Column: MLB set for wild season

Rob Burkett / Washburn Review

With the final horn sounded in March Madness signaling the end of the sprint to the championship, now comes the beginning of the marathon that is Major League Baseball.

Just a week into the season, there are many teams and things that have changed in the sport.

In the American League East division, there is a logjam There will be intense competition between the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays. When the race is all said and done, experience trumps youth. The Yankees will win the east division for the second year in a row.

In the AL central there isn’t much of a race. Despite the improvements by the Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins and the rest of the division, there won’t be any doubt the Detroit Tigers will run away with the division, ending the race not too long after the all-star game.

In the AL west, the Texas Rangers, who are reigning pennant champions will be finally overtaken. With the offseason acquisition of Pujols and CJ Wilson by the Angels, the Halos have put themselves in position to move past their division rivals.

With the new playoff setup, the two wild cards will come from the same division. The Rays and Red Sox will play one more time for a playoff spot. The Angels however will be in its first World Series in almost a decade.

On the senior circuit of the National League, diluted offensive talent combined with pitcher’s parks will see a very competitve year.

In the east, the Philadelphia Phillies have been the presumptive pick the last couple of seasons. This season they will be pushed harder than they usually are by the new look Marlins and the youthful Atlanta Braves. Despite the two upstarts’ improvements, the Phillies will be too much to handle and will advance.

In the central, a new landscape of players will have little effect. Despite losing the perennial all-star first baseman in Pujols, St. Louis will keep winning.

In the west, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Francisco Giants are the two teams contending for divisional supremacy. The ‘Backs will be too much for the Giants.

In the wildcard race, this will be the most wide open race of the year. With the Marlins, Braves, Nationals, Giants, Dodgers and the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates, this race will come down to the last weekend. When the dust settles, playoff baseball will return to the Steel City for the first time since a rookie named Barry Bonds suited up. The Pirates will meet up against the Braves who will be in the playoffs again after a recent absence from the postseason.

In the playoffs, it’ll be another epic fall as the Angels and the Cardinals will march on deep into October. The Angels will hoist its second World Series title.