Thursday, March 26, 2020

30 Things I Was Looking Forward to Seeing on Opening Day 2020

Baseball should be happening right now.

If there weren't a pandemic swirling around the world right now, I'd be watching the first Yankee game of the year with my dad, acting like everything was as it should be. That's clearly not the world we're living in right now, and we might have to wait another month or so until we get the 2020 baseball season started.

...but if any day in the last few months of offseason was painful just being without baseball, the following few weeks will be even tougher. There's still a lot that needs to be done before players go out for the season, possibly more weeks of training of sorts, and we may not get that for a while. Any chance of a normal season has been lost.

Which sucks, because if 2020 were a normal baseball season, I would have loved to see so many things for the first time today.

So, as a way of sharing the entirety of the 2020 spring training customs, I thought I'd share a list of 30 things I would have loved fro see on Opening Day 2020, wishes for a season that may never happen as planned.

1. Anthony Rendon batting after Mike Trout in Anaheim. And if that got this team any further into the playoffs than Trout alone had gotten them.

2. The Astros' response to being caught red-handed in 2019. Would they sink to the bottom of the standings after being found out? Would they continue dominance? Would it affect the pitching in any way?

3. How Khris Davis would factor into the youth-driven 2020 A's lineup, and if he'd have returned to his 2010s numbers or fallen behind the Chapman-Olson combo. Does he have another .247 season left in him?

4. How far the Blue Jays can go now that they have a substantial pitching rotation. With Ryu, Chase Anderson and Tanner Roark, in addition to the monster youth movement, would they scare away AL East rivals any more than in 2019?

5. If Will Smith finally figures out a way to fix the Braves' rotation woes. Or if it takes more than just getting the best veteran relievers from all over and actually calling up good relief prospects.

6. Which direction the Milwaukee Brewers are headed. Either they're still competitive, and losing Grandal, Moose and Davies hasn't hurt them, or they're headed for fourth.

7. If Jack Flaherty is the potential Opening Day starter ace the Cardinals have been looking for to replace Adam Wainwright. His 2019 season was fantastic, but is it all he has in him?

8. If the Chicago core that gave us playoff squads for a few straight years has another playoff run in them, even with new manager Grandpa Rossy filling the shoes of Joe Maddon. Willson Contreras looks ready for another run, even if all it gets him is another All-Star nod.

9. If the problems Madison Bumgarner was having in the past few years (higher ERAs chiefly) were predominantly caused by pitching for failing Giants teams. If MadBum has a huge year in 2020, if and when it starts, it will have been the Giants', and Bochy's, fault. If not, the Diamondbacks just spent a lot of money on a risk.

10. If David Price has any strong material left in him, despite being the asterisk of the Mookie Betts deal. I genuinely think he's in for strong numbers in 2020, but it's up to him to prove me right.

11. If the last half of 2019 was a fluke for San Francisco, and their decision to double down on older players will count them out of the division race. As much as I love Hunter Pence, his place in the lineup might mean another year of tanking for the Giants.

12. If the new additions to the fold in Cleveland have any shot at keeping the flame going. Subsequently, if Francisco Lindor continues to put out during what may be his final season as a member of the Tribe.

13. If the Mariners look at all good or self-sustaining before the inevitable late-season callup of Jarred Kelenic. Or if Kyle Seager will finally accept his role as the defacto leader in Seattle.

14. If the small-ball the Marlins have decided to play in 2020 will pay any dividends, especially for people like Jorge Alfaro, Miguel Rojas and Sandy Alcantara, who could be good July trade bait if the team will fail to compete yet again.

15. How long it takes Marcus Stroman to find the strike zone again. Unless Stroman gets his shit together, the big Mets-Jays deal of 2019 may continue not to mean anything until Anthony Kay gets to start games again in Toronto.

16. Washington's strategy of keeping the elder members of their 2019 World Series squad around, and whether or not it pays off. As nice as it will be to see Eric Thames, Howie Kendrick, Asdrubal Cabrera, Kurt Suzuki and Ryan Zimmerman getting playing time in 2020, does it mean that the youth movement the team had banked on in 2019 is fraying a bit?

17. If the Orioles will finally figure out a way to not lose 100 games in a season. The new combo of Renato Nunez, Hanser Alberto and Anthony Santander holding up the lineup is intriguing, but is it enough?

18. If THIS is finally the offseason that makes it happen for the Padres. Cause I'm half-asking what else it's gonna take? They've gotten Eric Hosmer, Manny Machado, a call-up for Fernando Tatis and Chris Paddack, and now Tommy Pham, Zach Davies and export Pierce Johnson. Will THIS be the team? Please?

19. What it will take for J.T. Realmuto and the Phillies to stop beating around the bush and sign an extension. JT loves Philly, Philly loves JT, and I'd hate THIS to be his last season here.

20. If old Chris Archer will finally show up in Pittsburgh. He's cut his hair, reworked some mechanics, and is looking to get his prior numbers back. Will this give the Bucs the ace material they'd wanted, or will they have to just use Joe Musgrove?

21. If a contending Texas Rangers team can exist with Rougned Odor continuing to bat under .200. Even with Kluber, Frazier, Lyles and Gibson, they'll need Rougned Odor to get his stuff together, or else there's no point.

22. How long the first Rays game of the year lasts before the inevitable 'YOSHI' chants from the Tampa fans. Or some Mario-Bros motif on the scoreboards. It's not a matter of IF the Rays populace falls in love with this guy, but WHEN.

23. If the Red Sox without Mookie Betts, David Price OR Chris Sale is worth the price of admission in 2020. Even with the majority of the killer B's still intact, will the AL East have ANY trouble with this team?

24. How long it will be until the Reds' offseason gamble pays dividends. Seeing Nick Castellanos, Yoshi Akiyama, Mike Moustakas, Pedro Strop and Wade Miley on this roster is one thing, but will this overstuffing work? Will a Reds team that seems so much fun in concept pay off kinetically?

25. Jon Gray and German Marquez' efforts to keep an ERA below 3 in Coors Field. How far will they get? Will their OTHER numbers suffer?

26. The triumphant return of Salvador Perez to Kauffman Field. How soon does he get back to his ASG-caliber numbers? Is he still one of the best catchers in baseball?

27. How much of the Tigers is capable of staying around once the callups start happening. Riley Greene and Casey Mize are gonna come up eventually. It's just a matter of what this team can accomplish before they do. Will Matt Boyd make it to July before being gobbled up by a contender?

28. The number of BOMBAS in the first Twins game of the year. How many will Garver, Sano, Rosario, Donaldson, Cave, Cruz and Kepler manage?

29. How well guys like Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito do given a team that seems to be consistently good. Will any pale given respectable balanced talent? Will Luis Robert, Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel bury some great Sox trying to happen?

30. If Gerrit Cole can stay healthy as a Yankee, AND if he can continue to hit 300 strikeouts. Cause if so, we're in business.

Hopefully I'll get the answers to those questions soon. Not sure how much longer without baseball I'll be able to stand.

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