Tri-state sports: Spring training brings warmth
In the midst of nearly three feet of snow this weekend, local baseball fans may be yearning for a warm thought this week. Hopefully pitchers and catchers reporting for both the New York Mets and Yankees on Wednesday will be enough.
Spring training brings to fans both the warmth and promise that only baseball can bring, but like any year, it brings a truckload of questions for New York's baseball squads.
For the Yankees, 2012 ended roughly and the offseason only turned things from bad to worse. After an exciting division series win over the upstart Baltimore Orioles, the Detroit Tigers swept the Yankees in the ALCS, booting them out of the postseason. And while the Yankees may have been swept out of the playoffs before, it was never quite like this.
Their pitching was absolutely lit up by Detroit bats that would eventually be crushed themselves by San Francisco. Their own bats went silent, and the saga that is Alex Rodriguez took another dramatic turn after his own offensive woes took him right to the bench and out of the starting lineup.
The Yanks just may be worthy of your pity, but at least they made it to the playoffs last season.
The Mets, who have not seen October baseball for six straight years, finished last season 14 games below .500 and the same amount of games away from the second National League Wild Card spot.
In typical Mets fashion however, they were well in the hunt fairly late into the summer, not truly dipping off until August (formidable for a Mets team as of late). But thanks to a shoddy bullpen and inconsistent offense, they floundered all the way back to fourth place in the division.
But 2013 offers interesting prospects for both New York clubs.
The Yankees surprised some by signing Kevin Youkilis and letting Nick Swisher walk, but again, any headline with "Rodriguez" in it has taken center stage. Being further linked to a steroid distributor is no good for any ball player, and for the much maligned A-Rod, it may just signal the end of his tenure in the Bronx.
And even if the Yankees were to make more positive changes heading into next year, some believe that it may nonetheless be the end of their tenure as top dog in the AL East.
The Orioles, who returned to the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade last season, and the Toronto Blue Jays, who have undoubtedly had the most exciting offseason so far, look to be slowly taking over the division they have been in the basement of for so long.
On the flip side, the Mets outlook seems to be a bit more promising, if for nothing more but the fact that they can't get much worse than they have been.
Re-signing David Wright to his monster 7-year deal may be costly, but bringing their undisputed captain back for at least the remaining bulk of his career was the only sure thing to do.
And in terms of pitching, the blue and orange are doing the seemingly right thing by signing any relief pitcher (Houston's Brandon Lyon being the latest) they can get their hands on to replace the circus that was their 2012 bullpen.
Hope, intrigue and a lot of controversy await the 2013 seasons for the Mets and Yankees, and it's all beginning a lot sooner than you may think.
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