1. Friday night Cubs games on European ESPN – For some reason the Cubs were on at 7pm Irish time several Friday’s in a row last season. Great time for baseball, coming home from a long week at the rat race, clicking open a cold beer, slapping the feet up on the coffee table and watch the Cubs against who ever. Always a good time.
2. Beckett/Lackey/Lester – Otherwise known as the front three of the Boston Red Sox rotation. Has Sports Illustrated commissioned its front page of the three lads in sombreros with ‘The three amigos’ as the caption? Surely it’s only a matter of time. The most exciting Red Sox front end of rotation since Pedro, Schill and Lowe. The possibilities here are endless. How many three game losing streaks will the Sox endure with these three guys back to back to back? Over under? 0.5?
3. The first few pictures of CC Sabathia in Yankees training camp - Can he touch 350lbs?
4. The Seattle Mariners – the Mariners are building something potentially special up north. Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee back to back? Goodness gracious. My underdog for the World Series. The Mariners, if they can make the playoffs, will be an absolute nightmare for any team with a 1-2 of Felix and Lee. If you like pitching, you are going to love the Mariners in ’10.
5. Fantasy baseball – Hey, it’s not as dramatic as the football version however for baseball fanatics, fantasy baseball can really add an extra element to the season.
6. Flashing the leather – The Red Sox have a chance to be defensively legendary in ’10. They have an incredible outfield of Ellsbury/Cameron/Drew and a gritty, talented infield of Beltre/Scuttaro/Pedroia/Youkilis. Not many holes there. The superior defence should assist the pitching and mask any offensive inefficiency, if that crops its ugly ’09 head up again. The Sox won’t have to score 10 runs to win this coming season, in fact, 5-6 should do nightly.
7. Hanley Ramirez – if you haven’t had a chance to watch this kid play baseball, make it your business to do so in ’10. Ramirez is a superstar trapped in a small market. Good for the Marlins, bad for his exposure to the masses. The Marlins are an exciting team to watch, however. Some big bats and some great pitching too. If they mature a little they could be a National League sleeper in ’10, particularly it Hanley has anything to do with it.
8. A weekend of baseball – every now and then, as a baseball fan, it’s fun to simply check out from the world for a weekend and immerse yourself in a bunch of games. Say, pick a weekend where there is a good game on Friday evening, a triple header on Saturday and maybe a couple of good ones on Sunday. Stock up on booze and bad (well, good, but, bad, you know what I mean) food and let the good times roll. By Sunday around 4 am you will have a decent beard going, your track pants will be well worn and there will be a large ‘you’ size dent on the sofa. You will be the better man (or woman) for it, however.
9. The Baltimore Orioles ‘lose 100 games’ watch – The Orioles have made no significant additions and are cruising towards yet another season of ineptitude. Buried in the AL East behind the Sox, Rays, Yanks and even Blue Jays, the Orioles could be historically bad in ’10. Can they lose 100 games? They just might! If I am an Orioles fan, I am pretty steaming mad right now that ownership is not at least going down swinging in the murderous back alleys of the AL East.
10. Watching any of the following pitch; Zack Greinke, Tim Lincecum, Josh Johnson, Jon Lester. Justin Verlander, Chris Carpenter, Johan Santana, Josh Beckett, Daniel Bard and finally the outrageous Jon Papelbon. Particularly Lincecum, Lester, Verlander and Bard, my four favourite pitchers to watch. Just an entertaining bunch of athletes. Chicks can have the long ball. Nothing juicier than a one hour fifty four minute, smooth, well pitched game, in my book anyway.
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