BY MICHAEL SMITH
As the F-M area gets dumped on once again by Mother Nature, warmer weather is just around the corner.
The Major League Baseball season opens a week from Thursday and that is the first sign that spring is on the way.
Teams have high hopes with the start of new seasons; it is a chance to start anew and improve on stats gathered last year.
In recent years, the American League Central Division has been more competitive than other divisions, with the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox leading the way.
In 2008, the Sox took the division with a one-game playoff with the Twins as both teams finished the regular season with an 88-74 record.
The Twins have won the division the last two seasons, but nothing has been easy.
The following season the Twins came out on top in another one-game playoff with the Detroit Tigers for the division crown in 2009.
Each and every divisional battle during the season takes its toll as the AL Central winner has been bounced from the playoff in the first-round of the last three seasons.
No team from the AL Central has been to or won the World Series since the White Sox swept the Houston Astros in the 2005 championship.
Prior to that, the Cleveland Indians made it to the series in 1995, losing to the Atlanta Braves. Following that trend, perhaps in 2015 an AL Central team will once again have a chance to make it to the World Series.
The Twins made a big splash in their effort to capture a championship this season. The team went all the way to Japan and brought back Tsuyoski Nishioka to play the shortstop position. He has a batting average of
.324 in twelve preseason games as he continues to find his way not only on a new team but also in a new country.
The Sox stayed closer to home as they brought in slugger Adam Dunn from the Washington Nationals.
Dunn had 38 home runs for the Nationals last season along with 103 RBIs.
Even with the fluctuation in team roster, the two top teams in the division have just gotten better and will slug it out all season long.
To read more from this writer, view his blog at smithmi.blogspot.com