Thursday, March 30, 2023

2023: Now With More Rules


The good news is the MLB season is actually starting on time this year. The bad news is it's been slightly meddled with.

I don't know if my lukewarm-ness on some of the new MLB rules is just because I don't want to give Rob Manfred the benefit of the doubt, or because I don't like change at all, but it's been hard to see so many posts by official MLB accounts, and even ESPN saying 'THE NEW RULES ARE GOOD. YOU CAN LIKE THE NEW RULES.' It goes back to the very end of the last MLB season when they had a reporter get on the air to basically tell us that the Astros winning the World Series was a good thing. The league has been propagandizing too much recently, and trying to control the narrative by getting actual MLB players and managers, as well as celebrities like Bryan Cranston and Sebastian Maniscalco, to approve of the changes made to the game. And that feels a bit fake to me, but whatever.

There is baseball to be played, and it's a very exciting-looking season, with the stakes still very high for so many teams I enjoy, and no shortage of potential great teams waiting to strike. I already know I'm gonna be making a game in the Bronx this year, and I can only imagine I'll hit a match or two in South Philly at some point. Like I'm prone to, here are 5 BOLD PREDICTIONS for the 2023 season:

1. Adley Rutschman is the new Buster Posey. I just get a similar vibe from him, and he seems to have similar well-balanced prowess both in front of and behind the plate. Moreover, The Orioles are making the playoffs this year. It's happening. Regardless of how the AL East race goes, and if the Rays do, in fact, drop a bit as many people think they well, the O's are gonna sneak in and make a serious run at things. Henderson's starting the year at short, Hall and Hernandez are probably gonna be in shortly, there are some much-needed reinforcements in the form of people like Kyle Gibson and Adam Frazier, and the team feels so much more put together than even in the stretch last year. I hope they can accomplish something great, and I hope Rutschman gets rewarded for it.

2. Shohei Ohtani's winning another MVP. In the season directly before one can only assume the two-way monolith becomes a free-agent, Shohei Ohtani is going to dominate in both aspects of play in a way that will rival his MVP season in 2021. He's already been improving as a pitcher every season since the surgery, perhaps he even wins a Cy Young as well. But he'll be 28, which is an important prime year for any player, and I think he's gonna go bigger, even if, rationally, the Angels might not exactly.

3. The Dodgers and Astros aren't winning the West this year. The Dodgers you can honestly guess, they have less big pieces, their big stars are injured in the rotation, it's gonna be harder for them to play the regular game when looking more human, and the Padres exist and are going bigger. But the Astros not winning the AL West is a bolder claim, especially seeing as they just won a ring. Logically, though, they're down a few more big pieces, including Verlander and Gurriel, and they're starting the season with some other big pieces injured, like Altuve and McCullers. I also don't think Jose Abreu is gonna give them what they want, nor do I think that Alex Bregman is gonna fill the void that Altuve's leaving. This team might not succeed initially, and might not succeed ultimately, let alone how the Mariners are gonna do. I just think this might be the season that the regime changes, and hopefully I'm right.

4. Usually around here I predict a Cy Young race. Two years ago I nailed Corbin Burnes, despite the fact that Zack Wheeler deserved the gold. Last year I was way off with Walker Buehler, as he got hurt pretty soon into things. So this year I'm honestly not sure. I'll just do a ballsy one, just on account of last season, Logan Gilbert for AL Cy Young. Even if logically Castillo has a better shot.

5. The Yankees will make the World Series for the first time in 14 years. People have liked to go 'oh, if the Yankees are so good how come they've gone this long without a World Series', well if you expand the playoffs so that it's not the top 3 or 4 best teams, and lesser teams can build momentum, then of course the Yankees aren't gonna win as often. You can honestly argue that the playoffs were expanded to prevent dynasties like the Yankees, and Astros, from happening. I do think they'll make it this year, just on account of what weapons they're dealing with and how many other divisions seem inferior by comparison. As for who they'll play...yeah, probably San Diego. But that's just eyeballing things.

And now, a little bit easier, 5 Predictions for April 2023:

1. Fernando Tatis' forgiveness tour doesn't quite take off. Tatis has a new position, and a new lease on the game, but he's surrounded by people who've succeeded more recently than he and he's now got even more pressure to do well. And I don't think it's gonna happen immediately. 

2. A big team that won't succeed by the end of the year will have a huge start and bowl everybody over. My money is on the Rangers. Maybe they do end up figuring it out, but I think things will click immediately and that will create a lot of false hope. And then in May, hey guess what, deGrom's arm is sore again.

3. Trea Turner's tour of the surrounding areas of major league stadiums will continue, at least for the first half of April. Obviously, SOME of Turner's WBC mojo is gonna wear off, but the home run hitting will give the Phils a boost in the first portion of the season before Turner focuses more on contact. 

4. Jordan Walker is going to get eyes upon him immediately, in a good way. I don't know if he's THE Rookie of the Year, but he's certainly gonna have the best April of his class.

5. Some aspect of the new rules draws controversy during a game.

That's at least some half-hearted predictions, let's see how this season goes.

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