Originally written on BlackSportsOnline  |  Last updated 11/17/14
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    We are just one day removed from the commencement of the 2013 Major League Baseball season opener, and with it there’s a lot of questions to be answered. Some big movements have already transpired just days before the first pitch is due to be thrown out–the mammoth contracts given to Verlander and Buster Posey, Baseball’s move to sue the Miami biogenesis clinic which allegedly was peddling ban substances to players. And then there’s the moves on paper that have turned middle of the run teams into potential World Series contenders, like the Blue Jays, who’ve for long laid dormant in the AL East while Yankees and Red Sox reign supreme. And then there’s the revived Los Angeles Dodgers, who’ve cleared the smoke from the McCourt drama to finally bounce back and spend top dollar on every player they can get hold of. But with so many teams doing so much before the season makes it’s triumphant return, lets hone in on some of the most pressing matters hanging over the league, and ultimately decide right here and now who will win in October. Winning on Paper: Josh Hamilton to the Angels, Jose Reyes to Blue Jays, the Cabrera-Fielder tandem in Detroit, the Dodgers becoming the West Coast Yankees. Can a team really win before the season even begins? In the case of  last year’s Marlins or the Angels of 2012 who paid a fortune for Pujols, and the Phillies and Red Sox teams of recent, this has of course proven to be anything but the case. But for every disastrous free agent spending spree back fire there’s still those glimmers of hopes like the 2009 Yankees, who purchased Sabathia, Teixeira, Burnett and Nick Swisher and went out and ran the table. Will any team this year remind us, that spending money on the best really can pay off fast? The LA Dodgers spent $215 million to give their team an extreme makeover, luxury tax penalty be damned, will the investment pay off? Just like politics, the link to MLB teams and spending money is a bond which will not be broken anytime soon. Teams doling out mega contracts where they see fit is a trend that even the likes of Arod cannot stop. The Detroit Tiger’s didn’t hesistate in give a 30 year old Justin Verlander a 7 year $180 deal, despite knowing the back end of such contracts always aren’t worth it. So then why do it? The winning on paper philosophy is just as much mental as it is physical with on the field performance, the expectations to win now become magnified and when a team invests on its players instead of pocketing the profits, it does the league as a whole good and thus the sport. So who is the winning on paper contenders, let’s give a round of applause to the LA Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, Anaheim Angels and Detroit Tigers. The AL East Has Fallen: The Yankees and the Boston Red Sox have had a strangle hold on the American League as a whole for almost a decade, but their time has ended. The Yankees haven’t exactly flatlined, but with their  age catching up to them and not to mention they have almost $100 million worth of payroll on the DL currently, so their chances of being World Series darlings have become quite bleak. As for the Red Sox, last year they did the right thing by cutting off all that bloated and dysfunctional payroll to the Dodgers and committing to starting over. So with the AL East’s two biggest power houses laying wounded this year, will this be the Baltimore Orioles coming out party, after last year’s surprise efforts which kept them neck and neck with the Yankees for the division. Or will the Blue Jays click right away and instantly grab hold of things? But then there’s always the mysterious and hard fighting Tampa Bay Rays, who never say die and always have a run in them just as they’ve been counted out. The prospect of the Yankees being expected not to win more than 90 games really does leave the door wide open for any dark horse team to make a run. If recent history has been any indication, the hottest team down the stretch will hoist the trophy. Plus, with the move to the 1 game wild card round, never has parity meant so much. Conclusions: As the 2013 Baseball season dawns it is clear that the league has really become anyone’s for the taking, no need to blame obese payrolls or call the league one of have’s and have not’s when teams like the Oakland A’s, Oriole’s and Texas Rangers have been in the thick of things come fall. Will the defending champion San Francisco Giants become a dynasty and win their 3rd title in 3 years? What will the Astros move to the American League do to help the struggling franchise? Will RA Dickey’s move to the  AL East see him become a one season wonder as he duels off against a different breed of batters? Time for predictions: American League MVP: Robinson Cano CY Young: Justin Verlander Manager: Ron Washington National League MVP: Bryce Harper CY Young: Stephen Strasburg Manager: Bruce Bochy World Series Contenders: Nationals vs Tigers Nationals hoist the trophy    
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