Since making its debut in 2001, “Hard Knocks” has featured behind-the-scenes footage of NFL teams, giving fans a sneak peek of how a football team conducts its business outside of just the three hours when it plays on Sunday.
While the series has only focused on the NFL in the past, it appears that MLB will now get its own “Hard Knocks” treatment, with an announcement coming on Wednesday that the Boston Red Sox would be under the microscope of numerous television cameras in 2024.
While there is certainly intrigue surrounding the Red Sox as they attempt to get out of the American League East cellar this season, there are also arguably other teams who might have made for a more compelling watch in the series.
Which teams, you ask? Here are five who could be stars in their own rights in a “Hard Knocks” format.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Come on, the team that has made history with all of its high-profile signings has been in the news all winter. Now the question becomes whether a star-studded lineup that added Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow and others can actually bring home a World Series title.
But the Dodgers’ quest for a championship is going to be a fascinating storyline all season, not just in October. What if Los Angeles starts the season slow? How will fans and the team react after seeing the Dodgers exit the postseason without a series win in the past two years?
There are incredible storylines everywhere you look, from the return of Ohtani after surgery and his adjustment to the Dodgers to the American debut of Yamamoto and all of the pressure that seemingly comes with it.
Will Mookie Betts be able to record a season for the ages once again after missing out on the National League MVP award in 2023? After ACL surgery, is Gavin Lux ready to take over at shortstop? What about the returns of Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw from surgeries?
This season, the Dodgers are truly a team built for Hollywood.
San Diego Padres
Don’t forget about the team that would love nothing more to see the Dodgers falter this season, and that’s the Padres. After a season where little went right in San Diego, 2024 will be a fascinating year inside Petco Park.
With new manager Mike Shildt at the helm, will the star-studded Padres roster finally live up to its potential?
Starting the season in Seoul against the Dodgers, San Diego will get an early taste of the Interstate 5 rivalry, as well as what it might take to knock L.A. off the top of the division.
Fernando Tatis Jr.’s charisma and athleticism are must-watch television for MLB fans already, but there are questions surrounding Manny Machado’s return after offseason surgery and Jake Cronenworth’s ability to bounce back from a frustrating season.
Can the Padres find their stride? If not, does this team stay together or will A.J. Preller break it apart? The drama and intrigue in San Diego is palpable.
New York Yankees
Speaking of the Padres, Juan Soto has landed in the Bronx after being dealt from San Diego in a blockbuster deal. How will Soto adjust to the pressure that comes along with the pinstripes?
Can he and Aaron Judge be the pair of mashers to provide the fireworks (and offense) that New York will likely need to make its return to the postseason?
The addition of Marcus Stroman to the rotation will provide some must-see moments as well, particularly knowing his past run-ins with the fans in Queens. Plus, if the Yankees start slowly, all eyes will be on Aaron Boone and his job security.
Anything other than winning in the Bronx won’t go over well with fans hungry to break the World Series drought that has hung over the franchise like a specter since 2009. How will the 2024 version of the Yankees handle that pressure?
A team built to play spoiler? That’s the Phillies, the club that has taken great pride is rising up against the Atlanta Braves in the last two postseasons. This year, with the Dodgers loading up and the Braves seemingly once again in a great position to win the National League East, the Phillies come in as the underdog with plenty of attitude once again.
A completely healthy Bryce Harper could well make a run at the MVP this season, and Aaron Nola’s early re-signing with the team on a seven-year deal will certainly be under the microscope all year in Philadelphia. And let’s not forget the shocking end of the postseason for the Phillies at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks and how pitcher Taijuan Walker publicly voiced his frustrations over his lack of usage in the postseason, never registering a single pitch.
In the middle of a four-year, $72 million deal, how does Walker respond in the spring and early season? Grab the popcorn.
St. Louis Cardinals
After a season where they finished last in the National League Central, the pressure to respond in 2024 is incredibly high under the Gateway Arch. While Boone is on the hot seat in the Bronx, there is little doubt that Oliver Marmol’s seat could even be hotter after 2023’s flop.
The Cardinals invested this offseason in rebuilding its rotation with Kyle Gibson, Sonny Gray and Lance Lynn and early projections are mixed in how well that strategy will pay off for St. Louis. Early struggles could have Cardinals fans feeling like it’s 2023 all over again.
St. Louis has plenty of star power in Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Willson Contreras and others, so the interest from a television crowd would be there as the Cardinals try to prove last year was just a fluke. But was it? It’s a question we’re all interested in finding out.