1. World Series Champion: LA Dodgers over Cleveland Indians
AL East Champ: New York Yankees
AL West Champs: Houston Astros
AL Central Champs: Cleveland Indians
AL Wild Card teams: Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox
NL East Champ: Atlanta Braves
NL Central Champs: Chicago Cubs
NL West Champs: LA Dodgers
NL Wild Card teams: San Francisco Giants and Milwaukee Brewers
2. The MLB is implementing a new rule for All-star games that go 11 innings and beyond. To encourage the quick ending of the game, each half inning will start with a runner on second base. Last season, this rule was implemented in the lower levels of the minors where owners did not require player consent to pass the rule. I personally don't like it. Starting each half-inning with a runner on second is the equivalence of the NHL's 3 on 3 OT. I don't think it's right to assume the first batter will reach second base. Also, many managers will resort to moving the runner ahead on a bunt as their first play. How would a run be scored anyway? Would it be considered an earned run against the pitcher or unearned?
3. Another rule change that Commissioner Rob Manfred is trying to push through is a pitch timer. Here is how the pitch clock would work. Clock starts when the pitcher has the ball on the mound and stops when he begins his windup or comes set.Should the pitcher step off the rubber, the clock resets. Hitters must be in the batter's box five seconds after the clock starts. Pitchers receive one warning per game. A second violation results in a ball being awarded to the hitter. The rule would come into effect on Opening Day. The clock would run 20 seconds bases empty or occupied. Of course both batters and pitchers hate this rule. Many batters have their mannerisms they do before every pitch, adjusting the batting gloves and twirling the bat among other things. Pitchers too need time to get back into a mindset where they can pitch effectively after giving up a hit or walking a batter. Frankly, I'd tweak this rule and say the clock runs regardless of whether the pitcher steps off, unless he calls time out.
3. A third rule Manfred is trying to implement is a mound visit limit. Currently there is no limit on the number of times a catcher can visit the mound in an inning. Some catchers visit the mound more than others. There is a limit for coaches currently and they are allowed one mound visit per pitcher per inning. A second mound visit requires them to change pitchers. The new mound visit rules would look like this: Any visit from a manager, coach, or player to the mound, or if a pitcher leaves the mound to speak with another player, counts as a mound visit. More than one visit in the same inning results in the pitcher being removed from the game. In other words, say it was the third inning and the Jays were up 3-0 on the Yankees. Marcus Stroman breezed through the first 2 innings throwing ten pitches each inning. Third inning comes up and Stroman gives up a hit and walks a batter on 4 straight pitches. Devon Travis comes up to Stroman after he throws a fifth straight ball and wants to say an encouraging word to Stroman. The next pitch Russel Martin and Stroman can't agree on a pitch. If Martin came to the mound, Gibbons would have to come out and remove Stroman from the game. Managers will have to warm up a reliever every inning in case the catcher and pitcher can't agree on a pitch.
4. I get that the MLB wants to speed up the game of baseball, but they can't be forcing through rules that could affect the game drastically. It is critical that rule changes happen as a collaboration between players and owners. At the end of the day, the players are the ones on the field playing the game.
5. It is somewhat surprising to see so many big name free agents remaining so close to spring training, Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and JD Martinez all remain on the market. I think teams don't want to commit these players to lengthy contracts with the current CBA set to expire after the 2021 season. Who knows what the salary rules will be like in the new CBA. Currently there is a soft cap where after a certain point, teams are required to pay a luxury tax. I wouldn't mind seeing a hard cap in place because you would see more parity in the league as a team like the Yankees couldn't spend an unlimited amount of money and get all the big stars.
6. A big congratulations to former Expo Vladimir Guerrero on being inducted into the MLB hall of fame. Perhaps in 20 years or so you might see his son receive the same honor.
7. Players who should be in the Hall of fame but are not: Larry Walker, Fred McGriff, Omar Vizquel and Edgar Martinez.
8. Derek Jeter is the worst MLB owner. He had zero contact with Giancarlos Stanton prior to him being traded. Reportedly, Stanton was told to waive his no-trade clause or be stuck in Florida as the team's only star player. Jeter fired several key personnel: Jeff Conine, former manager Jack McKeon and hall of famers Andre Dawson and Tony Perez. The worst of the firings was that of longtime Marlins scout Marty Scott, who literally received the news while lying in a hospital bed recovering from colon cancer surgery.
9. The Cleveland Indians will be removing the controversial Chief Wahoo logo from their uniforms commencing the 2019 season. Used since the 1947 season in various expressions, the controversial logo has received much criticism from Native Americans and their supporters. Before home games and playoff games, protesters can be seen advocating for the Indians to remove the controversial logo. There was even a failed challenge in the Ontario courts prior to the 2016 playoff series between the Indians and Blue Jays. I do think this logo should be removed because it has offensive connotations to a group of individuals (Native Americans).
10. Gianocarlo Stanton will break Barry Bonds single season home run record this season. He had 59 HR in 2017 and he will be be playing half his games at the hitter friendly confines of Yankee Stadium.