After last year's exciting home-run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and the New York Yankees' record-breaking season of 114 victories, how will the 1999 season stack up? It's difficult to say, but the '99 season has storybook potential too: Several players have a chance to reach the 3,000 mark in career hits, big-name players are with new teams, and maybe Big Mac and Slammin' Sammy will rise to the occasion and top 70 and 66 homers, respectively. For baseball believers, anything's possible.
Q: Which longtime stars have a shot at making history this year?
A: Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, and Cal Ripken are close to 3,000 career hits. Gwynn needs 72, Boggs 76, and Ripken 122. Players who've reached this goal include Paul Molitor (3,181), Dave Winfield (3,110), and Eddie Murray (3,255).
Q: How many teams will be getting new stadiums soon?
A: Five. The Seattle Mariners move into a new stadium July 15. The brick-and-steel ballpark has a retractable roof. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers, San Francisco Giants, and Houston Astros will play in new parks beginning in 2000. Detroit's stadium is one of the oldest. It opened in 1912.
Q: Who are some of the well-known players who have switched teams?
A: Outfielder Albert Belle, formerly of the Chicago White Sox, now plays for the Baltimore Orioles; first baseman Mo Vaughn, former slugger of the Boston Red Sox, is a key addition to the Anaheim Angels; and pitcher Roger Clemens moved from the Toronto Blue Jays to the New York Yankees.
Q: Who is baseball's first $100 million man?
A: Kevin Brown. The Los Angeles Dodgers spared no expense in signing a seven-year deal with him.
Q: How much have tickets increased?
A: By 9.7 percent this year, up from an average of $13.59 to $14.91. The Red Sox, who play in the smallest stadium in the major leagues, charge the most, averaging $24.05. Despite the increases, baseball tickets remain the cheapest seats in professional sports.
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