Same face, new place: Major League Baseball is back

Spit and chew hit freshly cut grass. Sounds of vendors yelling, “Popcorn Cracker Jacks” fill the air. Get your peanuts. Baseball is back.

The Major League Baseball 2013 season opened with a number of new acquisitions and division adjustments.

Interleague, established in 1997, will now take place year-round following the Houston Astros’ new transition to the American League.

“I like the concept,” said sophomore Brandon Wagstaff, a Los Angeles Dodgers fan. “I love to watch games between teams of the National League and American League.”

The offseason produced several trades that will have people asking, “He plays there now?”

The Toronto Blue Jays, for example, were particularly busy — their roster is barely recognizable from last season.

The Marlins — now sporting a new logo and belonging strictly to the city of Miami — completed a salary-dump trade to the Blue Jays in which they traded their highest-paid players in exchange for players of lesser value.

Miami’s team committed nearly $164 million to the five players dealt to Toronto. Marlins starting pitcher Josh Johnson was traded, along with superstar shortstop Jose Reyes, who has a guaranteed contract of $96 million through 2018 with the Miami team.

Even 2012 Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey was let go and picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays.

“The Blue Jays improved the most on paper,” said first-year Harrison Houlihan, a Washington Nationals fan. “Then again, they are basically the Marlins transplanted into Toronto, and you saw how that worked out in Miami last year.”

The Los Angeles Angels agreed to contract terms with right fielder Josh Hamilton for a salary of $147 million over six years. This blockbuster deal promises to add more home run support to their stacked lineup.

Although the Angels pitching staff has taken a hit, the core group of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Hamilton resembles the 1927 Yankees Murderers’ Row.

“Josh Hamilton is my pick for MVP,” said first-year Trenor Colby, a self-proclaimed Boston Red Sox fanatic.

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, usually the highest spenders in free agency, remained relatively quiet during offseason aquisitions.

Staying true to their goal of lowering payroll to $189 million by 2014, the Bronx Bombers of the American League East let notable contributors Russell Martin of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Nick Swisher of the Cleveland Indians and Raul Ibanez of the Seattle Mariners suit up in new uniforms. The Yankees added former Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis in anticipation of his high-skill defensive performance.

On what might be a downfall, the Yankees also launched the season with bruised and battered team leaders Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson sitting on the disabled list.

“Even if everybody is hurt, I’m confident the Yankees will win the division,” said first-year Sherrod Johnson. “Not many people predicted that the Yankees would win the division last year either.”

Boston selected to offer short contracts to experienced players.

The Sox signed veterans Shane Victorino for $39 million over three years, Ryan Dempster for $26.5 million over two years and Mike Napoli at $5 million over one year’s time.

The Tampa Bay Rays traded ace James Shields to the Kansas City Royals for future outfield star Wil Myers. Fresh off of an impressive 93-win season, the Baltimore Orioles will rely on their core of young talent.

“I’m really excited to see how the Orioles do,” said first-year Andrew Griffin, an Orioles fan. “They had an amazing season last year and I really want to see how they do this season.”

The Atlanta Braves signed center-fielder B.J. Upton to a lucrative five-year $75.25 million contract, and traded for B.J.’s brother Justin to play left field.

“Brothers playing together is always pretty cool,” said Griffin.

The Washington Nationals and the Cincinnati Reds acquired lead-off hitters in Denard Span and Shin-Soo Choo.

The Dodgers agreed to terms with Korean Hyun-Jin Ryu to create a unique rotation of play with newly-signed Zack Grienke, Clayton Kershaw, Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley.

The young and talented Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper will lead the Washington Nationals in this year’s season, potentially to consecutive divisional titles.

“Bryce Harper can be the greatest,” said Houlihan. “Now that the reins are off, Stephen Strasburg can win the Cy Young.”

Although trades and free agency were the main themes this offseason, colossal contract extensions stole headlines.

Pitcher Justin Verlander signed a five-year extension with the Detroit Tigers, totaling $180 million with an option that could increase his salary to $202 million at a later date.

2012 National League MVP Buster Posey signed a nine-year $167 million extension with the San Francisco Giants.

The offseason was hectic, so it may take a while to remember who is playing where. Welcome to MLB 2013.