Monday, April 14, 2014

What to Take Away From the First Weeks of the 2014 MLB Season

The moment millions of fans waited for took place just a couple of weeks ago, and that was the opening day of the 2014 Major League Baseball season, which took place in Australia. The day is so beloved that former-Cardinals' great Ozzie Smith partnered with Budweiser and made a petition to have Opening Day become a national holiday. As the season rolls through, many different headlines emerge out of the shadows, some for better, and some for worse. Here are a few things that can be taken away after the first two full weeks of this season:
  • Instant replay is just as controversial as umpires making judgement calls. Before the start of the 2014 season, an expanded instant replay system was added into the MLB's Collective Bargaining Agreement. This new system has added in the ability to review whether balls are trapped by a diving outfielder, balls that are fair or foul, along with the already instated home run replay. The new agreement also added challenges for the manager to use, having one challenge before the sixth inning, and up to two after the seventh. As with most new systems, there will kinks when it is first used, and not everybody will be a fan of what it does. The biggest opponent so far may be Red Sox manager John Farrell, who was ejected in a game versus the Yankees for arguing with the inconsistency of the rulings made due to replay. Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams also is having a difficult time with the replay system, losing two challenges in a game against the Braves that would cost them the game.
  • Sometimes pitching can be worth more than offense. Case and point; The Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers were on the bottom of the NL Central totem pole last year, and their biggest offseason addition was having Ryan Braun reinstated after being suspended for steroid use.  But the big story out of Milwaukee is how lights out the pitching staff and bullpen have been so far. In the total 110 innings the team has pitched, they have only given up 22 runs, sporting a very nice 1.80 team ERA. The bullpen is anchored by former All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez, who is 4 for 4 in save opportunities, while being part of a group of four Milwaukee relievers who have yet to give up a run. The Atlanta Braves, who have lost four starters to the disabled list, are also seeing promise from a group of unheralded guys.    
  • Locking up your young stars is the cool thing to do. Major League Talent is starting to come from younger and younger players every year, making it more likely for a player to sign a contract extension in their early-to-mid twenties. Most recently, the Padres signed their 25-year-old second baseman Jedd Gyorko to a six year deal. Other six-year deals that have been signed include the Indian locking up Jason Kipnis, the Rays and Chris Archer, the Braves and Chris Archer, and most notably (and the richest contract) the Angels and Mike Trout. With other young stars nearing arbitration, such as the Manny Machado of the Orioles and Wil Myers of the Rays, more large deals could be in the near future. 
With just about 150 games remaining in the regular season, there is still a whole summer of twists and turns to happen. New players being signed or traded, new names being placed on the disabled list with a season-ending injury, and new faces being put to shame after failing a drug test. It is all a surprise, but as years passed, 2014 will not be a disappointing year for baseball.

Bennett Schiff is a freshman in the Drexel Sport Management program, and one of the few members of the major from the powerful state of Rhode Island. He has volunteered for the U.S. Open of Squash held at Drexel as well as becoming a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity. Prior to arriving on Drexel's campus, Schiff was very active in his local community with his synagogue.

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