So, it's time for baseball season. And am I the only one out there who thinks that Opening Day should be a holiday?
That said, it's time for the predictions. Now, I could get all kinds of stats and get lots of links to back up my predictions. But what fun is that? You're just going to have to trust me.
Starting with the American League:
1) Yankees — God, it's difficult to pick the Yankees to win. I hate the Yankees. But on paper, the Yankees have the best infield in baseball. One of the best outfields in baseball. And the best closer. The weak spot is the rotation. Damn Yankees.
2) Blue Jays — Yeah, I know, you think I'm joking. But this team will score lots of run. It's got some good outfielders, and Roy Halladay is one of the best starters in baseball.
3) Red Sox — sorry, Curt, that bloody sock isn't going to help now. This team replaced the aging and injury-prone Trot Nixon with the aging and injury-prone J.D. Drew. This team is so desperate for a closer that it still thinks Brad Lidge is good. But at least there's the Man Ram experience in left field.
4) Devil Rays — Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, and Delmon Young have the potential to be the best outfield in all of baseball. And Scott Kazmir is a stud starter. That's it for this team. Jose Lima could be an ace on this staff.
5) Orioles — the days of Brooks and Frank and Jim and Eddie and Cal are long gone. As are this team's pennant chances.
1) Tigers — a good starting rotation that I think won't feel the effects of overuse from last season. Jim Leyland's one of the best managers in the game. Of course, Gary Sheffield's now on this team, so there's lots of potential for this team to self-destruct.
2) Twins — this team has the best pitcher in baseball. And the best catcher. And the centerfielder. The best closer, and one of the best first basemen. But the rotation is iffy after Santana. Still, this is my wild card pick.
3) White Sox — the Ozzie magic is gone. The pitching staff is burnt out. The White Sox have the offense to keep the race close, but the pitching will see the team to an ultimate failure.
4) Indians — the smart kids see the Indians as winning this division. I'm not one of the smart kids. This team still has the same starting rotation as last season. That rotation wasn't very good.
5) Royals — this team plays in a beautiful stadium. There's nothing else positive to say about this team.
1) Athletics — I don't like the A's. But this team always has good pitching. And teams with good pitching always find ways to win.
2) Angels — the smart kids also like this team. But the rotation's iffy. And there's Gary Matthews, Jr. and the HGH in centerfield with which to deal. My pick here might change if the Angels pull off a deal for Alex Rodriguez.
3) Rangers — this team signed Sammy Sosa to a contract. As if being associated with Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmierio and George W. Bush wasn't enough.
4) Mariners — hey, Ichiro plays on this team.
Now for the National League:
1) Mets — that's very painful to type. I hate the Mets. But this team will score lots of runs.
2) Braves — is this the last time that Joneses and John Smoltz play on the same team? I say that they go out in style and win the wild card.
3) Phillies — this team had the chance to make Jim Leyland its manager. It chose Charlie Manuel instead. This team deserves to be bad.
4) Marlins — the new stadium hostage stand-off continues. The Marlins are going to lose that, and the Marlins are going to lose lots of games.
5) Nationals — this team has the chance to be one of the worst teams in the history of baseball.
1) Brewers — a very good offense, led by Prince Fielder and Bill Hall. An underrated pitching staff. The Brewers surprise and win the division.
2) Cardinals — Tony La Russa may be a drunk, and Jesus Ortiz might think that the fans are morons. But this team will find a way to win, especially with the likes of Chris Carpenter and Albert Pujols.
3) Cubs — Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano. This team can be very good. It can be very bad. I'm thinking that the Cubs will be just so-so.
4) Astros — Roy Oswalt and pray for rain. Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee and hope that Ensberg, Everett and Ausmus don't bat with men on base. Then there's the Chris Burke experience in centerfield, and the Craig Biggio quest for 3,000 hits. And did I mention Brad Lidge?
5) Reds — I predict Ken Griffey, Jr. will be injured at some point. I predict that Adam Dunn will get hurts a lot. I predict this team will not be very good.
6) Pirates — hard to believe that the Pirates went to the playoffs in 1990, 1991 and 1992. A return by Barry Bonds couldn't save this team.
1) Dodgers — a decent starting rotation. A good offense. It may even be able to overcome the annual injury to Nomar. And Vin Scully is still the best broadcaster in baseball.
2) Diamondbacks — the smart kids like this team. And there is some good young talent like Chad Tracy on this team. But the team's depending on Randy Johnson's back to hold together. I don't see that happening.
3) Padres — very good pitching. Greg Maddux is only the number 4 starter in this rotation. But it can't score runs, which is okay in Petco Park, but is very bad when this team goes on the road.
4) Rockies — same song, umpteenth verse. Lots of hitting, little pitching.
5) Giants — there is a good pitching staff here anchored by Barry Zito. But the rest of the team is very, very old. Barry Bonds breaks Henry Aaron's record by the All-Star break. He's under indictment come August.
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AL: Twins upset the Yankees. Tigers beat the A's. Tigers beat the Twins. NL: Brewers beat the Braves. Mets beat up on the Dodgers. Mets demolish the Brewers.
World Series: The Tigers win without any help from Kenny Rogers's pine tar.
-- John Royal