MLB Season Starts in Dramatic Fashion

Dylan Snyder

The start of the MLB season is always surrounded by much fanfare, and this year was no exception. As opening day became opening week and teams capitalized on the increased publicity, baseball fever grasped the nation and we saw several early-season storylines come through.

One of the most shocking events occurred before the season even started when two of baseball’s biggest stars were rewarded with enormous contract extensions. Miguel Cabrera, the two time reigning American League MVP, signed a contract giving him $298 million over the next 10 years, and Mike Trout of the Angels, one of the top young players in the game, signed a six-year $148 million dollar extension. Much has been said about the 10-year monster contracts being handed out by MLB teams, citing Angels players Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton as cautionary tales, but Trout’s contract was widely applauded as a solid business move.

On the field there has been no lack of controversy, from the new replay rules, to injuries, to maturity problems to illegal substances. The MLB installed new rules to determine safe calls and the security of a catch in the field. This seems pretty straightforward, but these rules came under critique when several calls where made when a player dropped the ball when moving it from his gloved hand to his off hand. The MLB later made a statement to make a more uniform ruling, and concluded that once a player has the ball in his glove, it is a completed catch.

Injuries have also been an unfortunate side effect of early season baseball. Headlining this trend is Reds hurler Aroldis Chapman, who was struck in the side of the head with a line drive that required several hundred staples and cost him the first month of the season. There has also been a rash of Tommy John injuries (tear in a pitcher’s UCL ligament in the elbow) with several notable players going down. Notable players include Yankees up-and-comer Ivan Nova and Mets’ pitcher Bobby Parnell. More two-time players have gone under the knife for this injury since 2012 than in the 20 years prior.

On the other side of Mike Trout’s massive contract, his phenom counterpart Bryce Harper has been plagued by maturity problems. After jogging to first base on a routine ground ball, he was benched in the 6th inning of a close game. These kind of issues have been tied to Harper for his entire professional career, but never has it had an effect on his on field performance. It also led to an awkward program cover, as a picture of Harper was accompanied by the caption “Nothing but hustle.”

Any issues that may have come up between Harper and the team will now get put on the back burner as thumb surgery will sideline the young star until July.

Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda has been caught with illegal substances during a game not once but twice already this season. In the first incident, he had large globs of pine tar sitting on his hand, but nothing was ever made of it. The second time he had an illicit substance on his neck and was ejected from the game. For these actions, Pineda was suspended for the next 10 games.

It has been an interesting season so far for the MLB, and we aren’t even a fifth of the way through the year. If the next chapters of the season are as exciting as its opener, we are in for quite a treat down the stretch heading into October.