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March 21, 2011 | by  | in Features |
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Baseball: Cricket Without Wickets

Some people look forward to their birthday, some to summer, some to finding love and some to finishing that Law degree. Some of us simply look forward to Opening Day.

Opening Day is the day that America’s most famous pastime begins for another season. Though not exceedingly popular here, the day that Baseball returns to TV screens and radio airwaves all across America, is one that is welcomed like a cold beer on a hot day: with relief and satisfaction.

On 31 March, I know what I will be doing. I will be perched in front of ESPN, listening to the patriotic voices of Americans bellow out ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ before the first pitch of the Major League Baseball (MLB) season is thrown, ringing in the promise, potential and hope that comes with a fresh shot
at glory.

I support the Red Sox, who are the Boston based franchise that competes in the American League East Division. Some key things to know about the MLB is that it involves 30 teams split into 2 Leagues which are split again into a total number of 6 Divisions, based on geographic location. They compete in over 162 regular season games and then the playoffs consist of Division and League Championship series, culminating in the Fall Classic or the World Series between the top American and

National League teams. This can seem confusing to the layman, but it is a sport that is driven by numbers and statistics, so can be easily followed by those with the inclination.

Although my oversized foam finger will carry the name of the Red Sox as they take on their arch-enemies the New York Yankees (who you all will recognise because of their distinctive blue and white pinstripe uniforms) there are a number of teams to watch out for this season. Teams who you just might choose to support after being inspired to watch baseball, thanks to this article.

Firstly, you cannot look past the Philadelphia Phillies. A team who should have gone all the way last year have only got stronger in the off season. With the signing of ace starting pitcher Cliff Lee, they boast the single best starting rotation in the game. When others look at their rotation and see the names Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Oswalt, they will wonder where they will pick up a win against them as there seems to be no weak link in their starting pitchers. Consider the fact that they back up those four with the big hitting of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in the heart of the order, and the base running of Shane Victorino at the top and on paper they would seem unbeatable. You would be a fool to bet against this team making another World Series this October.

Another team who boast an impressive starting pitching rotation is the Championship-winning San Francisco Giants. With MVP Tim Lincecum, gritty Matt Cain, and young star Madison Bumgarner, the Giants will be tough to beat. However, they can lack run generation from their hitters and can rely on their starlet pitchers too much—a problem the New York Yankees will not have. With the highest-paid roster in the Majors, if you’re someone who likes to back a team that wins more often than it loses, there is no team better. Look out for pinup boy Alex Rodriguez and their lethal closers, Soriano and Rivera, because they are deadly.

Although most would not have understood too much of what has been said, you now have a quick guide of what to look out for if you ever see a Major League game. You can also use any of these names to sound smart to someone who knows something about baseball, perhaps even making them sound like a dummy with your new found wisdom. If you’re still reading and you’re still thinking “fuck baseball”, you can always watch our own version, which is cricket. I’m picking the South Africans right now, with a de Villiers ton in the final. If I’m right then you read it here first; if not, it probably doesn’t matter, because I have already bored 99 per cent of you readers out of your minds.

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