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Thinking Outside the Batter's Box: Baseball sure to excite fans in 2014

Thinking Outside The Batter's Box is a blog about baseball published every week.
Thinking Outside The Batter’s Box is a blog about baseball published every week.

by Jacob Gurvis
Major League Baseball had an exciting 2013 season. The Boston Red Sox showed that they were Boston Strong and won another championship. The Pittsburgh Pirates broke their 20-year streak of losing seasons. Legend Mariano Rivera called it quits after 19 years. Rookie phenom Yasiel Puig burst onto the scene in Hollywood and stole the attention of the entire country. Baseball agreed on new rules for 2014.
Last season was very entertaining, to say the least. But, the calendar has flipped to 2014, and there is much to look forward to, and much that MLB hopes to change in 2014. Let’s dig in.
Things to accomplish in the 2014 season
1. Put steroids to rest.
In 2013, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun made headlines when they were linked to the now-defunct Miami-based Biogenesis of America, an anti-aging clinic. Lists leaked with names of players who allegedly purchased illegal performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis. It’s time to get rid of the steroids and the lying. This is not going to be easy. Some think that baseball is doomed to have cheaters forever. While this may be true, it’s not an excuse to give up. MLB is trying to find the right way to prevent cheating and to punish players when it happens, and hopefully this year it will finally succeed.
2. Make new rules successful.
Last year, two new rules were decided for 2014 that will vastly change baseball. The full use of instant replay is now in place. Managers will be allowed to challenge umpires’ calls and potentially have incorrect calls overturned. Secondly, collisions at home plate are now outlawed, to prevent injuries. All opinions aside, it’s important to ensure that the transition is seamless, and that the rules, well, work.
3. Find a worthy candidate to replace Bud Selig.
Bud Selig has been the commissioner of baseball since 1998, and has done a phenomenal job. During his tenure, he has instituted interleague play, created the World Baseball Classic, improved baseball’s drug policies, and more. He recently signed a new collective bargaining agreement, so that there will be no lockout in the near future. He also announced that 2014 will be his last year. With Selig’s retirement, a new commissioner will be brought in to take the reins, and it is important to make sure it’s the right person. It’s an important job, and baseball needs to choose carefully.
Things to look forward to in 2014
1. Same faces, new places.
Many players were traded or signed with new teams in the offseason; it will be exciting to see players on their new teams. Robinson Cano in Seattle, Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo in Texas, and Ian Kinsler in Detroit, to name a few.
2. More surprise stars.
2013 had its share of breakout players, and 2014 is sure to as well. Who will succeed the likes of Chris Davis as the biggest surprise star of 2014?
3. New managers.
Five teams have new managers heading into 2014, and it will be fun to see how teams fare under the helm of new leaders.
4. Baseball in Australia.
On March 22 and 23, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks will play MLB’s opening series in Sydney, Australia. Baseball Down Under. Crazy, right?
5. The Red Sox.
In 2013, the Sox overcame a tragedy, went worst to first, won 97 games, and won the World Series. They lost Jacoby Ellsbury to the Yankees but still have high hopes for 2014 as they defend their championship.
6. Exciting rookies.
Puig was awesome to watch in 2013. Mike Trout and Bryce Harper stole the show in 2012. Which exciting rookies will grab our attention in 2014? Sox rookie Xander Bogaerts, anyone?
7. Instant replay.
With baseball’s new rules, it will be interesting to see how games will change now that teams can challenge calls. Umpires beware: our lack of trust in you will shine through.
8. Retiring players.
In 2013, we said goodbye to legends. Rivera, Todd Helton, and Andy Pettite all decided to hang up their cleats. Which veteran stars will call it quits this year? Derek Jeter? Jim Thome?
9. Key signings.
There are still many good players remaining on the free agent market. Nelson Cruz, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and now Masahiro Tanaka are all still available. Where will they sign this year?
10. Another exciting season.
2013 was fun, and 2014 is sure to be better. As teams get richer and players get better, our beloved game is getting more and more entertaining and intriguing. So, get out your peanuts and Cracker Jack and get ready for a great season!

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