For sports fans, the arrival of warm weather means one thing: baseball is here! And even with the first two weeks in the books, this season looks to bring excitement.
Boston Red Sox slugger and possible hall-of-fame candidate David Ortiz will retire at the end of the season. All eyes have been on Big Papi as he makes his farewell tour around the nation as one of the best hitters in the league.
Another storyline to follow this year is in the AL West division. Since the Houston Astros moved from the NL Central to the AL West, the team has seen their record skyrocket, rising from 51-111 in 2013 to 86-76 last year. This season, the Astros have added plenty of heat to their bullpen in the form of Ken Giles. The team seems to be laser-focused on winning the division.
However, the LA Angels have also boosted their club with the addition of former Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, a twotime Gold Glove winner in his first three seasons. Coupled with outfielder Mike Trout, the Angels’ defense could very well challenge the Astros and the formidable Texas Rangers, who won the division last year.
Speaking of the Braves, this is a very different look for Atlanta during the 2016 season. Fans of the team several years ago might not even recognize the majority of the names gracing the starting lineup.
Simmons, Jason Heyward, Dan Uggla, Evan Gattis, Mike Minor, Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and Brandon Beachy are no longer playing in a Braves’ uniform. In fact, the only returning players from the 2013 season — just three years ago — are starting pitcher Julio Teheran, reliever Eric O’Flaherty and first baseman Freddie Freeman.
The 2016 season is also a bittersweet one for the Braves. It is the last year the club will play at Turner Field in Atlanta, the home ballpark for the team since 1997. While in this stadium, the Braves won 9 straight division titles and appeared in a World Series. However, due to transportation and maintenance issues, a new stadium is currently being built.
The new stadium, SunTrust Park, will cost an estimated $672 million and will be in Cobb County, around 14 miles from the current location. It will hold 41,500 seats, roughly 9,000 less than Turner Field. But most importantly, it will get fans out of Atlanta traffic and provide better parking options, which should result in better overall attendance from fans.