Badgered with Ben Algar: Play Ball

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First, allow me to rep my fellow Major League Baseball (MLB) fans across the JSC community and the fans of baseball who read Basement Medicine. Apr. 4, 2012 kicked off yet another highly anticipated season of stick and ball and glove. Mind you, the MLB did not waste their time during the offseason negotiating wages, bargaining agreements and contractual business. No. The MLB takes large sighs of relief in knowing their good fortune of having dealt within the mud pit in the past.

Hence why the sport of stick and ball is much loved by the nation as a whole. Come one, come all. It’s springtime, it’s opening day, and the first pitch is a . . .

Bawlk! What? Come on, ump! Get off your knees; you’re blowing the game!

Well, just wait a minute. The MLB may not have dealt inside the mud pit during the 2012 offseason, but there certainly wasn’t any shortage of offseason drama. I mean, what’s a professional sport without the pangs of big boy antics and photos you wish hadn’t made it to Facebook. So grab a seat on the bench, rookie. You’re going to school!

Happy Spring! Albert Pujols doesn’t play for the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals anymore. “The Machine” signed with the rejuvenated Los Angeles Angels, formerly known as the Anaheim Angels, for a 10 year $240 million contract. Pujols’ contract measures in as the second highest contract in MLB history, second only to the New York Yankees $252 million contract to third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

“We are disappointed that we were unable to reach an agreement to keep Albert Pujols in St. Lous,” Cardinals chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement.

Quite the fuss, Mr. Dewitt.

The major league slugger, and Gold Glover, will take his game to L.A., gauging his new club and stadium on April 6, 2012, versus Kansas City. The Albert Pujols-less Cardinals were able to pull out the W, though, against the rejuvenated Miami Marlins and their new shortstop Jose Reyes, who cut his ties with the Mets for some warm weather and a new city.

Downgrades are byproducts of offseason business, but upgrades are not “a definite” in the baseball world. A team can break as often as a player is sent to the DL while a team can make the grade on the basis on good fortune and good timing. That being said, changes are inevitable.

Plenty of ball clubs have swept out their GMs and taken the high road to securing hopeful GMs from other ball club’s pasts.

Boston, after the drama during the 2011 season and considering the height of tension in their clubhouse, found their GM Terry Francona (Tito) walking away from the club after eight respectable seasons at the helm of the Red Sox organization. Analyst Bobby Valentine filled his spot, vowing that the antics discovered in the Boston clubhouse the season before would not be tolerated during the 2012 season.

The rejuvenated Miami Marlins found themselves without a respectable GM before former White Sox GM Ozzie Guillen took the helm. There were seven GM changes across the league, none bigger than the first two mentioned.

And while the changes in the staff of a ball club are interesting to take notice of and comment on, I think it’s an agreed ideal to get excited about the people who will be at the center of this season’s drama.

One of the big names that come to mind are Robinson Cano, the New York Yankees’ second basemen and forth runner-up for last year’s MVP award. Cano is projected to go off offensively and take his game to the next level, trying to secure the 2012 MVP award.

Prince Fielder, former first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers and new first baseman for the Detroit Tigers, had a record-breaking year offensively in 2011. His departure from Milwaukee will make for much controversy as the Brewers search for their new first baseman and the Tigers revel in the good fortune of having the slugger in their cleanup spot.

Derek Jeter was signed late, but not too late. The late signing caused controversy in and outside of the clubhouse, though the Yankees’ respected captain made sure not to make a issue out of it. His initial irritation was noticed and sobered with the money that the aging shortstop deserves.

And lastly, though there is no end, is Washington Nationals, a team that at one point was known as the league’s worst and the team that capitalized on phenom Steven Strasburg. The Nationals are projected to make the playoffs for the first time in their rejuvenated history, a short history after changing locations and team name. They’re also projected to make a run for their division, casting themselves among the best in their division and winning the Pennant.

I can’t imagine what’s better?

Baseball, or put more candidly, the glorified beer league of America will make for much summer fun and fall drama. Alex Rodriguez will go through girlfriends faster than your dad goes through fishing lures. Tito will be behind the scenes analyzing baseball instead of boozing with his players during their final run for the playoffs. And Milton Bradley might take your beer and whip it at your face, all considering if he took his pills that morning.

Who will become the reincarnation of Bucky Dent? Which team will pull a glorioious late season downfall like last year’s Red Sox? Who is going to win a goddam triple crown?

Gear up baseball fans! Let’s play ball!

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