MLB return creates excitement for fans


Photo Courtest of Julie Fennell/Flickr

Mike Trout looks to have yet another record breaking season in 2021.

By Paul Gustafson, Lead Multimedia & Social Media Editor (Sports)

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski stand victorious in the opposing end zone of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida. Brady has won his record seventh Super Bowl after signing a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the season. Fans across the world watch on, bittersweet. Happy that the NFL managed to successfully complete a full season amid covid related uncertainty, but sad that the season is over, no more football for eight months. Luckily, the void created by the absence of football will soon be filled with a full slate of MLB baseball. 

With the start of spring training under way, players have begun to roll into Florida and Arizona in order to prepare for the upcoming season. At this point, there is one thing in common among every team: hope. Spring training is a place where teams work hard in order to get on the right track for the season. Limited fans will be allowed to attend spring training games in adherence with public health guidelines. After arriving at their spring training locations, teams will practice and participate in exhibition games to shake off the rust in preparation for opening day.

After a shortened 60 game season in 2020, the MLB plans to return for 2021 with a full 162 game season. The 102 game increase is welcomed by baseball fans who missed the feeling of watching their favorite team play every day from April to September. 

“We finally get to watch our favorite teams take the field again” junior Marc Tiegel said “And the return of a 162 game season is exciting”. The league also plans on allowing some fans into stadiums unlike last season. While no official decisions have been made on fans, that league is working towards finding safe ways to allow fans back. The feeling of sitting in a stadium on a hot summer day or cool summer night with friends and family has been one that fans have missed greatly and are excited to experience once again. 

Opening Day is set for April 1, with all 30 teams set to play. Another MLB tradition set to return for the 2021 season is the All Star Game. The league cancelled the midsummer classic in 2020 due to coronavirus concerns, However, the game is scheduled to be played on July 13, in Atlanta. Fans may remember the extended 16 team playoff pool in 2020. Sorry to fans of middle tier teams, the league will be returning to a 10 team playoff format. The 16 team playoff rule was only approved for one year meaning it will not be returning. Another popular rule change from the 2020 season, the universal designated hitter, will not be returning. Once again pitchers will step up to the plate in the National League. 

When it comes to the game itself, competition is expected to be at all time high this season. The 2020 champion Los Angeles Dodgers will be looking to defend their throne after signing Cy Young award winning pitcher Trevor Bauer. However, it won’t be easy with their division foe’s the San Diego Padres acquiring serious arm talent during the offseason in the form of Yu Darvish and Blake Snell. Some other teams that made major additions in the offseason include the St.Louis Cardinals who brought in superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado via trade and the New York Mets who added Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco on the trade market. In the American League, the Toronto Blue Jays added George Springer and Marcus Semien as an attempt to catch up to the New York Yankees and defending American League champion Tampa Bay Rays in the division. 

Some other interesting headlines to follow around the league include the Houston Astros. If fans are in attendance at games, how will the Astros be treated by fans during road games? Following the Astros cheating scandal they were expected to receive much backlash from fans, but luckily no fans were allowed in stadiums in 2020. Will fans continue to hold a grudge against the Astros and give them a hard time on the road? 

Another recurring storyline that will always find the spotlight is, will Mike Trout finally find playoff success? The Los Angeles Angels have managed to waste one of the greatest players in the history of the sports career, not making it to the playoffs since 2014. The team has attempted to surround Trout with talent including Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani. Will 2021 finally be the year that Mike Trout and the Angels can make the playoffs and win?

 Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Trevor Bauer signed a massive contract in the offseason worth $102 million over three years. Fans are intrigued to see if this signing will be worth it for the Dodgers or if Bauer will fail to play up to his high price tag. Bauer has recently found himself in twitter beef with New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard following Bauer’s decision to mislead Mets fans into thinking he would sign with the team just to backdoor them and travel across the country to Los Angeles. Who will have the last laugh in this beef, Noah Syndergaard and the Mets or Trevor Bauer? 

“Baseball season returning gives a sense that everything will be alright soon and that we are making progress against the virus” junior Jack Minish said. In a year full of uncertainty and stress, fans can look to baseball for a form of normalcy this spring. Baseball marks the unofficial start of spring much desired by West Essex students during the snowy winter months. As hope and optimism spreads in the form of the COVID-19 vaccine, baseball could provide another dose of joy in the households across America.