(GAME DATE — April 4, 2022) The grass is freshly mowed. The baselines newly painted and stark white against the soothing green and rich infield dirt. The stadiums are prepped, and refreshments chilled and the food at the vendors stalls is hot and ready. The clubhouses have been scrubbed and readied, the players’ gear is all moved in.
It’s Opening Day for the 2022 baseball season — in the Bull League!
It is especially poignant given the current “IRL” situation that baseball, somewhere, is getting started. But true fans know it never really left.
The new season brings new hope and promise, especially for the teams that spent the offseason re-tooling, re-building, or even just re-thinking their approach.
The Chicago Pit Bulls and the Minneapolis Ravens should surprise no one with anticipated strong performances are very likely again, for these perennial playoff contenders. But the New York Dragons and Ohio Oxen are predicted to slip into wild card spots in the Lake League, and for the Oxen in particular, an emphasis on improving the batting and unloading rusty veteran pitchers could be the key to their success.
Over in the Metro League, the Nevada Speeders and St. Petersburg Admiral are the odds-on leaders at the end of the season, but the California Tidals and the Washington Freedom could edge out last year’s ML champs, the Calgary Inferno, and the strong Seattle Salts, to take the two wild cards if the predictions are right.
We expect strong showings from Jose Soto of the Admirals if he stays healthy, and a 17 win season could be his final tally. Chicago’s John Rambo will gun for a 3rd straight MVP if his .400 average and 60 home run prediction materializes.
But aside from the official predictions, there could be a few surprises. The Toronto Nomads had a strong, almost dominant showing through spring training, backed by stronger offense than was their usual modus operandi. Their 17-13 finished topped the LL East. Veteran outfielder Joseph Walker batted .420, and a slew of pitchers racked up the wins — Keely Sewell looked especially promising with a 4-0, 3.42 spring session through 6 starts.
The Miami Storm, just taken over at the end of spring by a new GM/manager, Dustyn Rich, saw some big games from John Heart and Tyrone O’Saurus, while stalwart pitchers Harry Ferguson and Alex Orellana escaped the spring session with sub 2.00 ERA’s and 2 wins apiece. The Storm did suffer the loss of relief arm Jonathan Garcia, who tore an elbow ligament. After a commendable 0.87 ERA, 9 K spring stretching 10.1 innings, his loss will be felt in the mid to late innings this season.
Milwaukee and Calgary could also be dark horses, after showing serious flashes of great offense throughout March.
Whatever the story that the summer weaves, it is sure to be exciting, and dramatic, as yet another baseball season gets underway and the boys of summer take to the field.