Don’t let that headline deceive you.
I am just as baseball obsessed as ever and have been counting down the days until Opening Day since… well, since the final out of the 2017 World Series.
But something has been chafing me the last couple of seasons.
What’s bothering me is this gnawing feeling the last couple of seasons that there are really only a handful of teams who are likely to be the final team standing when the 2018 season ends.
It’s starting to feel like the NBA has felt every season since I was a kid in the early 80s.
Come each preseason, you knew the champion was either going to be the Lakers or Celtics, or the Lakers or Bulls, or the Bulls or Rockets, etc.
There was no real debate about it.
Fast forward to the present-day dynasties of the Warriors and Cavs and you’ll see that nothing has changed there.
Sure, there were other teams who might sneak in there if one of the juggernauts were dealt a season-ending injury to a key player or their superstar decided to retire and try his hand at minor league baseball.
But for the most part, you could bet your mortgage on one of just two or three teams being the one who would win each season.
That sense of fatalism is what eventually drove me away from the NBA.
Between that and the 16 playoff teams, getting amped up for the start of a new season just left me feeling like… why bother?
Now I look at the landscape of teams for the 2018 season and I see the defending champion Houston Astros, the 2016 champion Chicago Cubs, the 2017 NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers, the 2016 AL champion Cleveland Indians, and then the well-stacked New York Yankees and Washington Nationals.
Maybe I can throw a bone to the Boston Red Sox.
Still, that makes just seven teams that I could feasibly see as World Series champions in 2018.
I honestly don’t see any semblance of a rational argument for a single one of the other 23 squads.
It’s worth noting that a real easy argument could be made that every champion since the 2015 Kansas City Royals served as an exhibition that tanking works.
What we’re left with in the modern MLB are a select few teams who have the goods to win a title and the rest of the field either being a team in flat-out tank mode or being so bereft of talent that it would be in their best interests to join the intentionally-losing crowd.
I honestly hope I’m wrong and that several of these other 23 teams wildly exceed expectations and make playoff runs.
I don’t think it’s in a league’s best interests when the ending is already scripted 8 months ahead of time.
What am I looking forward to in 2018?
Really I just want some team to surprise me.