Major League Baseball in 2006 should be a blast. Many teams this offseason have put themselves in position to succeed, while others figure to be left in the dust once again.
Here are my New Year's wishes for 2006.
World Baseball Classic – I hope it is a success. This is an event that could forever change the face of baseball internationally. However, I hope nobody gets hurt in the tournament because injuries would make players think twice about playing in it in the future.
NL West – I wish someone in this division would step up and start competing with the rest of the National League. Last year, it was the division of mediocrity. The Los Angeles Dodgers seem to have a head start on the rest of the NL West and they should walk away with the division title if they stay healthy. But that's no guarantee.
General managers – I hope you can go an entire year without players "demanding" trades. Such requests have never made sense to me. When a player signs a contract, he needs to realize that it works both ways. There needs to be a sense of loyalty from both sides.
Commissioner Bud Selig – Here's hoping that the "steroid" issue is behind baseball. You have addressed the problem, and I hope your plan continues to look out for the betterment of the game. Players should be back on a level playing field. That being said, I hope someone in the majors is able to show the world that it is still possible to steal 50 bases and hit 40 home runs the natural way. That's what an all-around player is.
Bruce Sutter and Andre Dawson – I wish you two are finally elected to the Hall of Fame. Their banishment has gone on too long. They deserve it.
Roger Clemens – I wish him another year with the Houston Astros. He's good for the game and one of the last old-school pitchers who knows how to challenge hitters inside. If he chooses to leave the Astros for another team, though, it might create a new media circus for him. That's the last thing he wants at this point in his career.
Starting pitchers – I hope we see you throw a couple of no-hitters next season. Baseball is created by history and there's nothing more special than seeing your first no-hitter. Look for Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs to have a chance at a no-no. When the wind is blowing in at Wrigley, his sinker is unhittable.
Greg Maddux – I wish Maddux has one more year in the sun. He still has the ability to win 15 to 18 games on a winning team. But are the Cubs going to win?
Major League teams – I hope you follow the blueprint of the Chicago White Sox. They play a team style of game and do the little things that help teams win. Their team attitude was very visible and that made them fun to watch. With their pitching staff, the White Sox might repeat.