My friends, once again, our long national nightmare is over. The coals on the stove have cooled (not they they ever got terribly hot to begin with), and after the One True Hit King retired last week, it is now time for the regular season to begin in earnest. Stories to watch: - Manny Machado, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout finally wound up signing some of the biggest contracts in baseball history. Will the Padres succeed now that they have a cornerstone player? Will Harper regain his form? Will the Angels ever put a decent team around potentially the greatest player of our generation? - MLB seems to have quietly told teams to avoid being so blatant with their service time fuckery; Fernando Tatis, Jr., Francisco Mejia and Chris Paddack will all begin the season on the major-league roster. And yet Eloy Jimenez sits in AAA for two weeks to, uh ... work on tying his cleats? - Is Joe Maddon toast in Chicago if he doesn't generate a substantial improvement? The Cubs had a pretty nasty meltdown in September, and it was reported in The Athletic that the Cubs' front office has imposed certain rules upon him, such as having players take mandatory BP 4 - 5 times a week (previously, it was "if you don't want to do it, that's fine), releasing lineups to the players on a series-by-series basis (in exit interviews last year, players complained that they never knew what the fuck was going on), and calling the team out on "trap" games (e.g., an afternoon home game after a night game away)--apparently Maddon's attitude towards them was to shrug and say, "Well, we're expected to lose those." - How many dingers is Vlad Jr. going to hit when he gets called up? - SIGN KIMBREL AND KEUCHEL, YOU FUCKS - How many goddamn dingers is #PuigYourFriend going to smash at Great American Ballpark? (The answer: A lot.) - Will the Orioles break the single-season loss record? That's a team devoid of talent. - Greg Bird is the Yankees' opening-day first baseman. Will he have his much-anticipated breakout / rebound year? - Will Boston repeat? - How many more asinine rule changes will Rob Manfred impose until he evolves into his game-destroying final form? PLAY BALL!