to avenge their meltdown in the postseason and seem primed to do so after adding slugger Edwin Encarnacion and retaining most of their championship roster. The Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners also have potential to prevent a Texas team from advancing to the championship.

Many baseball analysts believe that the Chicago Cubs have the best chance of keeping the Astros or Rangers out of the World Series. Reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant and the rest of the Cubs’ foundation look to win back-to-back championships and erase painful memories of the long title drought that had plagued them in the past. Their path will certainly be no picnic, as the Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers will surely attempt to return Chicago’s curse.

Various exciting storylines will be on display this season for fans of all thirty teams to come down to the ballpark and witness. No matter who walks away with the Commissioner’s Trophy, one thing all baseball junkies can agree on: “It’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out, at the old ball game!”