Hello again, National Pastime. Iâ€™ve missed you so.
Today is Opening Day 2006, a day Iâ€™ve been looking forward to with unbridled eagerness since, well, the day the White Sox won the 2005 World Series (Ah yes, thatâ€™s what vomit tastes like again). I plan on devoting many a word to baseball coverage over the course of the â€™06 campaign, and to get things started Iâ€™ll give my guaranteed-to-be-wrong predictions to the season. Iâ€™ma keep it concise, but if you dig long-winded commentary you can check out guest writer Adam Goethkeâ€™s AL and NL/Playoff predictions.
1. New York Yankees â€“ So many things will have to go wrong for the Yankees to miss the postseason. They just have too many options.
2. Boston Red Sox â€“ They have the potential of blowing by the Yanks if they can avoid injuries, but theyâ€™ll need the oft-injured Schilling, Beckett and Foulke to be huge. Dicey.
3. Toronto Blue Jays â€“ Poor guys seem to have a promising squad, but theyâ€™re in the wrong division.
4. Tampa Bay Devil Rays â€“ Love these guys. Young, speedy and talented. Count on a ton of Sportscenter coverage of the Rays this season.
5. Baltimore Orioles â€“ Miguel Tejada is the MLBâ€™s Kevin Garnett. You just want the guy to get traded; he deserves a ring.
1. Chicago White Sox â€“ I hate the lucky bastards, but theyâ€™ll no doubt be formidable. Thome had a good spring and, while Javy Vasquez isnâ€™t dominating or anything, heâ€™s still the best #5 starter in the game.
2. Minnesota Twins â€“ So many question marks. Shannon Stewart and Rondell White are always injured; Morneau, Baker, Kubel, Bartlett and Liriano are unproven; Castillo and Radke arenâ€™t getting any younger and Fatista is just plain awful. Theyâ€™ll be competitive, fun to watch, etc, but I just canâ€™t see them taking the title.
3. Cleveland Indians â€“ The Indians will be worse than last year. No more Millwood, no more Crisp.
4. Detroit Tigers â€“ Donâ€™t care. They wonâ€™t be good.
5. Kansas City Royals â€“ Royals fans have virtually nothing to look forward to.
1. Los Angeles Angels â€“ Just a solid team all around. I expect John Lackey to have a career year.
2. Oakland Athletics â€“ Damn near everyoneâ€™s picking these guys to make a run at a World Series ring, but I wouldnâ€™t count on Frank Thomas and Milton Bradley for anything.
3. Texas Rangers â€“ I wouldnâ€™t be surprised to see the Rangers making a run at the division title. Theyâ€™ve got some studs on offense (Young, Texeira, Blalock, Mench) and, finally, a few pitchers as well in Millwood, Padilla and Cordero.
4. Seattle Mariners â€“ Someday my grandchildren will ask me about Felix Hernandez.
1. Atlanta Braves â€“ This division will be won by the steadiest team. I donâ€™t expect the Braves to dominate but theyâ€™ve got enough depth to withstand their less-talented divisional foes.
2. Philadelphia Phillies â€“ I love Phillyâ€™s offense, but their pitching might stink.
3. New York Mets â€“ Eh, I donâ€™t know. Theyâ€™ve got some studs, but they do every year, and every year they underachieve. Why would 2006 be any different?
4. Washington Nationals â€“ The Nats are going to suck. They just might be the second-worst team in the league. The only thing saving them from the cellar is that theâ€¦
5. Florida Marlins â€“ are even worse. Poor Dontrelle.
1. St. Louis Cardinals â€“ I donâ€™t see any way these guys will be as good as last year. Sidney Ponson is fat and lame.
2. Houston Astros â€“ With or without Clemens, the â€˜Stros will have the same horses that have made them competitive the past couple years. These guys bore me though.
3. Milwaukee Brewers â€“ Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder are the future, and the future is now. Predictions: Ben Sheets will be great, Derrick Turnbow will not.
4. Chicago Cubs â€“ Victor Zambrano, Derrick Lee and a bunch of injured fools do not a championship team make. Plus, Dusty Baker is overrated.
5. Cincinnati Reds â€“ Dunn, Griffey and Lopez will keep them competitive, but they simply have no chance in Hell of winning the pennant.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates â€“ Jason Bay is their one and only stud.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers â€“ A solid core of players (no superstars) competing in what will probably be a shitty division. Furcal, Penny and Gagne are the team studs.
2. San Diego Padres â€“ Why base your team on power hitters when you play in Petco Park? Likewise, why ignore the pitching staff? They should be competitive, but I wouldnâ€™t count much on Piazza, Klesko and Castilla.
3. San Francisco Giants â€“ I canâ€™t imagine these guys escaping injury all season. Their age will haunt them sooner or later.
4. Colorado Rockies â€“ Actually had a great second half last season. Their lineup will be decent, but the pitching is suspect. Suspect, I tell ya, suspect.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks â€“ They might be okay, I just donâ€™t care. Iâ€™m picking them for last place because Orlando Hernandez is on the team. I hate that guy.
AL Wildcard: Yankees over Angels, White Sox over Athletics
NL Wildcard: Cardinals over Braves, Phillies over Dodgers
World Series: Yankees over Cardinals