Some of yall must have seen this dream job opportunity with MLB (http://mlb.mlb.com/dreamjob/index.jsp). One of the questions in the application is what we think will be the biggest story in baseball, and I thought it might be a fun question to respond to as we wait for more season.
I've included my 500 word response, and would love some feedback before I send it in. Don't hesitate to go an entirely different direction though if you want to talk about another big story in baseball.<!--StartFragment-->
To be honest, I don’t think the major story of 2011 has yet arrived, but some pieces have moved into place that could build towards baseball lore. The most obvious one is Pujols in his contract year, but I expect the more compelling story to be of the Goliath Phillies.
If Pujols has a career year during the last on his contract, and if he refuses to talk about it, his image will split at the seams. Is he a hometown hero keeping his team in contention without Wainwright? Or is he working towards the biggest walk year of all time? The fact that a career year for Pujols would mean a Triple Crown makes the story even bigger, and a potential defining moment in Major League history. If he walked, and the Yankees bought a championship in the same year, America’s Favorite Past Time would severely damage the American spirit.
However, I don’t think the Yankees will be playing the archetypal role of winning buyers this year. Unless they come over the top and secure someone’s ace, they won’t be dominant. The truth is though, it’s a stale story anyway. They’ve won as big buyers, and they’ve lost to small budget underdogs. What’s interesting and new though, is that people are starting to call the Phillies, “Yankees of the National League.” Not only will this rejuvenate the story of a big budget bad guy, it also threatens the spread of Yankeeism into the National League.
With their four aces they’re slated to be completely dominant. Anything short of a World Series title would be a disgrace. I expect they will be like the Heat though. As popular as they are, no one’s heart will be in their wins. As much as their dominance will be written about, I expect just as much talk of their fall. This conversation will center around the internal combustion of age and injury, as well as a rivalry with the Braves.
With all the youth, a new coach, a payroll under a hundred million, an all star from the bench and two veterans on hometown discount; the Braves are the archetypal opposites of the aging overpaid incumbent champions. What makes this dichotomy especially exciting is that their head to head series look to be the best in baseball. Both teams will have favorites for Rookie of the Year, and if Hanson breaks out they’ll both bring Cy Young contenders. With Hudson, Lee, Halladay, Oswalt, Hanson, Jurrjens, Hamels and Lowe in the mix, it’s reasonable to expect tight games and pitching duels. With Howard, Heyward, Utley and Uggla, heroics are equally anticipated.
No other stories in baseball carry charge like these. Even better, they resonate as two sides of the same issue—a player trying to sell himself and a buying team that wins. On the other hand, the Phillies could loose to underdogs and Pujols could stay in St. Louis. If these stories come to life as I anticipate, they'll define this season in baseball.<!--EndFragment-->