Fun 80’s Metal Wacky MTV Videos and Cubs banner raising 108 years in the making

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The Cubs line up during player intros on banner night before defeating the Dodgers 3-2 in an NLCS rematch at Wrigley Field. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy Cubs.

So, I was sitting downstairs in the entertainment room with the TV on. A flat screen like so many other spoiled people. But we’re a family. So, we take turns watching and share.

I was mostly locked in on the Cubs epic banner raising ceremony 108 years in the making. Rain delayed the game about an hour at Wrigley Field. Once it got going, boy was it something to behold. I’m not a Cubs fan. I’m not from Chicago and have never been there. But watching the festivities along with the nice scenery at one of the oldest ballparks, I concluded I need to get to Wrigley. Bookmark that.

My favorite part was following the awesome player introductions for both the Dodgers and Cubs in an NLCS rematch, seeing all-time Cubs greats Fergie Jenkins, Billy Dee Williams and Ryne Sandberg help raise not one banner but two. They first did a banner for 1908. The last one before they came back to defeat the Indians from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series in 2016. Then as every great sports movie soundtrack played including favorite themes from Rudy and The Natural, up went the 2016 World Championship banner by the ivy on ESPN. Wow.

Maybe it’s the historian in me. When it comes down to it, I appreciate the history of sports. Seeing the Cubs finally get to do a banner raising was one of the coolest moments. I can only put it on par with the Rangers finally raising the Stanley Cup banner honoring ’93-94 after waiting 54 years for their fourth championship. Think about this. That is half as long as Cubs fans waited. That defines crazy and explains the fandom. They have a great team capable of repeating. We’ll get into that another time.

What’s great is that you had Anthony Rizzo marching out the World Championship trophy as the Cubs all came down the stairs following the ceremony in from the outfield. It was really well done. Even more appropriately, Wayne Messmer performed an unreal edition of the star spangled banner. He used to be a regular at Blackhawks games along with the White Sox and Bears. To hear Dad tell it, there was no one better than Messmer when it came to our national anthem. I had never seen him perform live. But watched classic videos on You Tube. My favorite current anthem singers are John Amirante and Jim Cornelison. Amirante used to do O Canada and the Star Spangled Banner frequently at MSG before being phased out. He’s 82. Cornelison replaced Messmer at Hawks games. He is terrific.

If there is one more thing I loved, it was the organ playing during the intros. It really gave it an old school feel. The organ is something that isn’t used enough at games. I have always enjoyed it. Now, arenas and stadiums blast music through the sound system as if it’s some deejay event or concert. It’s a game. The organ has a nice touch. It’s soothing and whispers to you that a good event is coming, building anticipation.

As for the game, eventually it was played. The Cubs won 3-2 over the Dodgers on Rizzo’s walk off single in the home half of the ninth plating Jon Jay. His first run batted in of the season was a clutch two out game-winner. What you’d expect from one of the National League’s best players. He finished in the top four for MVP last year. An award won by teammate Kris Bryant, whose double plated the game’s first run off Alex Wood.

The Cubs scratched out an unearned run too due to an E9 from Yasiel Puig. Chicago ace Jon Lester’s RBI fielder’s choice put them ahead 2-0. But the Dodgers were able to come back late. Corey Seager’s RBI double scored Joc Pederson in the sixth. They would tie it in the eighth with an unearned run due to an E6 from Addison Russell. Two of the game’s best teams combined for five errors.

Seager is an emerging star who won NL Rookie Of The Year and finished third for MVP. He’s a unique talent at short with great bat speed and terrific instincts. He’s everything Pederson isn’t. I would know. I drafted Joc in the first year of my Franchise League in the minors before trading him and then getting him back and keeping him. I keep thinking he’ll figure it out. But he still can’t hit lefties batting way down in the lineup when he starts. He also had a key at bat with the bases loaded and nobody out against Justin Grimm. Pederson let Grimm off the hook missing his pitch on a 3-2 count with a weak pop up to short right which prevented a run from scoring. He should’ve crushed it. Instead, Grimm escaped a bases loaded no out jam getting Carl Edwards, Jr. off the hook when he induced an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.

While Pederson remains an unfinished product, leave it to me to not insert Michael Pineda on the one day he pitched up to his talent. On Yankees Opening Day at Yankee Stadium in the home opener, Pineda was the story taking a perfect game into the seventh inning. Yankee killer Evan Longoria broke it up with a double down the left field line. Pineda was brilliant pitching into the eighth inning allowing only one earned run on a solo shot from Logan Morrison while fanning 11. That is the kind of quality outing that can get Yankee fans on his side. It’s about finding consistent. The talent is there. Let’s hope this gives him the confidence boost he needs.

The Yankees had plenty of offense. Aaron Judge went yard for the second straight day for home run number two, driving a hanging curve into left field 10 rows back. With Gary Sanchez officially sidelined a month, the Bronx Bombers need Judge to produce along with Greg Bird, who should be good to go in a couple of days. For now, quality backup catcher Austin Romine is starting with prospect Kyle Higashioka up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Down two starters on the infield with shortstop Didi Gregorius also missing April, the Yanks have gotten nice contributions from 24-year old utility man Ronald Torreyes. He’s filled in admirably at short while hitting a home run and driving in eight to lead the team.

For now, skipper Joe Girardi has gone back to the 1-2 of Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the order. They’re both off to good starts with Gardner swiping two more bases to hike his total to five while scoring two runs. Ellsbury is hitting .348 with a homer and two RBI’s. Matt Holliday, who recently became a member of the 2,000 hit club, had a pair of hits and his fifth RBI. So far, so good for the proven veteran. Starlin Castro went yard for the first time parking one to right center. One of three long balls the Yanks hit. Chase Headley got the other for number two. With two straight wins, the Yanks are 3-5 and at least can cool off some of the panic from the April Mattahs crowd.

The Mets won in Philadelphia 4-3. Jay Bruce continues to swing a hot bat going deep twice. That included the go-ahead game-winning two-run bomb for his fourth dinger. Remember all that talk about them dumping him in the off-season. Sometimes, the best moves are the ones you don’t make. Even though Terry Collins must fit Michael Conforto into the lineup when he can. Jacob de Grom got a no decision despite grinding out six innings while allowing two earned with two walks and three strikeouts. Addison Reed earned his second save in two nights pitching around a solo home run from Brock Stassi in the Phils’ ninth.

Among the notables, Bryce Harper went 4-for-4 with with two runs and three RBI’s along with six total bases in a Nationals’ 14-6 win over the Cardinals. Stephen Drew had three hits and four RBI’s. Seriously. Khris Davis is up to four homers already as Oakland shutout Kansas City 2-0. Wil Myers became just the second Padre to hit for the cycle highlighting a 5-3 win over the Rockies. He hit his third home run and is up to seven RBI’s.

As the Cubs and Dodgers moved at a snails pace, I flipped on MTV Classic between breaks to catch Metal Mayhem. Just your classic hour of cheesy and classy metal videos full of electric guitar shredding, drum beats and edgy lyrics. I still can’t believe they mixed in Suicidal Tendencies in a weird video where the lead singer talked in gibberish like a pre-Henry Rollins. It had its moments. A throwback Guns N’ Roses live concert from 1988 with the original band performing a stirring rendition of “Welcome To The Jungle.”

There also was the underrated “Fallen Angel” from Poison along with “Youth Gone Wild” from Skid Row in their debut album with Sebastian Bach screaming his lungs out. I had never seen this one from Twisted Sister before. It was released as a single in 1987. It’s called “Hot Love” featuring Dee Snider’s hot wife Suzette:

What would a Metal Mayhem be without an appearance from Diamond Dave? You betcha! David Lee Roth when he went solo after a bad break up with Van Halen. It’s Yankee Rose. A hilarious satirical look at immigration in the intro along with stereotypes. Imagine if this video aired now. The ridiculous overreaction it would get. Music shouldn’t be censored. That whole thing with Tipper Gore and Snider testifying in court was crap.

Anyway, you get all these crazy characters in a convenience store with an immigrant behind the register. Then David Lee Roth recites the classic line:

“I’ll take a bottle of anything and a glazed donut to go!”

Of course, the scene shifts to Diamond Dave on stage shouting, “Whoa!!!!! She’s beautiful!” What a comedian he was. Great presence. He had fun. Eddie Van Halen didn’t. Remember that reunion disaster as presenters at the VMA’s? Here is the song from Mr. Roth:

Yeah. 80’s metal was epic. 😀

Stan the Man: Wawrinka bests Djokovic to win U.S. Open

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Stan the Man: New U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka celebrates during his big four set win over world number one Novak Djokovic in what was a fantastic and grueling men’s final. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy Tennis.com on Twitter.

Just call him Stan the Man. The hard working third seeded 31-year old Swiss who’s played in the shadow of Roger Federer won his first ever U.S. Open. In a captivating match that had plenty of mental and physical battles, Stan Wawrinka came back to defeat top ranked Novak Djokovic in four sets, 6-7 (1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 at a boisterous Ashe Stadium.

In winning his third major, Wawrinka has now captured the Australian, French and U.S. Open. Two have come after turning 30 including Roland Garros in ’15 and Flushing Meadows on Sunday. Aside from going three-for-three in his first three major finals, he’s won an astonishing 11 consecutive finals on the ATP Tour. A streak he continued by getting the better of the game’s best player.

Despite an odd road to another final in Queens that included a walkover, two retirements and a bizarre four set semifinal win over the perplexing Gael Monfils, Djokovic had a chance to win three of four slams a second straight year, which would’ve further cemented his place as one of the game’s all-time best. He still owns 12 slams including this year’s Australian and French- his first which completed a career grand slam. It wasn’t meant to be for the weary world number one ranked Serbian who had two treatments for blisters in the fourth set. He clearly was hobbled but showed plenty of heart forcing Wawrinka to earn it.

“This is amazing,” an emotional Wawrinka told the crowd during the on court presentation on a special day which commemorated the 15-year Anniversary of September 11, 2001. “I came here without expecting to win it. When I stepped on the court, I tried to win every match. I did everything today against Novak. The crowd and atmosphere was something I’ve never had before. It’s an amazing night.”

On this night, it was Wawrinka who was the better player. As a classy Djokovic said during his runner-up interview, he was the ‘more courageous player.’ Indeed, Wawrinka was better on the big points, saving an incredible 14 of 17 break points against the game’s best returner. He also was more opportunistic, converting on six of ten break chances.

The difference was actually his defense. Normally a huge edge to the gritty Djokovic, it went to Wawrinka, who found ways to stay in points when he was pinned behind the baseline. He also went bigger crushing 46 winners compared to Djokovic’s 30. Both committed their share of unforced errors with Wawrinka having 51 while Djokovic made 46. A lot of the mistakes were due to some grueling rallies where each player never gave up on points or the other’s serve. It had that kind of feel. No wonder the four set match took three hours and 54 minutes to complete. Imagine if there was a fifth set. What would they have had left?

A much sharper Djokovic came out firing on all cylinders by quickly breaking a flat Wawrinka in the second game. He then held for a 3-0 lead. Wawrinka was misfiring wildly from the baseline. His normally unflappable and clutch one-handed backhand- the best in the sport- was missing. It was that clutch shot he made on a match point in a third round win over Daniel Evans that kept him alive long enough to win a tiebreak and pull out a five set win. He then needed four sets in the next two rounds including an emotional quarterfinal victory over former ’09 Open champ Juan Martin Del Potro in a Davis Cup atmosphere. He also fought back from a set down to overpower Kei Nishikori in the semis.

To his credit, Wawrinka regained his composure. Finding the form that has always made him a “big match player” according to Djokovic, he worked his way back in the first set eventually breaking back. Even with momentum entering the tiebreak, he dropped the breaker 7-1. There were two incredible points back-to-back. The first, Wawrinka won with both players scrambling from baseline to net with him able to knock off a volley into an open court. The next point saw Djokovic at his defensive best, going on the full run to hit a perfect backhand up the line for a huge winner. He would then cruise to take a one set lead.

Despite falling behind, Wawrinka started the second set by going up an early break on Djokovic, jumping out to a 4-1 lead. His bigger ground game seemed to be getting to Djokovic. But the resilient two-time Open winner valiantly fought back with a break of his own, eventually squaring the set at 4-all. Knowing he needed to hold, Wawrinka gamely held for 5-4. In the 10th game, he was able to break Djokovic to square the match.

The third set was wild and unpredictable. There were three breaks of serve, speaking to just how competitive each service game was. It was again Wawrinka early in the set who jumped in front due to unconscious winners from both sides. Whether it be his lethal one-handed backhand either cross court or down the line or his forehand also down the line, he was the more brave player. Something Djokovic referenced afterwards.

“I lost my nerves in the important moments. He kept his cool. I think that’s what decided the match. I just didn’t capitalize at all on my opportunities. I had plenty of them. It was a terrible conversion of the break points. Just terrible from my side,” the always honest world number one assessed.

“In matches like these, if you don’t use the opportunities, the other guy comes and takes it. And that’s what he did. That’s why I said he was more courageous, because he stepped in and played aggressive where I was waiting for things to happen.”

Despite Wawrinka outslugging him 18-8 in winners during a long third set that needed over an hour, a determined Djokovic began pushing Wawrinka wide. The change in strategy helped him claw back in the set with a break of serve. It also put his opponent more on the defensive, drawing 19 unforced errors. After fighting off two break points in a momentum shifting service game late in the third set, Wawrinka seized the moment in the 12th game. With Djokovic trailing 5-6 and trying to force a tiebreak, it was a persistent Wawrinka who took the game to deuce. He played two strong points by changing the pace. Instead of hitting full out, he threw change ups at Djokovic which drew errors to take the set. As is his trademark, he pointed to the temple after going up a set.
When he went up an early break and jumped out to 3-0 in the fourth, it looked like the end. It was in Djokovic’s first service game that during an extended point, he pulled up and felt a twinge. Clearly hurting, he struggled and dropped serve. Despite trailing 0-3, he didn’t call for the trainer for a medical timeout. With it apparent that he was cramping, ESPN’s Patrick McEnroe noted that a player cannot use a timeout for cramps. Following a brave hold for 1-3, it was then that a limping Djokovic approached the chair umpire and asked for a timeout to treat another injury.
During the stoppage which came with Wawrinka about to serve, he protested. The rules say an injured player should wait until their serve for a medical timeout. So, he was right. Something both McEnroe and Brad Gilbert reemphasized as did John McEnroe. The injury turned out to be legit. Djokovic was suffering from blisters, which from the ESPN camera were quite ugly. They didn’t need to give a close up on the second treatment with it visibly showing a bloody toe. Curt Schilling would’ve been proud.
When play resumed, it was Djokovic who applied the pressure. He earned two more break chances to get back on serve. But a feisty Wawrinka fought both off and eventually held in a game that took about seven minutes to lead 4-1. Despite not showing much wear and tear despite being on the court double of Djokovic for the tournament, he later admitted the obvious.

“Today I was trying to stay with him,” Wawrinka told reporters in a press conference. “I was trying to be tough with myself, trying not to show anything, not to show any pain, not to show any cramps, not to show anything. I was suffering on the court, but I’m happy and proud with what I have achieved today.”

His persistence paid off. He really earned it. After a comfortable hold for 5-2, Wawrinka was forced to serve it out by a courageous Djokovic, who held for 3-5. Consecutive tight points allowed the packed stadium to believe Djokovic had a chance of forcing a fifth set. But after trailing Love-30, it was Wawrinka who won the final four points to win his third slam.

At the net, the two embraced. Djokovic, who apologized to Wawrinka during his first medical treatment, had some kind words for Stan. When asked about it by ESPN on court presenter Tom Rinaldi, he sarcastically didn’t reveal it to chuckles. The respect and warmth the two displayed was great. Wawrinka paid homage to Djokovic calling him a “great champion,” while also receiving his winner’s check of $3.5 million and the trophy.

Wawrinka made sure to thank his coach Magnus Norman, parents and girlfriend Donna Vekic. The pretty 20-year old WTA player smiled and hugged her man when he climbed up to celebrate the big win in his players’ box.

Despite seeing a wounded Djokovic at less than peak form, he showed tremendous heart. That’s what makes him so tough to beat. He still made it a thriller which almost went four hours.

In the end, Wawrinka was the better and more deserving player. One who joined legends Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi as players who have won multiple slams after turning 30. Agassi won five of his eight after 30 including three Australians.

It’s good for tennis to see Wawrinka reemerge after a tough year at the slams. He reached the semis at the French but was ousted before the quarters at the Australian and Wimbledon. Next year, he’ll turn 32 on March 28. He’s still getting better. A scary aspect for the rest of the field. He’s a Wimbledon shy of a career grand slam. Figure him to fare better than the second round when a returning Del Potro got him in four sets.

In what was a great tournament, you had a top four player win. Our pick Andy Murray disappointed by losing in five sets to the pesky Nishikori, who rallied from two sets to one down. The 2014 runner-up put everyone on notice that he’s still a factor. As for 14-time slam champion Rafael Nadal, it’s hard to say if he can win another one. Health will be the key. Don’t forget Roger Federer, who will return next season fresh after realizing his knee wasn’t fully recovered. Milos Raonic was a finalist at Wimbledon.

The men’s field remains as competitive as ever. With the talented Monfils, Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga having never won a major and up and coming 22-year old Frenchman Lucas Pouille looking like a threat, it should only become tougher.

The game is in great shape for the present and future.

U.S. Open 2016: McEnroe blasts Kyrgios

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An injured Nick Kyrgios is treated by a trainer during a disappointing third round exit at the U.S. Open. He withdrew losing to Illya Marchenko 4-6, 6-4, 6-1. AP Photo courtesy Live Tennis via Getty Images

During ESPN’s telecast of a men’s third round match won by 28-year old Ukrainian Illya Marchenko in a shortened three sets due to frustrating but talented Aussie Nick Kyrgios retiring due to a hip injury at Ashe Stadium, John McEnroe blasted the 16th seed.

With both John and younger brother Patrick McEnroe referencing Kyrgios’ lack of a coach or trainer, each questioned his commitment. The 21-year old remains a polarizing enigma with the potential to be a top 5 player capable of winning a major. They also made sure to mention a recent hard court tournament in Washington he was forced to pull out of due to the same injury. However, it didn’t stop Johnny Mac from some big criticism of Australia’s top ranked player.

“If you don’t want to be out there, don’t do it anymore,” McEnroe stated following Kyrgios’ injury that forced him to withdraw trailing the 63rd ranked Marchenko two sets to one 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Kyrgios received two treatments by a trainer including one between sets. His lateral movement was definitely an issue in the final two sets. The injury limited his mobility during extended rallies. He tried to go for broke, hitting harder from the baseline to keep points short. But Marchenko was able to extend rallies and hit winners or draw errors from a wounded Kyrgios. He had never before been past the second round in any grand slam before this year’s U.S. Open. Now, he’ll play Stan Wawrinka in the Round of 16. The third seed needed five sets and saved two match points to overcome unseeded Brit Daniel Evans.

 “I feel sorry for Nick,” a pleased Marchenko said during an on court post match interview.

“But it’s a dream come true. A win is a win and a win here on Ashe is a very special feeling for me. … I cannot explain how happy I am.”

While Marchenko has the chance of a lifetime to make his first ever slam quarterfinal, a frustrated Kyrgios explained to reporters that he felt the hip injury and got through his first two matches. He didn’t drop a set entering last night. He served 11 aces to win the first set 6-4. Altogether, he had 18 and only four double faults. However, a crucial drop of serve on some poor shots allowed Marchenko to break and then hold serve to level the match.

By then, Kyrgios wasn’t always able to give his all every point. It’s easy to critique due to his history. He has a reputation for sometimes retiring due to injuries. There have also been moments during big matches where tennis analysts have questioned his tactics.

The biggest takeaway from Kyrgios’ disappointment was that both McEnroes wondered if he’s training as hard as the other remaining 16 men in the Round of 16. Without a coach or trainer, it’s easy to question his commitment. However, you can’t deny his talent. He has the capability to beat almost anyone.

It was in 2014 at Wimbledon when a young teenage phenom upset Rafael Nadal with relative ease, advancing to his first ever major quarterfinal. It was during that same tournament where as a wildcard he rallied from two sets down to stun Richard Gasquet by saving nine match points. Kyrgios was eliminated in four sets by Milos Raonic. The following year, he also made the quarters at the Australian Open, becoming the first male teenager to make two slam quarters since Roger Federer. Andy Murray ousted him in straights. It was also Murray who took out Kyrgios in the fourth round at this year’s Wimbledon en route to winning his second trophy at the All England Club.

For the year, Kyrgios has had his most successful season. He’s 33-13 and will move up to a career high number 15 in the ATP rankings despite the loss to Marchenko. He won his first two ATP titles including Atlanta where he bested hometown hero John Isner in two tiebreaks. Kyrgios also won in France sweeping Gasquet, Tomas Berdych and former 2014 U.S. Open champ Marin Cilic in straights.

Looking back, Andre Agassi had all the talent in the world when he first came up. At a similar age, one of America’s best players was making deep runs at the French Open and U.S. Open. Even though he fell short losing a pair of grand slam finals as a teenager, Agassi was also criticized for not always giving his best effort. Back then, he was known for tanking sets. He also lost to opponents he was favored to beat. Most notably Andres Gomez in the 1990 French Open Final. Then underdog Pete Sampras swept him in three sets at the ’90 U.S. Open. A year later, he fell short against rising American star Jim Courier. Another final at Roland Garros he was expected to win.

Shockingly, Agassi’s first slam came at Wimbledon in ’92. It took until he was 22 to finally break through. In only his second appearance on grass, he went through a tough draw that included John McEnroe, Boris Becker and then needed five sets to beat Goran Ivanisevic for the title. Interestingly, he again took a downturn before rising up to win his second major in ’94 at the U.S. Open. At the time, he was unseeded. Agassi became the first unseeded man to win the Open, defeating Michael Stich in the final.

The difference for Agassi was hiring Brad Gilbert as coach. Their partnership resulted in him reaching number one in 1995. He won more slams eventually completing the career grand slam by capturing the French Open in ’99, rallying from two sets down to beat Andrei Medvedev. His career had peaks and valleys due to a bad wrist and the later reveal in his book that he used crystal meth.

Not everyone is cut out of the same cloth. With Kyrgios, he shows emotion and sometimes curses. He’s very moody. At times, he makes the game look easy with scintillating shots like the unreal backhand slice drop shot winner around the net on the full run against Marchenko. Unfortunately, there are times where he leaves you wanting more. With maturity, he can reach his full potential. The ball’s in his court.

Flex’s top 50 most important baseball players

Clayton Kershaw

So, we were reading a Boston Globe columnist’s top 50 list of most important baseball players for the new 2016 season. After seeing the retiring David Ortiz at number eight, I was convinced to come up with my own list.

Rather than do it in writing form, I decided to randomly type each one in our off the wall Facebook Group chat. Here it is folks. Unedited. Flex’s top 50 ballplayers for 2016!

1.Jason Heyward-Cubs paid top dollar for outfielder with big WAR to reach World Series.

2.Jake Arrieta-Cubs ace had incredible 2nd half edging Greinke for first NL Cy Young. Can he duplicate 2015?
3.David Price-Big money ace brought into Boston to lead Red Saaahhhxxx to first.
4.Bryce Harper-Is Nats NL MVP star ready to lead talented ball club under Dusty Baker?
5.Zach Greinke-NL Cy runner up leaves Hollywood for Arizona richer with more pressure.
6.Giancarlo Stanton-How much of a impact will Barry Bonds make on baseball’s best slugger in Miami?
7.Clayton Kershaw-The league’s best pitcher has added pressure without Greinke for the Dodgers.
8.Mike Trout-Most dominant player must carry a flawed Angels roster.
9.Dallas Keuchel-Rating AL Cy Young was fantastic last year. Can he repeat with bigger expectations?
10.Miguel Cabrera-The forgotten former MVP can rake if healthy but do Tigers have enough?
11.Kris Bryant-The NL’s top rookie is expected to lead the Cubs to a World Series.
12.Adam Wainwright-How much can the healthy Cards’ ace add to a still quality team that lot Heyward and Lackey?
13.Madison Bumgarner-Even with addition of Cueto, the Giants’ chances in an even year depend on the arm of MadBum.
14.Josh Donaldson-The youngest of the Jays’ big boppers who won MVP needs a repeat.
15.Mark Melancon-Probably the best closer, the Pirates are depending on another big year.
16.Yoenis Cespedes-His impact last year is the biggest reason the Mets won the division. Will the pressure of a new contract get to him?
17.Wade Davis-The new Royals closer had a run for the ages resulting in a World Championship. Has all the tools to be dominant.
18.Aroldis Chapman-When the Yanks rolled the dice on the troubled former Reds fireballer, the message was sent that they plan to turn games into six innings. Will it work?
19.Matt Harvey-Even if he’s not the Met with the highest ceiling or staying power due to his massive ego, he’s the guy who wants the ball. Can he win 20 and challenge for a Cy Young?
20.Jose Fernandez-Probably the best young starter who flies under the radar due to playing for Miami. If healthy, watch out.
21.Carlos Correa-The Astros young shortstop has all the makings of a superstar who can lead franchise to first championship.
22.Justin Upton-Was brought in by the Tigers to make their lineup even more potent as they’ll still have to outscore opponents even with addition of Zimmerman.
23.Gerrit Cole-The overlooked ace could challenge for the Cy Young and lead the Pirates to the top of the NL Central and higher than a wildcard play in.
24.Andrew McCutchen-The former MVP is still one of the best players in baseball and the Pirates’ most important star.
25.Yu Darvish-When he returns, how good will he be with ace Cole Hamels at the top of the Rangers’ rotation?
26.Paul Goldschmidt-Should be higher but with the loss of Pollock, can the preseason MVP pick carry the Diamondbacks to a division title?
27.Stephen Strasburg-It’s the big arm of the potential free agent in a walk year who can determine the Nats’ season even with Scherzer.
28.Robby Cano-First two years have been disappointing but the All-Star second baseman is poised for a bounce back season.
29.Mookie Betts-In Big Papi’s final season, the young center fielder could blossom into a MVP candidate and win a Gold Glove.
30.Jose Bautista-No one has more pressure to perform in a critical walk year that could land the Jays’ slugger a huge payday which could take him to 40.
31.Adam Jones-The Orioles have no pitching but they sure can rake and are led by the combo of Davis and the All-Star center fielder.
32.Buster Posey-The game’s best catcher could be poised for another MVP run on a good San Francisco roster.
33.Corey Seager-It’s the Dodgers’ shortstop phenom who can determine what kind of season they have under new skipper Dave Roberts.
34.Mark Teixeira-Is the Yankees’ most indispensable player because he plays a Gold Glove caliber first and should hit 35 home runs and drive over 100 if healthy.
35.Dee Gordon-The best combination of hitting and speed at second on a Marlins club with potential under new skipper Don Mattingly.
36.Sonny Gray-Had a superb 2015 but finished poorly. Can he put together another big year on a flawed Oakland club or will he become the latest former A?
37.Nolan Arenado-Plays in obscurity in Coors Field and is undoubtedly one of the game’s best stars who is not only tremendous offensively but defensively at the hot corner.
38.Jose Altuve-The AL version of Gordon at second who is tough to get out and can drive opposing pitchers and catchers crazy.
39.Craig Kimbrel-Red Sox’ big move was giving up a ransom for former Padres’ closer bolstering bullpen.
40.Noah Syndergaard-It’s this young Mets’ hurler they stole along with D’Arnaud for Dickey that has the highest ceiling.
41.Chris Sale-Unfortunately one of game’s best lefties pitches in obscurity for disappointing White Sox but for how long?
42.Chris Archer-Is this the year the young Rays’ flamethrower challenges for a Cy Young?
43.Matt Carpenter-Is the unquestioned leader of the Cards who does a bit of everything minus the big contract that former teammate Heyward got.
44.Joey Votto-His offensive talent is a constant with the big Reds’ first baseman good for .300 plus 30 dingers and 100 RBI’s.
45.Carlos Carrasco-The best of the young talented starters that the Indians are counting on to challenge the Royals.
46.Michael Brantley-The best offensive player on the Indians starts on the DL due to offseason shoulder surgery. They need him for any chance.
47.Felix Hernandez-Should be higher. King Felix remains one of the AL’s best starters who gives the Mariners quality once every five days. When will it come together for Seattle?
48.Anthony Rizzo-The Cubs’ first base slugger should again be good for 30+ homers and over 100 knocked in while challenging for NL MVP.
49.Jeurys Familia-There is no World Series run for the Mets without their closer, who must overcome a bad Spring and prove he’s legit.
50.Maikel Franco-The one bright light in a rebuilding year for the Phillies who could explode with 30 homers and 90 RBI’s.
Omissions
51.Jacob de Grom
52.Max Scherzer
53.Carlos Gonzalez
54.Marcus Stroman
55.Nelson Cruz
56.Anthony Rendon
57.Prince Fielder
58.Lorenzo Cain
59.Salvador Perez
60.Joc Pederson
61.Shelby Miller
62.Stephen Piscotty
63.Addison Russell
64.Jon Lester
65.Kolten Wong
66.Todd Frazier
67.Michael Sano
68.Byron Buxton
69.Corey Kluber
70.Jason Kipnis
71.Edwin Encarnacion
72.Antonio Osuna
73.Xander Boegarts
74.Alex Rodriguez
75.Andrew Miller
76.Dellin Betances
77.Manny Machado
78.Chris Davis
79.David Ortiz
80.Alex Gordon