The story of the year last year in MLB was the Rays. Part of that story was, by necessity, the way the Rays squeezed the Yankees out the AL playoffs -- that was a big part of the lure, actually.
This year, it's like the sequel: "The Empire Strikes Back." The Yankees spent a quarter-billion dollars to land three big-time free agents -- the imperative to win big (and right now) has never been greater.
That is why the Yankees are the biggest storyline in MLB this season, and it only ends one of two ways: Either they make the playoffs (likely squeezing out the Rays) or they don't (armageddon).
(There is always the chance that the Yankees and Rays squeeze out the Red Sox -- I don't think it will happen, but it COULD happen. The point is that a three-way race is ideal, particularly when it features the two biggest spenders in baseball going against the low-budget, out-of-nowhere, smarter newcomer.)
I love the Rays story. I want them to win. I don't think they will -- despite the always-present chance of injury to guys like Sabathia or Burnett (A-Rod counts, too), the Yankees will make the playoffs, squeezing out the Rays for the AL Wild Card.
Yes, the Red Sox will win the AL East. That prediction and the rest throughout the other divisions lead today's SN column.
Meanwhile, you can get on the Villanova bandwagon, suspiciously listen to Doc Rivers about KG and the Celtics' playoff chances, think about McDonald's (All-Americans) and More.
And, yes, a little more on Calipari and Kentucky. But at least it doesn't lead the column today.
Complete column here. More later.