Miss Cleo Answers the Bell

When Miss Cleo was taken off the air at the beginning of the millennium, it was imperative someone step forward and take her place. Perhaps some people actually prefer to live in a world free from the spiritual trappings and false promises of the best-known member of the Psychic Friends Network, but I'm certainly not one of them. There's just one problem: I don't see anyone stepping forward to fill her prodigious shoes. So despite the fact I'm dreadfully under-qualified -- I'm not a seer, nor am I Jamaican, although, then again, neither was Miss Cleo -- I've decided to step up to the plate and give it my best shot. Who knows? Maybe the sports spirits of Vince Lombardi, Red Auerbach and Casey Stengel will see fit to grace me with the inside knowledge required to best my fellow prognosticators. If not, I guess it's back to the drawing board with my wildly unsuccessful prediction theories built around the likes of

David Hasselhoff

and

Fez

.

So here is today's special, friends: I'm giving you two for the price of one! We'll start with the just-underway baseball season before moving on to tonight's NCAA basketball final. Just let me gaze into my crystal ball... Ah, yes, the picture is becoming clear, mon. You're going to like this. Unless you're a Kansas City Royals fan. But if that's the case, my apologies. Chances are you're not going to like anything for the next century or so.

A.L. East

1.) Boston Red Sox: Matsuzaka is the real deal, meaning Boston sports a sterling starting rotation to go along with an already loaded offense. I don't particularly care for the Red Sox, but there's no denying this club's potential for greatness.

2.) N.Y. Yankees: I really think the Bronx Bombers could miss the playoffs this year. I hope they do, just so we can witness the carnage surrounding A-Rod's final year as a Yankee. Unfortunately, I think New York will sneak in as a wild card.

3.) Toronto Blue Jays: Definitely a threat to disrupt the A.L. East hierarchy. But I seriously doubt Frank Thomas will duplicate last season's numbers.

4.) Tampa Bay Devil Rays: So much talent. So little hope.

5.) Baltimore Orioles: Yawn.

A.L. Central

1.) Cleveland Indians: Count me among those who thought last year's below .500 record was a fluke that won't be repeated.

2.) Detroit Tigers: Losing Kenny Rogers hurts this team on the field, helps cameramen off it.

3.) Minnesota Twins: Love cheering for the underdog Twins, but this division is a killer and I just don't think they have enough outside of Santana, Mauer and Morneau.

4.) Chicago White Sox: Get ready for more tremendous sound-bites from Ozzie Guillen.

5.) Kansas City: Can we move these guys to AAA already?

A.L. West

1.) Texas Rangers: I know I'm crazy. But I also know good things happen to teams that fire Buck Showalter.

2.) Oakland A's: Billy Beane is a baseball genius. Never count out the A's.

3.) L.A. Angels: Love Vlad Guererro and the young talent. Not crazy about the starting pitching, though.

4.) Seattle: The Safeco fans deserve more from their team.

N.L. East

1.) Philadelphia Phillies: Hey, I'm just repeating what the spirits are telling me. And, oh yeah, this team has what it takes to finish atop this division.

2.) N.Y. Mets: Not enough starting pitching behind the ageless Tom Glavine.

3.) Florida Marlins: The tough thing about a team this young: You never know what to expect.

4.) Atlanta Braves: Still hard to get used to not making the Braves the de facto division champs.

5.) Washington Nationals: Call them the anti-Marlins. Because everyone knows what to expect with this group.

N.L. Central

1.) Houston Astros: I know, I know. I'm insane. But I genuinely believe in Lance Berkman and Roy Osawalt. I seriously think Brad Lidge will be better and Morgan Ensberg will be MUCH better. And I absolutely, positively know that this divison blows. So there's that.

2.) St. Louis Cardinals: Last year's champs had to be one of the worst teams to ever win a title. And I'm not saying that as someone who hates the Cards. I don't hate them at all. I don't even dislike them. Albert Pujols is one of my favorite players -- gotta love anyone who's helped me win a fantasy title. But I just don't see lightning striking twice with this group.

3.) Milwaukee Brewers: Best starting pitching in the division. But Ben Sheets is always a health risk and come on, they're the Brewers.

4.) Chicago Cubs: No, I do not believe the hype. Not even for a second.

5.) Cincinnati Reds: A vibrant color like red could not be more inappropriate for a team so bland.

6.) Pittsburgh Pirates: I love pirates. LOVE them. But not these pirates.

N.L. West

1.) San Diego Padres: The best of a fairly weak division.

2.) Los Angeles Dodgers: Seems like everyone loves these guys to win the pennant this year. I don't see it.

3.) Arizona Diamondbacks: Give 'em another year.

4.) San Francisco Giants: Wake me when the Barry Bonds' garbage is over. Seriously. I couldn't care less.

5.) Colorado Rockies: Has any team ever been so cursed by its home locale?

A.L. Playoffs

Red Sox over Rangers. Indians over Yankees.

A.L. Champs: Red Sox

N.L. Playoffs

Phillies over Padres. Astros over Mets.

N.L. Champs: Phillies

World Series: Red Sox over Phillies in 5.

Now before I get to tonight's big game, I have to get something off my chest: I'm an idiot. Really, I am. In late December, I told anyone who'd listen that not only was Ohio State going to beat Florida for the BCS title, but the Buckeyes were also going to knock off the Gators in the NCAA's as well. Well, we all know how the Fiesta Bowl turned out. Then, when it came time to turn in my bracket, I ditched Florida and Ohio State, instead backing the perennial choke artists from Kansas.

So, normally, I'd tell you to disregard anything I have to say about tonight's tilt. But keep in mind, I've got the power of the supernatural on my side now. And that's why I've finally seen the light. Florida is a team of destiny and an unstoppable force. The Buckeyes are nothing but gator-bait. So I'm sending out a big "FU" (for Florida University, of course) to all who dare deny the heir to Miss Cleo's throne.

Florida 83 — Ohio St. 71

-- Jason Friedman

Click here for John Royal's MLB predictions.

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