Less than two weeks until the 2009 regular season begins. I’m so ready! Spring is here (although you wouldn’t know it by the temperature), and that means it’s time for baseball games to actually count for something other than just a warm-up. The Yankees have just 8 more spring training games left to play, before they open their season against the Orioles in Baltimore on April 6th. The Nationals have 9 spring training games to go before getting their season underway in Florida against the Marlins, also on the 6th. I’m excited about the regular season getting underway for both of my teams, though for very different reasons.
After missing postseason play in 2008, for the first time in 15 years, the Yankees went on a spending spree over the winter, signing A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia, and Mark Teixeira. As a result, expectations are very high for the Yankees this season. The front office, the fans, the media fully expect the team to at the very least go deep into the postseason this year, if not win the World Series. Really, anything less than a World Series win will be a disappointment. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a successful season for the Yankees. Because of the high expectations for the Yankees, rooting for them this
season will be a stressful endeavor…even more so than usual. I will celebrate each win and bemoan each loss. Depending on how they fare on any given day, I will either declare my undying love for Sabathia, Teixeira, Jeter, Chamberlain, et al, or curse the day they were born. With a bit of luck, not only will the Yankees win the World Series, but I will still have a full head of hair by November because the Yankees will not have made me pull my hair out!
And then there are the Nationals. After losing 102 games in 2008 — more than any other team in the majors — the Nationals will be a better team this season…I am reasonably confident about that. However, unlike my expectations for the Yankees, I do not have high expectations for the Nationals; I don’t envision a dramatic turnaround this season, resulting in being involved in the pennant race. I’m hoping the Nats can climb out of the NL East cellar…I’d be happy with a 4th place finish and ecstatic with a 3rd place finish. I’m looking forward to a variety of things where the Nats are concerned. Will Jordan Zimmermann continue to pitch well once he begins facing lineups full of major leaguers, as opposed to spring training lineups with a mix of major and minor leaguers? Will Adam Dunn continue his five-year streak of hitting at least 40 home runs in a season? Will Ryan Zimmerman finally win a Gold Glove? Will Teddy finally win a Presidents Race at Nationals Park? Will the Nationals PR people finally realize that the “Sweet Caroline” sing-along is a rip-off of a Fenway Park tradition and get rid of that awful song? Because I won’t be freaking out over each Nationals loss, I’ll certainly be more relaxed watching the Nats than watching the Yankees. And because of that, I actually may end up enjoying the Nats season more, or at least as much, as the Yankees season.
Bring on the regular season!
P.S. A little bit of trivia — do you know, off the top of your head, who was the last Yankees pitcher (starter or reliever) to win a World Series game?
EDIT: OK, you don’t have to know off the top of your head…feel free to look up who was the last Yankees pitcher to win a World Series game! Hint: it’s probably not someone you’d expect…..