The Buzzer

It's never too early to talk baseball, right?

Opening Day is less than two weeks away — sort of. And while it may still be chilly (read: bitterly cold) wherever you're reading this, hopefully these early predictions for the 2019 MLB season will get you in the summer spirit.

Everything you need ahead of the 2019 MLB season — including delicious 'totchos'

Can Mookie Betts replicate his MVP-winning production from 2018? (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Here's what you need to know right now from the world of sports:

Opening Day is less than two weeks away — sort of

The 2019 MLB season kicks off in Tokyo with a pair of games on March 20 and 21. But don't worry if you're not in the mood for two 5:35 a.m. ET games: all 30 teams will be in action on March 28 during standard sporting hours. And while it may still be chilly (read: bitterly cold) wherever you're reading this, hopefully these early predictions will get you in the summer spirit.

Baseball's biggest rivalry is thriving.

The sports world's seemingly disproportionate focus on the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees is actually justified this season. The two AL East juggernauts renewed acquaintances in the 2018 post-season, with the Red Sox beating the Yankees en route to the franchise's ninth World Series.

Both teams boast potent offences — led by MVP Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez in Boston and Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the Bronx — and will certainly put on a show when they travel to London at the end of June. While the Red Sox pitching staff returns largely intact (with one notable exception), the Yankees bolstered their rotation with British Columbia's James Paxton, who threw a no-hitter on Canadian turf last year.

But it was another frustrating off-season for free agents.

Previous editions of The Buzzer delved into this in great detail, and even though two of baseballs marquee free agents have since signed record deals — Manny Machado for 10 years, $300 million US with the San Diego Padres and Bryce Harper for 13 years, $330 million with the Philadelphia Phillies — those issues will continue to linger. Many talented players still remain unsigned, including former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, closer Craig Kimbrel (that notable exception) and outfielders Adam Jones and Carlos Gonzalez.

You'd be smiling too if you signed a 13-year, $330 million US deal like Bryce Harper did. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

Fortunately, there's more to baseball than contract drama and that rivalry.

Particularly in the National League, where practically every team not named the Miami Marlins looks primed to contend for a pennant. All-Star shortstop Corey Seager is expected to come back from injury for the Los Angeles Dodgers as the team looks to return to its third-straight World Series. But the Colorado Rockies and Machado's presence on a young Padres squad could upset the status quo in the NL West, while the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers should battle for Central supremacy.

And don't forget about the Houston Astros.

Even with Keuchel in limbo, the Astros remain a formidable force in the American League with an intimidating rotation and a star-studded infield featuring Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman. Perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout could single-handedly turn the Los Angeles Angels' fortunes around, while Cleveland has maintained its core from a squad that nearly ended its own lengthy World Series curse in 2018.

Odds and ends

Ballpark food remains as divisive as the designated hitter.

As teams look to expand their game-day menus beyond hot dogs and mini-helmets filled with soft serve, carnivalesque concoctions are quickly becoming the norm. An early must-try? Houston's smoked pork burnt end totchos  — tater-tot nachos, in case your gastroenterologist asks.

Physical activity while wearing button-down shirts and belts is strange enough.

But at least major-league teams know how to have fun with alternates and throwbacks. And while the St. Louis Cardinals' decision to bring back the baby blue is laudable, the Cincinnati Reds win the prize for quality and quantity. As part of the team's 150th anniversary, the Reds will wear 15 different throwback uniforms throughout the season. Those, along with the five uniforms the team wore last season, could make for a busy year at Ohio laundromats.

There's still some time left in spring training to get ready for the season.

So whether you're counting down until Harper and the revitalized Phillies duke it out in the suddenly stacked NL East or you're a Toronto Blue Jays fan just hoping for the best — or at least Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — during a rebuild, 2019 is poised to be an intriguing year for baseball.

Just don't bring up pace of play… to paraphrase Crash Davis, we're dealing with a lot of, ahem, stuff.

Remember Kendall Coyne Schofield?

The U.S. Olympic hockey gold medallist rose to fame at the NHL's All-Star weekend.

Coyne Schofield, along with teammate Brianna Decker and Canada's Rebecca Johnston and Renata Fast, put on a show in the league's skills competition; she was also recently hired as a studio analyst by the NHL Network. This week, Coyne Schofield is one of the guests on the Hockey Night in Canada podcast to discuss how much her life has changed since that weekend.

This week's episode focuses on the growth of women's hockey throughout the years, and where it's headed in the future. 1:13

Quick reminder...

CBC Sports is hosting a live panel tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. ET to mark International Women's Day. The panel will discuss issues facing women in sports and you can join the conversation by reaching out to @CBCSports on Twitter using the hashtag #WomenInSportsCBC.

Andi Petrillo, host of Road to the Olympic Games, will host Friday's event and the panel will be comprised of the following Canadians:

  • Tricia Smith, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee
  • Kirsty Duncan, Federal Minister of science and sport
  • Rosie MacLennan, two-time Olympic champion in trampoline
  • Chantal Vallée, head coach and GM of the Hamilton Honey Badgers
  • Tamara Tatham, mentor coach of Raptors 905
  • Brenda Andress, founder and president of SheIS, former CWHL Commissioner
"For Her" celebrates, honours and pays tribute to Canadian women, and their participation and accomplishments in sports. It begins with a reflective, heartfelt collection of words spoken by various influential female athletes, who outline the ups and downs, the joys and hardships, the struggles, obstacles and euphoria that organized sports and physical activity can bring. Then "My Song" by Alessia Cara brings it home in a powerful "through-the-generations" musical montage to pay homage. This is a love letter. An offering. An expression of gratitude. For everything. This is "For Her"... 7:19


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About the Author

Benjamin Blum

Benjamin Blum is a senior writer with CBC Sports as well as an online writer and social media AP with CBC News. He holds a master's of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax.

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