The 2021 Major League Baseball season has gotten off to a fun start for many. From the budding rivalry between two west foes in the Los Angeles market, the Dodgers and Padres, to the rebirth of teams like the Red Sox and Phillies, there are plenty of great early storylines around the league.
Today we give you five feel-good storylines from around the Majors as teams try to contend in their respective divisions.
1. The NL West
In this five-team division, there are four teams currently within 2.5 games of each other, making it a tight race just about every night that there’s a divisional showdown.
The Dodgers, who won the World Series a year ago, along with the Padres, who are up and coming with a number of offseason roster moves, appear to be the cream of the crop at this point.
— Bally Sports San Diego (@BallySportsSD) May 5, 2021
That doesn’t mean that the San Francisco Giants (who are currently in 1st with a mark of 18-12) can’t be overlooked. Then there are the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are in fourth in the division with a mark of 15-14, sitting 2.5 back of the Giants for the NL West divisional lead.
2. Enjoy It While You Can
While MLB has taken on a sense of normalcy by scheduling a 162-game season, we will all likely have a much better idea by October where the league stands about the start of the 2022 season.
The looming expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement has everyone on edge, and frankly, fans of Major League Baseball deserve better.
It’s not a stretch for the sides to sit down and work this all out so that 2022 can move on like a normal season. It’s also likely that any chatter between the two sides WON’T happen at all, and there will be a lot of tears shed by fans as they sit back and wait for the sides to get things settled.
It was just last summer when the sides were finally able to get on the same page, and the season, despite being just 60 days, brought out a new set to rules that now have to be reconsidered.
In baseball, everything is always easier said than done.
3. Bieber on Fire
Cleveland Indians ace Shane Bieber is off to another tremendous start in 2021, leading the American League in strikeouts (68). He has six quality starts (tied with Kyle Gibson of Texas), and he’s 3-2 with a solid 2.76 ERA.
Bieber has been excellent, just like he was when he came out of nowhere in the 2020 campaign and eventually took home the AL Cy Young award.
The 25-year-old doesn’t have the same rotation with Mike Clevinger and others behind him like he did a year ago, but he still competes on a nightly basis and comes out and does whatever he can to record outs.
Bieber has been a great story the last two years for Cleveland, and at 25, he should have a long career ahead of him.
4. A Couple Afterthoughts Have Stepped Up
Two teams, one from the NL and one from the AL, have actually played a lot better than many predicted they would.
Now before you go putting down deposits on postseason tickets, know that the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates have a LONG way to go before they are a true challenge to the top teams in their respective divisions.
The Red Sox are 18-12, and right now they are 2.5 games up on both the Yankees and Rays in the always tight AL East.
Moving over to the NL Central, one team that no one could have imagined competing is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who sit in last place but are just three games under .500 at 13-16.
Both these teams still have a lot of growing pains to deal with over the last five months of the season, but they are playing ‘over’ their heads thus far and should be proud of their efforts in the first month and a half of the regular season.
5. Give Them Credit
The Toronto Blue Jays are .500 28 games into the 2021 season, sitting at 14-14 after a short season in 2020 in which they went 32-28, four games over .500.
This season, the Jays seem more focused, and the team did get the good news on Wednesday that they will move out of Dunedin, Florida, where they have played their ‘home’ games from the start of the season. They will now move closer to home, returning to Buffalo’s renovated Sahlen Field.
The first home series for the Jays will start with a five-game homestand against the Miami Marlins and Houston Astros, according to reports.
The Jays could’ve simply blamed their circumstances if they’d slipped up, but instead they’ve been competitive, playing exactly .500 baseball about 30 games into 2021.
Let’s see whether the Jays can maintain their success, or if they are doomed to failure, especially if they have to keep playing their games on the ‘road’ in 2021.