I grew up with baseball. Playing, watching, sorting cards, video gaming, you name it. In fact, I still play on a 25-and-up team during the summer.
Lauren likes going to games too, but when she gets bored in the 7th inning you have to buy her a corn dog.
Although it’s still the most-attended sport in America (5,184 games per season makes sure of that), baseball has slipped in popularity to football. You might not be able to see bone-crunching action on every play, but there is still a lot to watch for. Even if you don’t already have a favorite team, you can grab a dog and a beer, sit back, relax, and watch for the following reasons.
These are your top dogs. Your big kahunas. Your [insert idiom here]. Thanks to drafting and developing young players, hiring blue-chip veterans, and generally playing their cards right, the following have positioned themselves as the teams to beat in 2013. If you watch baseball for nothing else in 2013, watch for these guys.
- Los Angeles Angels – The Angels snagged Josh Hamilton in the off season, who will ironically be the devil to opposing pitchers.
- Los Angeles Dodgers – The city of LA should have some great baseball to watch assuming the Dodgers and Angels don’t choke.
- Toronto Blue Jays – Looking to take advantage of an uncharacteristically weak division in 2013.
- Washington Nationals – Expect playoff baseball to return to the nation’s capital.
- Detroit Tigers – The 2012 American League champions expect to return to the World Series, but this time not get swept.
If you like pulling for the Rudys of the world, this is your ticket. These bottom-dwellers look to hang tough and stumble upon upsets against the big spenders.
- Houston Astros – They aren’t the WORST team but — wait, they are the worst team…
- San Diego Padres – Payroll is about one-fourth that of the Yankees.
- Miami Marlins – They tend to overachieve when one least expects. Nobody will accuse you of being a bandwagon fan if you start following them now.
America’s pastime has been around since the 1840’s. The sport is drenched in tradition. Major League Baseball was founded in 1869 with establishment of its first team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. They’re not around anymore, but the following clubs trace their roots back to baseball’s beginnings. Watch for them in 2013 just like your relatives did over a hundred years ago:
- Atlanta Braves – The oldest sports franchise in America dates back to 1871.
- Chicago Cubs – This is why they’re the lovable losers instead of just the losers.
- St. Louis Cardinals – One of the greatest franchises of all time with 10 world championships.
Going to a baseball game can be one of the best ways to experience a city. If you’re smart and plan obsessively before embarking on your trips this summer (like Lauren does), you’ll make sure to swing through the following cities to catch a game — or a tour of the stadium, if the team’s out of town.
- Fenway Park, Boston – The 37-foot tall green monster was built in 1912 to keep peeping toms from getting a free look at the game. Now it’s just cool.
- Camden Yards, Baltimore – Classic yet modern, not to mention a great Inner Harbor location and view of the skyline.
- Wrigley Field, Chicago – I’m thinking about installing Wrigley-style ivy walls in our apartment.
Now for what is arguably the most important category. A sharp uni will garner more interest from the ignorant non-baseball public than will actually winning games. Teams hire full-time employees whose sole job it is to make the players look good. Why? Merchandising! The following teams have earned the right to be seen on your HD TV.
- Chicago White Sox - Black and white keeps it simple and classy.
- Baltimore Orioles – Brought back the cartoon bird in 2012.
- San Francisco Giants – You fonties out there will love the typeface.
- Pittsburgh Pirates – Black and yellow works – just ask the Steelers.
The rest mostly just wear various shades of red, white, and blue.
Baseball is for everyone. You just have to find the right story lines and characters. As March is rounding the corner, I can’t stop thinking Is it April yet?