What's new for 2000 season?

The key questions to be answered in Major League Baseball this season:

Can the Yankees win the World Series for the third year in a row?

If they can, they will be the first to do it since the Oakland A's in 1972-74. The bevy of Yankee stars seems to be aligned for another year of brilliance.

Will Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa battle again for the home-run title, and maybe the single-season record?

If they do, it will be the third straight year they will charm the public. St. Louis, McGwire's team, looks much improved and poised to make a solid run at the playoffs.

Will John Rocker's pitching ability override his runaway mouth?

Rocker is very good and proved it with the Braves last year with 38 saves and a 14-inning stretch of scoreless innings. But his off-season ethnic broadside is a huge problem - for any team that employs him.

Can Ken Griffey Jr. lead Cincinnati to the World Series?

The Reds were solid last year, ending with 96 wins and leading the NL Central in homers and runs scored - all this without Junior. Last year in Seattle, Griffey hit 48 home runs and drove in 134 runs. Add these numbers to the mix, and things could turn special in Cincinnati.

What's wrong with the Los Angeles Dodgers?

ESPN expert Peter Gammons says L.A. is competing with the Yankees to have the highest payroll. Trouble is the dollars don't translate into performance. Last year, the Dodgers were 77-85, 23 games out of first in their division. Baseball needs much more from one of its most visible teams.

Is the competitive balance completely out of whack?

Small-market teams, like Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Montreal, struggle mightily. The Expos averaged 6,254 fans for a three-game series at home against Colorado last year. Too few fans and way too little money generate frowns. On the other hand, small-market St. Louis thinks tall. So, it's possible.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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