At last, the death-gods have released their cold, icy grip on the United States; the trees are green, the birds are singing, and our greatest sport has returned. While there’s just too much to keep track of in terms of who’s where and what’s what and who’s going to do what and such—FiveThirtyEight, Fangraphs, Sports on Earth, and SI are good places to check in if you aren’t up on it all—these are the ongoing storylines we at Deadspin are particularly interested in headed into this year’s campaign.
What’s going on with Mr. and Mrs. Met?
Baseball’s first couple should be riding high. Last year, the New York Mets overcame their usual futility and won the National League pennant behind one of the best young rotations baseball has seen in years, and hopes are high for a repeat this year. In public appearances, Mr. and Mrs. Met have seemed happy. Still, just a few weeks ago, Mrs. Met posted this to Twitter, raising questions about what’s really going on here.
Mrs. Met is married. Who proposed to her? Why did she accept? What does this mean for her and Mr. Met? Does this have anything to do with randy Kansas City Royals mascot Sluggerrr? We’ll find out more this season, presumably.
Will a safe fall out of the sky onto Pablo Sandoval?
Last year, Pablo Sandoval, prize free-agent acquisition for the Boston Red Sox, showed up to spring training Pablo Sandoval-shaped, got in trouble for using Instagram while using the john during a game, got dizzy and tired running the bases, and hit like a crappy utility infielder. This year he showed up to spring training Pablo Sandoval-shaped, inspiring a dispute between him and the team over whether he’d been asked to stay in shape, and lost his job to some guy. He should look out for open manhole covers.
Will the TV money scam stop working?
Three years ago, Time Warner Cable agreed to pay more than $8 billion over 25 years for the rights to air Dodgers games on TV, which seemed obviously ludicrous at the time—will there even be TV in 25 years?—and seems much more so now, given that the fees Time Warner needs to charge to even come close to making money on the deal are so high that no one will pay or is paying them. One effect of this hilarious and ongoing debacle is that tons of people in Southern California can’t watch Dodgers games on TV and haven’t been able to for some time; another is that these people are getting along in life just fine all the same. Bad news for any baseball team looking to gull a broadcast operation into paying an obviously ludicrous sum for the rights to air their games!
The San Francisco Giants are going to somehow win the World Series, right?
Dating back to 2010, the San Francisco Giants have alternated between winning the World Series in even-numbered years and failing to make the playoffs in odd-numbered ones, providing proof of an ordered universe in which an unseen intelligence is arraying events in patterns to serve some higher purpose. This is an even-numbered year.
Where will Drake LaRoche land?
Chicago White Sox team leader Drake LaRoche was exiled from the South Side after a dispute with team management, causing serious strife within the team’s clubhouse but leaving open the possibility that some other team will get the chance to take advantage of his skills in the areas of mentoring and inspiring.
How many times will Byung-ho Park get to show off his bat-flipping skills?
29-year-old first baseman Byung-ho Park was a big signing for the Minnesota Twins this winter, having socked 105 dingers in just 268 games in the Korean Baseball Organization over the last two years. Many of those were followed on by incredible bat flips of the kind you pretty much never see in the majors. (He’s the first bat-flipper in the video above; more examples here.) Park has claimed that he’ll be leaving the bat flips in Korea in deference to provincial American manners, but hopefully he’ll prove a liar.
Is this finally the year Brett Lawrie breaks out?
Since the beginning of time, mankind has awaited longtime Deadspin favorite Brett Lawrie’s breakout campaign. Just last year I off-handedly mentioned that I thought he had a big season in him and then had to endure my colleague Samer Kalaf’s merciless taunting all year as he had the exact same okay-ish season he does every year for the Oakland A’s. This year, though, he’s on the Chicago White Sox—who are definitely going to win a lot of games!—and big things are in the offing.
Will anyone be able to look Ryan Howard in the eye?
In ancient times, Ryan Howard was the power-hitting star of the world champion Philadelphia Phillies. Today, well, Vice recently asked manager Pete Mackanin about the team legend, who’s making $25 million this year, and he said, “He’s a player who is playing baseball. I don’t see him having a role. He’s got a big stature in the game. He means a lot to the organization. He’s trying to show us he’s still capable,” a quote sadder than this:
Will there be justice for Pat Venditte?
Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, whose switch-pitching inspired new rules years ago when he was in the minors, made his major league debut last year with the Oakland A’s, and is now with the Toronto Blue Jays, who inexplicably left him off the Opening Day roster. Get it together, Jays—he can throw with both his left and his right hands.
When will Barry Bonds make his Miami Marlins debut?
You know that at 51 years old, Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds could outplay a bunch of players who will play for the Marlins this year; Bonds definitely knows it; and the Marlins not only know it but probably know there’s money, or at least publicity, in it. Given their unique, care-free attitude—this is a team with a freaky psychedelic statue in their outfield that made their general manager their field manager last year and feels perfectly okay trading players after promising them they won’t be traded—I fully expect to see Bonds with a bat in hand by the end of September. It will be glorious.