At long last, spring (training) is here!

Most intriguing MLB spring stories

1 Video Games: Expanded replay is coming to a spring training park near you. Just not to every park, you understand. Only to parks where the game is on TV back home. Does this mean some managers will get a better feel for playing the Challenge Game than others this spring? We're about to find out.

2 Collision Course: At some point this spring, MLB expects to figure out the final details of its new rules on collisions at home plate. But the ripple effect is that everybody will have to be retrained to think and act differently when a runner is roaring toward home plate -- catchers, runners and umpires. Why do we think that, as that unfolds this spring, it won't be a smooth, serene sail on the spring seas?

3 Sign Of The Times: One of these days, weeks or months, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz and the shocking number of still-unsigned free agents have to show up in somebody's spring training camp. Right? And no, we're not talking about the camp at Rancho Bernardo High School.

4 Alex Rodriguez: Sorry. Just typed that from force of habit. Correctly, pick the date, time and place where Alex Rodriguez will be photographed first this spring, and you'll win a date with Cameron Diaz. Or not.

Most improved American League teams

     1. Yankees
     2. Rangers
     3. Mariners

Yankees

Even after laying out half a billion dollars to collect or retain nine free agents, blowing through the luxury-tax threshold they were once so fixated on, surviving their legal strife with their former third baseman (guess who?) and setting a new standard for most money paid to a man (Tanaka) who had never set foot on a major league field, the Yankees remain a team with many questions. But if you don't think they're much improved, you need to seek help for your deep-seated, Yankee-hater issues immediately. Name a team that added four players as important and impactful as Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Tanaka. Go ahead. We dare you. "They're clearly the most improved team in the league," said one exec. "Of course, they'd better be, for what they spent."

Fun poll fact: Does it tell you anything about how much more hyperactive the AL was this winter than the NL, that 10 of the 15 teams in the American League got a vote? Yeah, 10. And eight of them got multiple votes. (We allow voters to pick up to three teams per category). Ready? Here they come: Yankees (14), Rangers (6), Mariners (4), Astros (3)*, Twins (3)*, A's (2), Royals (2), Tigers (2), Angels (1), White Sox (1).

(* - it's all relative)

Most improved National League teams

     1. Nationals
     2. Padres
     3. Dodgers

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