by Tom Brown, Sports Editor

It’s that time of the year again. The smell of hotdogs fills the air, the calls from the beer man tempt thousands of fans, and “Take me out to the Ball Game” has relevance again. Yes people, baseball season is upon us, and as the season begins, here are five questions that are on most baseball fans’ minds entering the 2013 season.

1. Can the San Francisco Giants repeat as champions?

Last season’s title run proved that the Giants are no fluke and are a force to be reckoned with around baseball. With almost their entire roster returning this year, they finally are playing a season where they are expected to be an elite team.  The question is, can they play under the pressures and expectations that they have not had before?

2. Will the Dodgers’ spending pay off?

The Los Angeles Dodgers made headlines late last season when they announced they had made a deal with a new ownership group. They then made news in the off-season with the amount of money they spent in free agency.  Will signings such as Carl Crawford and Zach Greinke work or will it be a long season of regret in L.A.?

3. How good are the Washington Nationals?

Last season, the Nationals led the league in wins before bowing out in the first round of the playoffs; this season they return all their core players and have added closer Rafael Sorino and outfielder Dernard Spann to a team that was already stacked. Speaking of stacked, this rotation has the potential to be the best in baseball and this season ace Stephen Strasburg will not be on an innings count. It seems like the sky’s the limit for this team.

4. Can the Yankees overcome their early injury problems?

The New York Yankees are facing problems before the season starts that most teams don’t face until the middle of the season: the injury bug.  Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixiera, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez all will begin the season on the disabled list. This leaves the Yankee lineup without their four most productive hitters. Can the Yankees stay afloat until all their stars return or will the stars go dim on the Yanks?

5. Who is the favorite in the AL East?

Speaking of the Yankees, their division, the American League East, is one of the most intriguing in all of baseball. The Blue Jays post a new look club with proven veteran talent, the Orioles are fresh off a playoff appearance and have a good looking lineup on paper again. Then there are the Rays who always seem to fly under the radar for most of the season and end up in the race for the playoffs by season’s end. Add to that, the aforementioned Yankees and the Red Sox who should play with a fire this season after their disastrous 2012 campaign.   With all that being said, this should be the most unique division to watch.

And there you have it folks! The five burning questions heading into the 2013 campaign, and just think about this: We didn’t even address Josh Hamilton and how he will perform with his new team, Trout and Harper and if they will continue their stellar starts to their careers, and how year 2 of the Cubs rebuilding process will go.  So with that being said, it should be a fun filled and very eventful 2013 season. Play Ball!!!