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Home / Articles / Columnists / Sports Feature /  Baseball Preview: Where Hope Springs Eternal
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Wednesday, May 4,2022

Baseball Preview: Where Hope Springs Eternal

By Mark Tudino  
The start of the baseball season always brings with it a certain combination of hope and dread. Hope that your team is finally going to figure it out as you watch young players develop and older veterans find their groove, all with the idea of playing meaningful games into September.

But dread in the sense your club will stumble out of the gate, suffer setbacks in the form of injuries and underperformance, and be out of the race by Mother’s Day (we Oriole fans can certainly identify with the latter scenario).

Locally, the outlook is decidedly mixed. For Miami’s Marlins, the season opened up in relative obscurity, mostly because they played games on the west coast, and also because of the continued success of the winter sports franchises as both the Heat and the Panthers are primed for a deep playoff run. Still, after a first week which saw them take three of four from their division rival Phillies, it’s obvious where the strength of this team lies – and it starts on the mound.

Starting pitchers Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Rogers, Pablo Lopez, Elieser Hernandez and Jesus Luzardo are the rock upon which any success will be built. They are young, talented and full of the dreaded “P” word – potential. Yet they are just part of the formula, as the other components the organization focused on in the offseason now will be put to the test. Chief among which are the acquisitions of power bats outfielders Jorge Soler and Avisail Garcia, who were signed to beef up a largely impotent lineup. Add to that mix the additions of solid veteran leadership in infielder Delino DeShields and Joey Wendle, to go along with established hitters Jesus Aguilar and Jazz Chisolm (who finished in the top five in Rookie of the Year voting last year), and the team on paper looks built to contend to the end. Their bullpen was bolstered by the acquisitions of relief help late in spring training, but the biggest problem Miami has is where they play – that is the NL East. Marlins fans must know they now reside in a neighborhood where big spending teams like the Mets and Phillies reside, but so do the defending World Series champs in the form of the Atlanta Braves. An expanded playoff format will help, but the season’s success may come down to late-season acquisitions, traditionally the province of richer, larger market teams. The prediction? Marlins’ fans should playoff plans for the fall, but maybe not a deep run.

The rest of the league appears to be like the scene from “Casablanca” with the usual suspects in play, that is your Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, White Sox, Astros and A’s in the AL, while in the aforementioned NL it’s the Braves, Mets, Dodgers, Cardinals and Brewers. The World Series champion will likely come from that list. In a way its sad competitive imbalance has boiled down to haves and have-nots, however financial and historical realities cannot be ignored. But it is spring, so everyone has a chance, right? We’ll see – in the meantime…

Play Ball!!!

 

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