Major League Baseball preview

Phil Consuegra

This time of year makes people like me just go insane with jubilation. It’s not because I can finally wear short sleeves, and it’s not because summer is right around the corner.

Well, maybe that’s the reason.

Either way, I can now enjoy a sport that has become the fabric of American culture in the past 200 years. When people think of American culture, they think of hot dogs, apple pie and, of course, baseball. Yes fans, the boys of summer have once again taken the field for another remarkable season. Judging by the way they’ve started, I can tell this season will definitely be one to remember.

With that said, a list must be made – a wish list, if you will, of what each team wants to have in order to succeed this season. For the contenders, it’s more of a single-player deal. For the lower market teams, the wish is more general. So, without any further ado, here is the list, in division order:

AL East: What a great place to begin. We’ll start from the bottom. Toronto: Carlos Delgado to play like he’s in the final year of his contract. It’s going to be a long season north of the border. Tampa Bay: Lou Pinella to fire up the troops and get some solid pitching. New York: A-Rod and Shef to play up to the hype. Even if they don’t, the Yanks have no excuse to win this division. Boston: Consistency. I hope Bean Town is ready for an even bigger war this year with the Bronx Bombers. The Sox are another team with no excuse to be playing meaningful games in September. Baltimore: In addition to New York and Boston underachieving, the O’s need Javy Lopez and Miguel Tejada to play up to their potential. Oh, and did I mention Sidney Ponson needs to pitch well?

AL Central: Tough conference to decipher. Cleveland: This city hasn’t won a title, in any sport, in ages. It won’t change with this Indians team. How about this for a wish list: a whole new tribe? Kansas City: This is definitely a contender, if they can pitch anything to their opponent. Detroit: Finally, Dimitri Young has some help. Pudge Rodriquez, Rondell White and Fernando Vina could actually help this team go a long way. Chicago: Esteban Loaiza to re-create last year. This year, though, give him some run support. Minnesota: A new catcher. Henry Blanco just isn’t that good, and their starter and backup are on the DL.

AL West: This will be a dogfight to the end. Seattle: Rich Aurilia has to pick up the pace for this falling Mariners team. Texas: Alfonso Soriano and Hank Blalock must pick up the slack left by that horrid thing they call a pitching staff for the Rangers. Anaheim: What a roster. What potential. All they need to do is play consistently. Oakland: Of course, the four headed monster of Zito, Mulder, Hudson and Redman has to pitch well. They also need some serious hitting from Bobby Crosby.

NL East: Of course, my favorite. Montreal: A new home. A new home that actually likes baseball. Philadelphia: They’ve got hitters. They’ve got Billy Wager. Unfortunately for the Phillies, you have to be able to get to Billy Wagner in order for him to do anything. New York Mets: Piazza to hit, Glavine to pitch like his old self, and Matsui to prove it was worth moving Jose Reyes to second. Atlanta: Can we say, Braves’ pitching? Can we say, making up for Sheffield and Lopez leaving? Can we say, more than 90 games this season for J.D. Drew? Florida: Health of the Marlins’ pitching staff. My goodness, I love this rotation.

NL Central: Toughest one to pick. Milwaukee: The Brew Crew has serious trouble getting the ball to the plate. At least Ben Sheets will do well every five days. St. Louis: As much as I hate to say it, Tony LaRussa needs to leave. This team’s best days are behind them. Pittsburgh: The Pirates just need to trade Kendall and Benson and start over from the beginning. Chicago: No excuse for the Cubbies to not be there in September. That rotation is great. They must have Prior in order to be successful. Cincinnati: The Reds need Griffey. The Reds need pitching. Both will be suffering by the end of the season. Houston: Pettite and Clemens? Impressive. Being able to pitch in Minute Maid? Downright impossible. I hope they can hold their own.

NL West: This year, this is the dumping ground of the NL. Arizona: Of course, Randy Johnson to play well. What other pitcher do they have? San Francisco: Let’s put it this way: for them to be successful, they’ll need some guy other than Bonds and his steroids to help this team. Colorado: Besides someone who can actually pitch in Coors, the Rockies just need to overpower everyone. Yes, that means you, Jeromy Burnitz. San Diego: David Wells and Brian Giles to do what they were traded for. Los Angeles: How about at the end of the season, we don’t take such big bites of our food. That way, we won’t choke.

Hey guys, enjoy the season. We’ll see if these wishes are granted. If they are, we’re in for another exciting summer.