Big things are expected in the local sports scene in 2012, as the Orange County area awaits the arrival of a man – former St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols – considered by some to be the best player in major league baseball.
Pujols will join an Angel team with first-rate pitching and a lineup, which, if it stays healthy, that should provide plenty of pop. The Halos’ off-season deals have made them a favorite to make the playoffs this season, something they haven’t accomplished since 2009.
The Anaheim Ducks could use a big shot in the arm as they stagger through one of their worst seasons ever.
Unless they pull off one of the biggest comebacks ever, they likely will finish out of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and wave goodbye to new coach Bruce Boudreau, whose record is worse than the coach he replaced, Randy Carlye.
Also saying goodbye will likely be Teemu Selanne, a long-time Ducks star who is headed for retirement.
On the flip side, there might be some newcomers to the Honda Center. The Sacramento Kings came within an eyelash of moving south and becoming the Anaheim Royals, but got cold feet at the last second.
What the Kings fans got was a stay of execution, but the City of Sacramento has until March 1 to come up with a new arena to satisfy booth the team owners and the NBA. So far, the progress (at least publically) has been slow.
So, will the Royals come to Anaheim for the 2012-13 season and be roommates with the Ducks? Could be. After all the Kings have started out 1-3 and new star DeMarcus Cousins got into a shouting match with coach Paul Westphal.
Maybe Anaheim should only agree to take the Kings-Royals if they leave Cousins and Westphal behind in the state capital, where bull-headedness is more accepted.
On the local high school scene, there’s no clear top team in boys basketball, but the Garden Grove League looks loaded with talent, stocked with four teams with seven wins or better. Pacifica should contend in girls’ hoops in the Empire League.
In the spring, it’s a wide-open baseball race again in the Garden Grove League, which used to be dominated by La Quinta.
Now that the spell is broken, Rancho Alamitos looks like the slight favorite in ’12.
Probably the surest bet in prep sports this spring will be the Pacifica softball team, anchored as it is by ace pitcher Kaylee Carlson, who was a star last year as a freshmen (0.75 ERA) and who is likely to get even better in 2012.
For the fall, the Garden Grove and Empire leagues appear to be free-for-alls in 2012, but if you look ahead to 2013 or so you may find it interesting to note than the 2011 Garden Grove High freshman football team went 10-0. The last time that happened, the boys made it to the CIF finals as juniors and seniors.