We’re a week into the marathon of baseball; that’s a 162-game stretch where we’ll all be seeing 30 teams in and out of our market for essentially every single night until November. The omnipresence is a delicacy that we must cherish.

What’s also amazing about this romantic constant is that there is a unique personality to every single team; whether they decide to invest and field a winning roster is beside the point, but there’s at least one reason to watch every single team in the majors. Baseball is still behind some of the other leagues in terms of marketing those personalities nationally, so to better prepare for the stretch where you’re watching each team throughout the year, here’s one NON-baseball/baseball adjacent reason to better follow each team and get invested throughout this stretch.

Los Angeles Dodgers- The Japanese Fandom

There are plenty of different reasons to watch a marquee franchise in all of sports worldwide that just had an offseason in which they spent $1 billion and have four MVPs in the city of stars. However, we’re going to go with the Dodgers essentially becoming THE team of Japan after signing the marquee Japanese free agents, Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, from a baseball-crazed community. The iconic LA cap has already been the tourist go-to souvenir purchase that brings in casual fans all across the world, but the Dodgers are now going to be a fan favorite for one of the largest markets in the world; their relations could also be a recruiting hotbed landing spot for international free agents as Yamamoto was drawn to the Ohtani signing (Roki Sasaki is already in talks to be a 2025 Dodger!). LA will arguably have another entire nation on its side in the postseason for years to come, raising generations of fans.

San Francisco Giants- Jung Hoo Lee as the sweetheart

Speaking of Japan, the Dodgers’ division rival Giants landed a Korean slugger from the Japanese league, Jung Hoo Lee, when he inked a deal, and his transition to America is already one of the most adorable star-ready blossomings we’ve seen; his opening press conference he prepared in English and asked the media room if he was handsome after putting on his jersey. We need Lee, nicknamed “grandson of the wind” after his father was “son of the wind” for his speed, to be our darling.

San Diego Padres- Fernando Tatis Jr.’s Image Rehabilitation Tour

After the man reached superstar status by gracing the cover of the show, bat-flipping grand slams, becoming the face of baseball in 2020, and hitting 42 homers in 2021, the Padres shortstop has had a whirlwind of motorcycle accidents, season-ending injuries, and a PED suspension that made the collective baseball community question his maturity. While the youth still adore Tatis, Fernando has a lot to prove this year that he’s a serious ballplayer after the Padres’ “year from Hell” last season.

Diamondbacks- Joc Pederson and Eugenio Suarez’s Good Vibes in the Desert

While the D-backs are coming off a very successful season that surprised us all with a Cinderella run to the World Series, they had one of the best offseasons in the league where they still spent money to go and get it. It starts with adding two of the best “vibes” guys in the locker room as they look to continue their winning ways. Joc Pederson was on the Braves for only a couple of months and was a cult fan favorite icon for life; in which he walked up to “Dancing Queen” and made everyone dye their hair blonde and wear pearl necklaces. Eugenio Suarez not only added pop to the lineup, but literally had the mantra “good vibes only” posted in his locker and was a major part of the Mariners having fun playing baseball. Give us all of this in southwestern teal!

Colorado Rockies- The Rockin’ Beer Garden for Charlie Blackmon

The Rockies are not focused on winning baseball games. Still, Coors Field is a baseball sanctuary that in unison belts out “TONIIIIIIIGHT” in The Outfield’s “Your Love” louder than any crowd at any setting for Charlie Blackmon’s walk-up.

St. Louis Cardinals- Adam Wainwright’s Tour

The Cardinals will be trying to rebound from a surprisingly awful finish. However, their former ace Adam Wainwright is still going to be very relevant in proximity just by releasing a country music album in his first season in retirement and suddenly playing shows at Busch Stadium.

Chicago Cubs/Milwaukee Brewers- Craig Counsell Rivalry

Cubs-Brewers was already a blood feud with only an hour separating two division rivals apart, but now the Brewers are playing with an immense chip on their shoulder after Craig Counsell, the manager whom the entire organization was largely based around for 8 seasons by “winning with less,” left them for the Cubs to become the highest-paid manager in history. The theatrics in those games are going to be something to behold.

Cincinnati Reds/Pittsburgh Pirates- The “Cruz’s”

Both the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates have a 25-year-and-under infielder the size of an NBA player with a last name of an iteration of Cruz that does something physical specimens should not be able to do every night. Elly De La Cruz is 6’5, can hit the ball over 500 feet, leg-out doubles to triples with the sprint speed of the Predator, and hit the cycle last year. O’Neil Cruz is 6’7, set the record for hardest-hit ball ever recorded, the fastest-thrown infield ball ever, and turns popouts into home runs. They’re not humans.

Atlanta Braves/ Philadelphia Phillies- The “Atta Boy Harper” Feud

The best current rivalry in baseball features two World Series contenders in the same division that

Photo: Sportingnews.com via Getty Images

hate each other’s guts. Last season, the Braves had a dominant regular season after losing to the Phillies in the NLDS the year prior. They faced off again; it was revealed that Orlando Arcia of the Braves taunted Bryce Harper with “Atta boy, Harper!” in the locker room after their game 2 win, only for Harper to come back and hit homers and staredown the entire Braves infield in a route where the Phillies defeated them once again. That carry-over of the animosity is Gladiator-level stuff that we hope to see continue.

Miami Marlins- The raucous instruments allowed at the stadium now

The Marlins are an often indifferent fan base with ownership that has been known to cut corners and leave the baseball-crazed Latin community underserved, but this year, they’re allowing instruments such as drums, trumpets, and flags to build a home-field advantage of sorts in South Beach!

Washington Nationals- The swan song of the Cherry Blossoms

Aside from continuing to develop their prospects this year, the Nationals revealed that this will be the final season of their gorgeous Japanese Cherry Blossom City Connect uniforms that make their new ones look like practice jerseys; enjoy this final season, DC.

New York Mets- The Queens Crew

The Mets are usually one of the best early-season performing teams of recent memory, but they’re going to want to forget the on-field performances after the first week. However, off the field, just as we saw the Buss family revolutionize entertainment in the NBA with the HBO series Winning Time to make going to the games an event, Steve Cohen and his ungodly amount of money has introduced the “Queens Crew” as an in-game hip-hop crew; who knows if it spreads to other ballpark gimmicks, but Cohen is already trying to bring life to Queens (at least away from the field.)

Texas Rangers/Houston Astros- The Most-Heated in-state Rivalry in Baseball

There are no notes. We got to see the Astros and Rangers bring the in-state animosity and the grandest stage last season in the ALCS that involved bat-flips, bean-ball, ejections, and managers getting thrown out of games starting off with Alex Bregman’s “I guess we’ll never know” quote at the end of the year. Now, we get to see the “Come and Take It Bowl,” the Battle for the Silver Boot, the Lone Star Series, whatever you may call it in-division year after year in the AL West, and it’s long overdue.

Seattle Mariners- Julio Rodriguez’s charm

Julio Rodriguez is 23 years old and almost certainly a future MVP. He’s signed a 12-year deal to build with Seattle, and while he may also be a 5-tool player on the field, he’s a superstar that simply gets it as cliche as that is to say; he claimed to be in a “sophomore slump” last season despite collecting the most hits over a 4-game span to will the Mariners back into postseason contention. He’s got the smile, he hosted the home run derby with grace, he’s dating a soccer phenom, Jordyn Huitema, as they go to a plethora of PNW events together, and he seems to just say all the right things as a competitor. The kids are going to look up to Julio for a long time.

Oakland A’s- Attendance Gate 2.0

After a season of protests from the Oakland fans who have every right to feel as much vitriol and fire in their veins as they see fit towards the incompetent, greedy billionaires uprooting their franchise to Las Vegas if everything goes according to plan, this is a team that did everything from a “reverse boycott” to wearing a bright kelly green “Sell the team” shirt all over the country. It’ll be interesting to see how they follow it up in their final year in Oakland, as they’ve already had a game in which everyone watched from the parking lot rather than give the team their money.

Los Angeles Angels- Ron Washington on the bench

We may all loathe the Angels for failing to make the postseason even once before Shohei Ohtani inevitably left Mike Trout and the franchise across town to the Dodgers. Still, they did do right by Mike Trout in hiring one of the most likable people in all of baseball: 71-year-old Ron Washington. From the energy he brought jumping out of his seat leading the Rangers to World Series appearances in 2010-2011, to being the lively veteran third base coach the Braves hated to see depart, he may bring fun to a team that’s otherwise been miserable. That being said, he did already have a “team meeting” within their first two losses in Baltimore. Culture change is important, but how often do good teams have mandatory team meetings when there’s 160 left to play?

New York Yankees- The Juan Soto Party

For a team that is the marquee franchise of baseball with 27 rings, it feels as if there’s been so much dysfunction swirling around the Yankees organization for the better part of the last decade, be it unlucky injuries, failure to make the big offseason signings, postseason shortcomings, or questionable strategies from Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman that have had the Bronx faithful calling for their jobs. However, they finally made the “all-in” move to trade for the most competent, disciplined superstar in the league by trading for Juan Soto last offseason. There was some trepidation in that he still will be a Boras free agent that will demand an otherworldly extension, for Juan Soto to come out and draw walks, throw out runners in the outfield, and hit bombs in an opening season sweep against the big bad wolf Astros the opening weekend and look like he’s having a blast doing it, there’s a different kind of bliss surrounding the Yankees Evil Empire that feels like they’re the juggernaut again; after Soto was in a moribund situation post-World Series in Washington and then suffering one year in San Diego, Soto’s superstardom and who he really is, playing on the biggest stage in east coast games, is going to give him the recognition he deserves.

Toronto Blue Jays- The Post-Ohtani Saga Fans

This offseason featured Toronto media tracking flights and believing that Shohei Ohtani was a Blue Jay, with media members flocking to the Toronto airport to see his opening press conference after he landed, only for him to post a generic Instagram photo of the Dodger logo after their hopes were through the roof. The first game that Ohtani plays in Toronto after a breakup where they felt like there was a chance is going to be great theater to see what the Jays can do in the “what now?” mindset, missing out on once-in-a-lifetime talent.

Boston Red Sox- The Netflix Series personalities

The Boston Red Sox declared they were going “full throttle” this offseason. That resulted in merely signing Lucas Giolito and for him to be injured this spring before the regular season started after they finished in 5th in the AL East last year. However, Netflix did announce that they’ll be the team of their iteration of “Hard Knocks.” It will be nice to see some of the young personalities on a team in transition playing for one of the sports-crazed cities. Our money is on Masataka Yoshida, who is the darling of the series.

Baltimore Orioles- The Camden Yards atmosphere

The Orioles went from tanking year after year to now being must-watch TV with a new ownership group, superstar prospects, and the most-loaded young core in the American League that won the East last year. Camden Yards is a sanctuary that features Mr. Splash dousing fans in Hawaiian shirts in the outfield, the young players behave like a college team celebrating with water bongs and supersoakers, and Gunnar Henderson and Colton Cowser are just building LEGO Star Wars sets in celebrating their wins and building the fun in the game. The Orioles are a blast on and off the field as America’s Team.

Tampa Bay Rays- Randy Arozarena… and biceps

The Rays have consistently been a team that identifies brilliant talent, use that talent for up to four years, and dealing the player away before having to pay him. For a team that has struggled with identifying “their guy” and creating personalities, there are few players as electrifying as Randy Arozarena, the bat-flipping, boot-wearing, ripped flexer that knows how to entertain; this is a man who couldn’t play for weeks because of COVID so he did nothing but do push-ups and eat boiled chicken in quarantine. From his muscles to Yandy Diaz and Shane Baz’s dad in the stands’ biceps, Tampa is the land of the swole.

Kansas City Royals- Vinnie Pasquantino

There are very few athletes who are actually funny and are merely athletes who can make you laugh now and then in an often personality-less media environment, but Kansas City first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino, AKA the Pasquatch, is legitimately funny and a must-follow on social media, press conferences, and wherever you can listen to him as a grounded and self-deprecating fellow you simply want to hang out with.

Cleveland Guardians- Jose Ramirez

Jose Ramirez is a top-15 player in baseball that has a chain of himself wearing a chain of himself and is a 5’9 switch-hitter that plays with the electricity of a bowling ball and also clocked Tim Anderson in the face last season in a scuffle—enough said.

Minnesota Twins- Pablo Lopez

Not only is he now the Twins’ ace and who many consider to be a Dark Horse AL Cy Young  Candidate, but Pablo Lopez is considered to be the most universally-beloved good guys of the league that you have to root for and listen to every quote possible. He is eloquent in his second language, is always quick to only give credit to his teammates, and is an absolute veteran leader. That is what baseball is all about, rather than aces that fire themselves up by barking.

Chicago White Sox- The Concessions

The Chicago White Sox will not be focused on winning baseball games this year. However, summertime in Chicago is still a reason to go to the ballpark as Guaranteed Rate Field is still known for its delicious craft, relatively cheaper prices, and absurd proportions to keep up with on socials; most notable this year is the 16-ounce Campfire S’Mores Milkshake that looks like it will raise your sugar-levels higher than the ERA of this White Sox pitching staff (too soon?)

Detroit Tigers- Jason Bennetti

It only gets worse for the White Sox in that now that the Detroit Tigers have passed them as the budding young AL Central team with a bright future, the Tigers also took the legendary play-by-play announcer, Jason Benetti, away from them. Bennetti is baseball Morgan Freeman.

Photo: Karl Mondon / Bay Area News Group

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