Apr 122017

Moral victory for the Yankees yesterday: they did not play. They made up 25% of their deficit toward first place, way to go!

Meanwhile the Angels pulled off a feat that I believe to be a first in ML history: they won back-to-back games in which they trailed by 5+ runs going into the bottom-of-the-ninth. They scored 7 runs (and counting, sort of) to turn a 9-3 deficit into a 10-9 walk-off win, and then turned a 5-0 deficit into a 5-5 tie which they won in 10. Elias reports that no one had trailed by 5 or more in the seventh inning of back-to-back games and come back to win for some 20 years, but the seventh is MUCH easier than the ninth. Cool, huh?

The Mets, in their entire history, have only hit 7 home runs in a single game three times, the last being yesterday in Philadelphia. The other two were ALSO in Philadelphia. I guess the ballpark and the team are direct factors!

Today the Yankees are bringing up Jordan Montgomery to start against Tampa Bay at home. This is a deviation from the plan that had no 5th starter until the 16th, and will be the major league debut for Montgomery. The change is due in part to the two pitchers coming up: Tanaka has labored in both starts, and was lights out last year on 5 days rest, and Sabathia was much sharper in his first outing than in his second (though he won both) and might also benefit from an extra day. I assume this means that Chad Green gets the April 16 start (Montgomery and Green were both lined up to pitch that day) and that Montgomery will likely return to Scranton regardless of how well he pitches. But perhaps not – with this delay I think Severino may line up to pitch on the 16th, and so Montgomery/Green would get the 17th, so Jordan could just stay up and pitch that day.

In the aforementioned 6-5 Angels win, Mike Trout drove in the tying run in the ninth, giving him 8 on the season and enabling him to catch noted RBI-specialist Ronald Torreyes, the Yankees’ utility infielder and 9th batter (with Didi injured). Of course Trout has played an extra game, so Torreyes RBI/game are still better!

Historical note: the Yankees all-time best regular season came in 1998, when they won 114 games. In THAT season, they also started out on the road, and they were an identical 1-4 after 5 games, and won their next two to be 3-4. So this team is almost exactly tracking the 1998 team (that team was actually 0-3, while this one was 1-2). Of course, this team better keep winning if they want to keep up the parallel: the 1998 team may have been 1-4, but they were also 15-5!

Every team in baseball now has at least two losses, and every division except the NL East has a division leader with 2 losses (the AL Central has two, tied for the lead).

Most improbable start: the Arizona Diamondbacks are 7-2 and +17 in runs. Perhaps even more improbable is the Cincinnati Reds at 6-2 and +18. Enjoy it while you can!

I love this game!

Does Not Bode Well

Posted by Baseball Bob at 12:01
Apr 102017

Early season stats are so much fun! For example, Matt Holliday currently projects to draw 216 walks (and to think Barry Bonds actually DID that one season!). But perusing the Yankee early stats, things do not bode well for the team:

Current RBI leader is utility infielder and 9th place hitter Ronald Torreyes with 7. No one else has more than 4. He is also the triples leader and tied for the HR lead (both with 1).

They haven’t won a game all year not started by CC Sabathia – so this projects them to be 32-130 (unless he gets hurt!)

The Yankees have a RELIEF PITCHER who qualifies for the ERA title – this can’t be good. Of course he (Adam Warren) is tied for the LEAD in the ERA race (0.00) so that isn’t ALL bad.

Sanchez (OPS+ 39) and Bird (OPS+ -14) are both hurt – as low as their current numbers are, this can only help! The third Baby Bomber, Judge, had a big day Sunday to raise his BA to .211, though he is now league average (OPS+ 101) and made a great catch for the 27th out so maybe he is on the way.

They play the Rays Today, Wednesday and Thursday. Tampa is off to its best start ever (5-2) – never before have they won 5 of their first 7 games! TB won 2 of 3 from NY to start the year, and this series Sabathia will not pitch, so this could be trouble! Today’s lineup will include Chris Carter (OPS+ 9!) and Austin Romine (OPS+ 72) in place of Bird and Sanchez.

Of course, there are upsides: Matt Holliday (with his 8 walks, FIVE of them yesterday) has an OBP of .538 and an OPS+ of 217. If he can do THAT we may be all right.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in baseball, my long-time favorite LDS player, Jeremy Guthrie, making what may well be his final ML start on Saturday, gave up 10 runs in 2/3 of an inning and was designated for assignment. This move is presumably to get him off the 40-man roster, but it may also be to give him his release, as he doesn’t appear to have it anymore.

The Diamondbacks overcame a 9-3 Giants lead in the bottom of the ninth, scoring 7 runs for the win. And if it were the TOP of the ninth, they could still be batting . . .

The best records in baseball belong to the Diamondbacks (6-1), the Twins (5-1) and the Orioles (4-1). Everyone who predicted that, please raise your hand. I thought so.

I love this game! I’d love it more if the Yankees could win some games, though.

Big Losers

Posted by Baseball Bob at 11:33
Apr 092017

After a week of play, the Yankees are 1-4 and both Sanchez and Bird are hurt – what a great start! The only decent start by a starting pitcher is by Sabathia, which is not likely to be a repeatable phenomenon, and Tanaka, by far the most reliable starter, has looked bad twice (though the second start looks great compared to the first one!). It looks like the prognosticators were right and I was wrong. Of course, it is only 5 games, so I am not quite ready to throw in the towel on the season just yet. Still, when your RBI leader is your #9 hitter, who is only playing at all because of an injury, well, you could be in some trouble.

So I am not going to talk about that. I was thinking to myself “now that the Cubs won the World Series, which team’s fans have the claim to be the most long-suffering. THEN I remembered an article by Bill James from 2010 which attempted to quantify this (I can’t figure out how to do hyperlinks, but if you want to read the article search “Bill James misery index”. The article is lots of fun, mostly detailing the most miserable fans through the years, and the Cubs don’t actually qualify, by his measure.

But I thought I would calculate it for all current teams, and see what it gives us. The number measures how big a loser the team is, the bigger the number the more loser the team.

287 Pirates

202 Rockies

163 Brewers

158 Astros, Padres

155 Marlins

143 Reds

131 Twins

128 Diamondbacks

124 Mariners

98 Phillies

95 Orioles

78 White Sox

63 Braves

53 A’s

46 Rays

41 Tigers

16 Mets

15 Angels, Nationals

5 Red Sox

2 Indians

0 Yankees, Blue Jays, Royals, Rangers, Cubs, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants

This doesn’t FIT with our concept of the most disappointing teams, which of course it isn’t trying to calculate. It ONLY figures wins and losses and losing or winning seasons, and thus is trying to measure “tradition of losing”. The Pirates had a LONG tradition of losing, and their score cleared 600 after 20 consecutive losing seasons, so their recent success has whittled away at that mountain but has not yet obliterated it. A World Series win automatically resets your score to zero, but the Cubs were NOT at the top of the list before winning: If they had LOST the WS their loser score would have been 90 (and the Indians would have been zero).

I would like to rework this formula to include adding score for missing the playoffs (even with a winning record) and reductions for making the postseason, and also for postseason series wins. I may not do it, though: it is perhaps more work than it is worth.

C’mon Yankees. Make me proud. Or at least less cringing.

 

First Win

Posted by Baseball Bob at 13:58
Apr 052017

Well, the Yankees won their first game today, so 0-162 is now off the table. After Tanaka was unhittable (ONE earned run all spring) he was bombed in the opener. After CC Sabathia was bombed all spring, he pitched 5 scoreless innings (only 3 hits, two of them infield dribblers). After Bird, Judge and Sanchez lit up the skies with home runs all spring, the first Yankee HR went to Ronald Torreyes, their number 9 hitter only playing due to Gregorius’ injury. Halladay got an RBI on a double which is an out IN EVERY OTHER MAJOR LEAGUE PARK: it hit the dome and bounced crazily (the dome, oddly, is in play but doesn’t count as a wall or the grass; catch it and it’s an out. Headly, who didn’t hit a HR until May 15 or drive in a run in April last season, also homered. The bullpen turned in another 4 IP of scoreless baseball, now 9.1 in two games. Go Yankees!

Other fun stuff happened, too, but I really don’t have time; I just wanted to keep up posting every day. I hope to have more time tomorrow.

I have a theory that the 2017 Red Sox are not going to be as good as everyone thinks that they are. Full disclosure: as a Yankee fan, I truly WANT this to be true, so it is altogether possible that I am just whistling in the wind. Still, I have my reasons, and I wanted to get them down before the Red Sox play too many games.

My thinking is this: the Red Sox have too much left-handed pitching. Yes, I know that it is mostly REALLY GOOD left-handed pitching: David Price and Christ Sale are two of the best. But Fenway Park is not a good place for left-handed pitchers to ply their craft.

How to quantify this? Well, it isn’t easy, at least from the sources available to me. Fenway is a hitter’s paradise, especially for right-handed power hitters and left-handed high-average hitters. The Green Monster is unique, so Fenway is unique. Most teams play better at home than on the road, as the home team wins 55% of all MLB games. The Red Sox through their history tend to do better than that, at least the good teams do (I didn’t look up the Home-Road splits of 70 win teams).

So the home-field advantage (most teams hit AND pitch better at home than away) is mostly off-set, for pitchers, by the ballpark. Looking at a number of Home/Road pitching splits for the Red Sox, the ERA tends to be up-and-down – I think it is on average about the same. But, of course, the HITTING stats go off the charts at home, and the Sox win at Fenway A LOT.

What I DON’T have is Home/Road stats for left-handed pitchers separately. I can get them for individual pitchers, but adding that all up for multiple seasons is just too much work. What I devised is a VERY skimpy short cut – I will give you the NUMBER of starts by left-handed pitchers and the home/road splits in record and ERA for those seasons. This may give us some idea of whether or not it hurts you to have a lot of left-handed starting pitchers when you are the Red Sox. The seasons I chose were those in the past 50 years in which the Red Sox won 95 games. As mentioned above, I am not wondering whether a mediocre Sox team with mediocre pitching should avoid lefties (though I think they should!) but rather a team that aspires to greatness might be held back by too many games started by lefties.

Here is the list, columns are year, number of starts by lefties, W-L at home, ERA at home, W-L on the road, ERA on the road (source: Baseball-Reference.com

2016 74 47-34 4.30  46-36 3.69

2013 61 53-28 3.57  44-37 4.03

2009 32 56-25 4.07  39-42 4.64

2008 33 56-25 3.78  39-42 4.26

2007 19 51-30 4.13  45-36 3.59

2005 32 54-27 4.46  41-40 5.04

2004  1  55-26 4.09  43-38 4.30

2003 16 53-28 4.29  42-39 4.70

1986 26 51-30 3.98  44-36 3.89

1978 28 59-23 3.49  40-41 3.80

1975 59 47-34 4.52  48-31 3.44

1967 22 49-32 3.86  43-38 2.87

What does this chart tell me? Well, first, that the recent Sox with a lot of left-handed starting pitching is very unusual for them. Their good teams in somewhat recent history just haven’t had that many games started by lefties. The 1975 team that got to the seventh game of the WS had a bunch, though not as much as recent teams. And NO good Red Sox team ever had 3 lefties in a 5-man rotation. And, though it is a small sample size, the seasons with the most left-handed pitching are also the seasons with the smallest home-field advantage.

Perhaps this just means that the Red Sox will win more on the road – I can’t say it doesn’t. What I DO say is that the Sox lefties will likely be less-effective at home that and equally talented righty, and that perhaps they would have been better off to target right-handed starters.

One other exercise which I thought I might try is to identify (by bWAR) the best pitcher in each of the years since 2000 for the Red Sox, and see if he was a lefty or a righty. From 2010-2014 the Sox had a superb left-handed starter in Jon Lester, and an up-and-down righty in Clay Buchholz. Buchholz  earned more bWAR than Lester 4 times, and Lester was the top pitcher only once. He was the top in 2008-2009. But back to 2000 NO OTHER LEFTY WAS THE SOX BEST PITCHER. This, of course, was by design: the management knew that lefties struggle in Fenway. To complete this exercise I did the same for 1990, 1980, 1970 and 1960. Righties all. As far as I can tell, the last truly great lefty to pitch for Boston was Lefty Grove, and before that Babe Ruth. Ouch.

So my optimistic prediction is that pitching so much in Fenway Park, Price, Sale, Rodriguez and Pomeranz will struggle, the Sox will win fewer games than they are predicted to win, and there will be a pennant race in the AL East. My optimistic HOPE is that the Yankees are a part of that race.

If the over-under for the Red Sox (as reported in Las Vegas) is 94.5 games, I’m taking the UNDER.

One Down 161 To Go

Posted by Baseball Bob at 09:44
Apr 032017

The Yankee quest for a perfect ended yesterday (opening day) along with the quests of the Giants and the Cubs (both probably more likely, though all three wildly unlikely).

Things did not go exactly as I predicted. First, Tanaka, lights out all spring, was brutally roughed up by the Rays, departing after 2 2/3 innings and SEVEN earned runs. The Yankee bullpen successfully locked the barn door after the horse had been stolen, the hay burned and the electricity disconnected. Starlin Castro had 3 hits for the Yankees, holding Tampa scoreless over 5.1 IP, with Warren allowing no hits in 2.1 IP. Castro and Headley had 3 hits apiece, accounting for 6 of the Yankees’ 9 hits, and Judge had a booming double in the 7-3 loss.

Meanwhile Madison Bumgarner had TWO HRs, the first giving SF a 2-0 lead in the 5th, and the 2nd breaking a 3-3 tie in the 7th. The Giants took a 4-3 lead into the 8th but their bullpen, which had the most blown saves (30!) of any playoff team last season, began their defense of this dubious title by blowing a save in the 8th, Derek Law facing 3 batters and allowing singles to each of them, tying the game at 4. SF then broke THAT tie in two batters, as the top of the 9th started triple, sac fly (5-4 SF). The inning continued single, wild pitch, walk, wild pitch (way to go, Fernando Rodney!) and then they escaped further damage with a medium fly and a dribbler in front of home plate. In comes high-priced closer Mark Melancon who records two quick outs to all but sew up the game. A funny thing happened on the way to the save, though, as double, single tied the game and gave the Giants their second blown save of the game (you really have to WANT it). Two more singles plated the winning run, giving Melancon a YIKES! and a well-deserved loss.

The Cubs and Cardinals was a pitchers duel between Carlos Martinez and Jon Lester, with the only run coming in the Cards’ third on single, single, sac fly. This score held up until the bottom of the eighth, when Grichuk homered for a 3-0 St. Louis lead. Cardinal Closer Oh came on for the easy (3-run) save, and gave up HBP, Single, Strike out, Homer (by Contreras), blowing the save and tying the game. Here come the Cubs! Not so fast – the Cardinals loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on Fly out, Double, Intentional Walk, Strikeout, Walk to bring up Grichuk (already a hero) who got a walk-off single and a 4-3 Cardinals win.

You could argue (if you think the Yankees are better than the Rays, which I do) that all three games were upsets, though all three also went to the home team, and in 2 of 3 that was clearly relevant. There were NO saves, but THREE blown saves and TWO walk-off hits. Isn’t this fun?

The rest of baseball starts today, weather permitting. No Yankee game, so boring 😉

It's Today

Posted by Baseball Bob at 10:02
Apr 022017

Well, my wait is finally over: baseball season opens today with 3 games: Yankees at Rays (1:00 pm), Giants at Diamondbacks (4:00 pm) and Cubs at Cardinals (8:30 pm). I certainly get why that last game is the evening featured game: defending champs, bitter rivalry, two good teams. But the other two are intriguing, as well.

The Yankees will start Tanaka, of course, their only legitimate star starter, and the Rays will counter with Archer, certainly their best pitcher. Archer hasn’t missed a start in at least 3 years, though 2016 was a bit of a down year for him, as his ERA ballooned to 4.02 after seasons of 3.22, 3.33, 3.23 (consistency, anyone?). Conventional wisdom for years has been that the Yankees are vulnerable to left-handed pitching, but I think that is not a thing, especially right now. McCann (L) has been replaced by Sanchez (R), Gregorius (L) by Torreyes (R) [to be fair, Didi MURDERED lefties in 2016]. Yes Bird (L) has replaced Teixeira (Both) but Tex was much better from the left side late in his career, and Judge (R) has replaced Beltran/Hicks (Both) so they clearly tilt much more to the right. I expect the Yankees to score, and Tanaka to pitch well, and the Yankees to start off with a win. We’ll see.

The Giants, with Bumgarner, should be clear favorites over Arizona with Greinke, but I am a Greinke fan. I know that he had, for him, a horrible 2016 (4.37 ERA) but he accumulated most of that in four disastrous starts (allowing 7, 7, 9 and 8 ER in 4.0, 6.2, 1.2 and 4.2 IP. I know those starts count, but my own pitching metric hovers him between B and B+ (I haven’t actually done the math) which is far from the disaster everyone portrays. He was 13-7 for a team that did NOT score a lot of runs (for him or anyone else) so he must have pitched well sometimes. I am afraid I have to predict the Giants, but Greinke and the DBacks could certainly surprise.

It will be interesting to see how Jon Lester fares this season with the Cubs. Lester is that rare species (a lefty who thrived in Fenway) but last year’s near Cy Young season featured David Ross, hardly a household name, but Lester’s personal catcher. Ross is gone now, and I think Lester will suffer for it. Lester pitched 202 innings in his age 32 season, AND ANOTHER 36 in the postseason, and I am looking for a bit of a collapse from him. The Cardinals are hungry, as their dominance in the division has been exploded by Chicago. I think the Cardinals will win this game.

All of this is silly, of course: unlike football or even basketball, the “favorite” in any game is typically only 55-45 to win, or maybe 60-40 in extreme cases (Phillies at Cubs?). Who knows who’ll win. That’s why we watch! That said, I won’t watch any of the games today – LDS General Conference is on from 12-2 and 4-6 and that four hours will probably constitute most of my TV for the day. I do have mlb.tv, which allows me to watch games DVR-style during or after the game, so I may try to catch some of the Yankee game between sessions of conference, or in the evening.

But, hey, BASEBALL!

It’s about time.

Almost

Posted by Baseball Bob at 11:19
Apr 012017

The Yankees have historically been scheduled to play in the inaugural game of new ballparks – I would guess they have “opened” three times as many parks as any other team. When it is an NL park they play an exhibition just before the season. Thus they played their final spring training game yesterday at new Sun Trust Park in Atlanta.

Starting for Atlanta was 43-year-old Bartolo Colon. Fun fact, Colon’s MLB career started BEFORE the debut of Turner Field, the park that Sun Trust is replacing (!!). Colon was replaced by the younger RA Dickey who is only 42. Gary Sanchez got the first (unofficial) hit in the new park, and Greg Bird got the first (unofficial) home run. Note: this is Bird’s EIGHTH of the spring – hey, fella, save some of those for the regular season.

The Yankee lineup for tomorrow’s opener in Tampa Bay: Gardiner LF, Sanchez C, Bird 1B, Holliday DH, Ellsbury CF, Headley 3B, Castro 2B, Judge RF, Torreyes SS with Tanaka on the mound. Go Yankees!

Bird, Judge and Sanchez all tore up spring training (almost as if they thought they had something to prove). Hicks did, as well. Let’s hope that the magic doesn’t wear off!

I have now seen many, many predictions for the coming season, and virtually ALL of them have the Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers winning their divisions. Consensus wild card picks seem to be Blue Jays and Rangers, Giants and Cardinals. This is same-old, same-old from last year, of course. The Yankees are rarely picked higher than 4th (never 1st or 2nd) and usually 5th. I have watched a lot of spring half-games (when the major leaguers are in) and I honestly feel that the predictions underestimate this Yankee lineup. They are (rightly) focused on the rotation, which IS shaky.

Interestingly, the 5th starter position seems to be between Jordan Montgomery and Chad Green. How do I know this? Well, Green was sent to Double-A (he was Triple-A last year) and they announced that both Montgomery and Green will start on the 6th and 11th of April. Since the Yankees’ first need for a 5th starter will be on April 16, does this suggest anything to you?

Meanwhile, I think the Rangers will push the Astros in the AL West, and the Mariners might, too. I think the Giants will push the Dodgers (they always seem to win 3/4 of their head-to-head matchups to stay in the race). And I think the Mets will push the Nationals. Since I also think the Yankees will be in the AL East mix, I am predicting 4 division races, rather than the one the media seems to think will happen. I would say it is about 4-1 against that the six designated division champs all win. But I’m not a betting man, in case you want some of that action.

Switching New York Teams, here is a side-by-side of the Mets and Nats:

C     D’Arnaud                Weiters                 Even

1B   Duda                        Lind                       Big Advantage Mets

2B   Walker                    Murphy                 Advantage Nats

3B   Wright                     Rendon                 Sadly, Big Advantage Nats

SS    Reyes                       Difo                       Advantage Mets

LF    Cespides                 Werth                   Advantage Mets

CF    Legares                   Turner/Eaton     Big Advantage Nats

RF    Granderson           Harper                 Huge Advantage Nats

So the Nats appear better, but not that much. And if David Wright could somehow be DAVID WRIGHT it would almost disappear.

And I know that the Nats are supposed to have this great pitching staff, but the Mets can pitch with ANYONE, and I have some hope for Matt Harvey returning to be Matt Harvey.

Overall, I agree that the Nats are better on paper than the Mets, but the Mets are YOUNG, have much more upside, and are hungry. I think it will be a horserace.

Spring Champs

Posted by Baseball Bob at 12:00
Mar 302017

I finally found the schedule, and the Yankees are officially the spring training champions (that is, best record in these no-count games): they lead St. Louis by 1 1/2 with one each to play. So yay!

More relevant is that the season starts this Sunday, with the Yankees visiting Tampa Bay for the Rays’ home opener. Their unofficial 25-man roster has leaked out, and the SS job temporarily belongs to Ronald Torreyes with Torreyes’ backup job going to Pete Kozma. Since Kozma isn’t on the 40-man roster, they have to make a spot for him, just as they would have for Tejada, Wade or Torres. Why, then, keep Kozma? Well, I suspect it isn’t ACTUALLY good news for Kozma, in some ways: it appears (to me) that their plan is to put him on the bench (he can play 2B, SS, 3B), play him as little as possible (late inning defensive replacement, possibly in interleague games after hitting for Torreyes) and then put him on waivers when Didi returns. If someone claims him from waivers, the Yanks lose him but get some money – if not he can be removed from the 40-man and returned to the minors.

The Yankees 25-man looks like 13 position players and 12 pitchers. The players are DH Holliday, C Sanchez and Romine, 1B Bird and Carter, 2B Castro, 3B Headley, SS Torreyes, IF Kozma, OF Gardner, Ellsbury, Judge, and Hicks.

Of those, Carter, Kozma, Hicks and Romine will be on the bench on opening day.

The Rotation is Tanaka, Sabathia, Pineda, Severino and TBA (they only need a 5th starter for the first time on April 16, 3rd time through the rotation). I honestly think it will be Jordan Montgomery, on NO ONE’S radar at the start of spring, but they could surprise me. Anyway, I think it will be between Montgomery, Green and Cessa (all sent to Triple A). I suppose Warren could still be a possible, but the other 3 will start in AAA, while Warren will relieve in NY. They are carrying, for the moment, 8 relief pitchers, but i think one of the stretched-out starters in Scranton will get the spot.

Wrong Again!!

Posted by Baseball Bob at 12:16
Mar 272017

The Yankees won again yesterday, bringing their spring record to 22-7. With only 6 games left before the season starts, they are near a lock to finish with the best record for the spring: the Cardinals are 18-8, the Pirates are 18-9 and the Mariners are 19-12, but they would basically have to lose every game (always possible in spring training games) for one of those teams to catch them. Assuming (too lazy to check) that all these teams play 6 more games, their magic number to finish ahead of each team: Cardinals 5, Pirates 4, Mariners 2.

The wrong again part was my earlier assumption that no one ever wins the spring and then the season. It IS very rare, but the 2009 Yankees actually did it, winning 24 games in the spring and the world series. So, go Yankees!

No decision has been made about the Yankee SS hole, but I learned some new information that makes one of the good options even less likely: None of Wade, Kozma, Tejada nor Torres is on the 40-man roster, which is full. This means that to use one of them as a fill-in would be to expose one of their kids to waivers (in order to remove him from the 40) or someone on the 40 needs to go to the 60-day DL (Didi is or can be on the 15-day DL, freeing a 25-man spot but not a 40-man spot). So they seem almost sure to go with Torreyes, Refsnyder, Castro (Refsnyder replacing Gregorius) to start the season, and will play at SS/2B a rotation of Torreyes/Castro, Castro Refsnyder and possibly Castro/Torreyes. Not so much fun but a sound business decision. I guess if Tejada or Kozma had impressed, they might have bitten the bullet, but they did not.

SIX DAYS to REAL baseball! For the first time in several years, I am legitimately excited for the season to start.

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