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Top 10 Things to Know About the American League for the 2012 Season
No fans are more dedicated to following their sport than baseball fans. With a six-month season that has a total of 162 games, you have to be dedicated. Now that spring training has started, questions are starting to pop up.
With opening day right around the corner, here are the 10 biggest storylines in the American League heading into the 2012 season:
1. Mariano Rivera: Will Mother Nature finally catch up to the Yankees great?
At some point, Mother Nature has to come calling for the 42-year-old veteran closer. He certainly has showed no signs of slowing down in the 2011 season as he saved 44 games and had an ERA of just 1.91. Rivera has hinted towards possible retirement after the 2012 season.
2. Rangers: Will third time be a charm?
Odds say no, but you can never count out the Rangers' bats once the postseason starts. If the Rangers advance to their third straight World Series and lose, they would become the first team to do so since the New York Giants did it way back in 1911, 1912, and 1913.
3. Yoenis Cepedes: Can he live up to the enormous hype?
Outside of a few YouTube videos, nobody is sure how good Cepedes really is. The Oakland Athletics are counting he's as good as all the hype suggests. A's general manager Billy Beane has put his reputation on the line with giving this great unknown a four-year, $36-million contract.
4. Joe Mauer: Will the former All-Star get Twins fans' respect again?
When Mauer signed the huge contract extension before the 2010 season, it was praised as one of baseball's feel-good stories. A hometown hero stays with small-market Twins. But then injuries started to mount for Mauer and the boo birds came out in droves.
5. Detroit Tigers: Nothing less than a World Series will satisfy Tigers fans.
No team made a bigger splash in the new year than the Tigers when they signed free agent first baseman Prince Fielder to a nine-year contract worth $214 million. Saying expectations are high in the motor city is putting it lightly.
6. Albert Pujols: Can Prince Albert live up to expectations?
After leading the Cardinals to a pair of World Series championships, Pujols took the largest free-agent offer and took his services to Los Angeles to play for the Angels. When a player signs a 10-year, $254-million contract, the team that signs him expects results.
7. Bobby Valentine: Will the controversial manager lead the Red Sox back to the postseason?
To say there is pressure on being the manager of the Red Sox is putting it lightly. Former manager Terry Francona won two World Series championships and was fired just three years later. For Valentine to survive more than one season, he must get the Red Sox back to the playoffs in 2012.
8. Robin Ventura: More then a "yes" man for White Sox's front office?
When White Sox general manager Kenny Williams replaced the controversial Ozzie Guillen with the more quiet Robin Ventura, fans and media screamed. How could Ventura not be "yes" man? The former All-Star has never managed at any level of baseball, let alone manage at the big league level. All Ventura has to do to change the naysayers' minds is win.
9. Kevin Youkilis: Can the leader of the Red Sox come back from 2011 injuries?
For the Red Sox to get back to the postseason in 2012, they must have leader Kevin Youkilis. When Youkilis went down with injuries in 2011, the Red Sox's postseason dreams went down right along with him.
10. Kansas City Royals: Is 2012 the year the Royals make it back to the postseason?
No team has more exciting young players than the Royals. With young stars like Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon, expectations are high for the Royals. If the Royals can make it to the 2012 postseason, it will be the first time since 1985, when they won their last World Series.
Del Yates is a 3rd generation Cleveland Indians fan. He grew up watching the team and has attended dozens of games.
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