Excitement builds as the 2019 MLB season approaches

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Excitement builds as the 2019 MLB season approaches

Espn.com

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   March 28th, 2019: MLB Opening Day. Ever since Chris Sale buried a down-and-in slider to Manny Machado to end the 2018 World Series, every baseball fan has been looking forward to this date. The ballpark grills begin to sizzle once again, the immense stadium gates are dusted off; life finally seems normal again for ballplayers and fans alike. To get you ready for the upcoming 2019 Major League Baseball season, here’s a look at some recent rule changes, player predictions, and the overall state of the league.

  As much as I hate to admit it, MLB attendance and viewership is on a downward trend, as fans turn their attention to powerhouse sports such as football and basketball. In order to combat this, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has made increasing pace of play, the gradual shortening of baseball games, one of his foremost goals.

  In past years, Manfred has instituted various changes such as the instant intentional walk, along with allowing only six mound visits per game. But more could be in the works very soon, as he has discussed implementing a pitch clock for the 2019 season. This would set a 20-second time limit for the pitcher to come set, and then deliver the pitch. The pitch clock is currently being tested out in Spring Training, and has been used in the minor leagues since 2015. With this proposed move, game times would see a drastic decrease.

  Another popular topic has been salary cap equality amongst teams. Before the 1990s, teams in major media markets such as the New York Yankees have had a seemingly-endless supply of money to throw at players in free-agency and for contract extensions. In 1997, a luxury tax was created as a handicap for these juggernaut teams. But here in 2019, the effects of that change are very evident.

 Eastern junior Aaron Arnstein weighed in on the upcoming free-agency periods. “Small-market teams such as the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics should definitely be given equal opportunities to sign big-name stars like Mike Trout and Mookie Betts in the coming years. For example, a 97-win team like the A’s should have just as good a shot to sign these players as perennial bottom-dwelling teams like the Reds do,” he said.

  In recent months, the talk of the town has been the MLB offseason; more specifically the prolonged free-agency of superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Now that those two have signed, we can really see which team made the biggest moves.

  Eastern freshman Joseph Loverdi thinks the Philadelphia Phillies were the most productive offseason squad. “Adding Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, David Robertson, J.T. Realmuto and Andrew McCutchen more than solidifies the team. It turns them into a playoff contender. I’d say the Mets are a close second, as netting both Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz in the trade with the Seattle Mariners improved the team,” he said.

  Along with the 25-man roster stalwarts you see return year after year, there’s always a handful of players who burst onto the scene with a breakout season.

  Arnstein shared his picks for breakout players in 2019. “Franmil Reyes and Manuel Margot, two of the many budding stars for the San Diego Padres, look like they are ready to help lead their team to their first postseason appearance since 2006. Oakland Athletics defensive wizard Matt Chapman, a Platinum Glove Award winner, looks to build off a year that saw him finish seventh in AL MVP voting. Joey Wendle of the Tampa Bay Rays, who batted an even .300 last season, also looks to be another potential star that is part of the next crop of young, generational talent in the MLB,” he said.

  On the opposite side of the spectrum, some players do not quite live up to expectations, whether it be from injury or simply poor performance. But through hard work, determination, and heart, they can return to the high plateau they departed from.

  Loverdi discussed who might receive the Comeback Player of the Year Award for 2019. “Pitcher Danny Farquhar should be someone that everybody roots for. To come back from a brain hemorrhage that quickly is insane, and he now has a chance at cracking the New York Yankees’ roster. First baseman Chris Davis is also an intriguing choice, as he should be able to bounce back from that horrific season last year. Troy Tulowitzki might have a good season with the Yankees after many injury-plagued ones,” he said.

  Every MLB fan is eagerly counting down the days until Opening Day, and with good reason. 2019 represents a year in which baseball might return to favor among fans. With two of its biggest stars (Harper and Machado) in different uniforms than last year, there’s definitely plenty of storylines to look out for. Will Bryce Harper lead his new club to a World Series victory? Will the Seattle Mariners finally break their eighteen-year-long playoff drought? The answers lie within the 2019 MLB season, and it couldn’t come soon enough.