So I decided to write a season preview. About two-thirds of the way through the National League, I realized how bored I was. I sounded like Dayn Perry when he stops talking about boobs and goes into Neyer wannabe mode. If I were a better writer than I am, I would have junked the whole thing and written about something else. But it's impossible for me to be a better writer than I am, so I just wrote the whole think as flippantly and swearlogically as possible. So if you're an impressionable kid, don't fucking read this. You might also want to skip it if you're a Cubs or Twins fan.
1. Florida Marlins
2. Atlanta Braves
3. New York Mets
4. Philadelphia Phillies
5. Washington Nationals
I guess I'm going out on a limb here. You're not supposed to pick against the Braves until they actually don't win the division. And if you do go with someone else, it shouldn't be the Marlins. Let's not forget, though, that Florida spent a fair amount of time in first place last year, and the addition of Carlos Delgado should make a huge difference in their offense. And Miguel Cabrera could be going into the Hall of Fame in 25 years, so pay attention now. I met Jeff Conine once. My roommate called him "champ."
Anyway, the division is wide open, and the only things that would shock me would the Mets in first and the Nats anywhere but last. I'm thrilled enough to have a team that I don't have to delude myself into thinking that they're the 1969 Mets, the bones of their kings new-covered with flesh. What about the Phillies? You probably knew this since they're playing the Nats, but the Phillies have Jon Lieber as their Opening Day starter. Jon Fucking Lieber! I mean, I'm sure he's a nice guy and all, but when you come right down to it, he's not much more than Tomo Ohka without the unchanging expression and ninja tricks. Worst number one starter in the division by a huge margin.
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Houston Astros
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Milwaukee Brewers
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
I'm not speaking as a fan (if I were doing that, Chicago would be in ass-naked last. I hate the Cubs): the Cards are going to win this division and make it look easy. Again. Are they as good as last year? Nah, probably not, but they don't have to be, since Houston and Chicago got worse and they won by thirteen games last year. "But Ironhead," the Cubs fans whine, "what about the pitching?" Well, guess what team gave up the fewest runs in the NL last year. You only get one guess because I'm making it pretty obvious, but here's a hint: they added Mark Mulder. And don't give me any of that "but if someone gets hurt" bullshit. That's true of every team in history, first off. Furthermore, the Cards' main rivals are counting on Iron Man Nomar Garciaparra and a pitching staff that's already lousy with injuries.
Elsewhere in the division, I wouldn't be surprised to see Houston, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee finish in any order. The Reds could score some runs if Austin Kearns or Ken Griffey stays healthy. If Kearns and Griffey stay healthy . . . eh, who am I kidding? Pittsburgh's going to be worse than we are.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Diego Padres - Wild Card
3. San Francisco Giants
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5 Colorado Rockies
Hell, I dunno. Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta is a sabermetric genius, and I'm favor of all that stuff, but I can't imagine the spreadsheet that tells you not to sign Adrian Beltre for $13 million a year. Still, they've got a solid team, even without Distinguished Senators favorite Jose Lima. I picked San Diego for the Wild Card because I don't think anyone in the Central's good enough and because the East teams are all going to beat the hell out of one another. This is kind of a lame division. I'll just pretend it doesn't exist. "LA vs. San Francisco on ESPN, eh? Is the PCL trying to get recognized as a major league again? Well, go Seals!" The Rockies are like the Orioles in that they have a great ballpark and used to sell tremendous numbers of tickets but pissed it all away. Unfortunately for the Rockies, they don't have the excuse of a team moving to Salt Lake City to cover up their shitty management.
1. Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees - Wild Card
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Whatever other team plays in this division
The Sox have crazy depth. Their rotation is twelve or thirteen deep. The Yankees are very brittle and have Bernie Williams hobbling around in center. But I'm done talking about these damn teams - I'm sick of the national sports media and MLB acting like the Sox and Yankees are the only two teams that matter, so screw 'em. Baltimore is pretty solid this year. They get a lot of offense from positions generally lacking in that area (catcher, short), and the acquisition of Sosa ameliorates the problem of not getting offense from positions rich in jacked dingers. Too bad they're relying on a pack of wild youths and baseball's biggest, fattest fuck-up to pitch for them (Fun Fact: Sidney Ponson briefly attempted a boxing career. It was derailed when opponents discovered that his navel was vulnerable when he taunted his adversary). Toronto is worse than they were last year but might have a better record. Given their bad luck last year and their moves during the offseason, I think it's theologically defensible to say that God hates the Blue Jays. I know Tampa Bay has an exciting crop of prospects and whatnot, but they wear green. I ain't worrying about any team that's green. The best thing that can happen in Tampa this year is if Lou Piniella gets so pissed off that he rips out his own heart and shows it still beating to the ump. It could happen.
1. Minnesota Twins
2. Cleveland Indians
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Detroit Tigers
5. Kansas City Royals
I thought about making some far-out pick here - I mean, it's only the AL Central; who gives a rat's ass? And the thing about wacky picks is that no one remembers if you're wrong (of course the Hanshin Tigers didn't win the AL Central!), but you can use that one time out of a thousand that you're right to make yourself look good for years (I'd say this is what Will Carroll has done, but I can't recall him getting anything right). Eventually I decided to go a little out there and pick the Indians, but that's what everyone else is doing, so I picked the Twins to be the big fish in the small pond for the fourth straight year, whereupon they will get humiliated by the Sox. No offense to Ball Wonk, but I hate the goddamn Twins. Minnesota stole our team by virtue of being full of white people (I take solace in the fact that our Walter Johnson is and always will be the best pitcher in the history of their franchise). They cheated to win two World Series, they play in baseball's ugliest facility, and they have a stupid-ass name. I'm not even going to mention the "Kirby Puckett doing what Dayn Perry can only talk about" incident because Puckett was acquitted. On the other hand, they're all kinds of old school but still win their division every year and produce high-quality major leaguers at a remarkable rate, which is a nice reality check for the guys with the special editions of Moneyball with Billy Beane's words in red (yes, I've used that gag before, but I still think it's funny). I got nothing to say about the rest of this half-assed division. The Orioles would win it. Yeah, that's right - the fucking Orioles.
1. Los Angeles Angels
2. Oakland Athletics
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Texas Rangers
Now this is a division. No Royals in this pack. I know I'm in the minority here, but I like the Angels' new name, at least the "Los Angeles" part. For one thing, it was the original name of the franchise. More importantly, the L.A. Angels were in the old PCL, which I mentioned before and which was rad. As far as I'm concerned, the Dodgers and Giants should have been compelled to change their names to Angels and Seals respectively when they moved to California; Seals may never come back, but at least we can enjoy the Los Angeles Angels, easily the best name for an expansion team ever. The "of Anaheim" part is silly, of course, but that's politics. Deal with it, Anaheim: no one wants that in their name except for some silly-ass hockey team named after a fucking Disney movie. For fuck's sake.
The other good thing about the Angels is that they, like the butthole Twins, drive SABR-types nuts. If you'll recall, last year the A's were supposed to win the division easily because Billy Beane's a genius and everything. He is - I'm not denying that - but the Angels cleverly responded by spending four hundred million goddamn dollars. Some fraction of that went to lardy or just adequate pitchers, but quite a bit lined the pockets of MVP Vladimir Guerrero. The result: even after being ravaged by injuries, the Angels pulled out a one game victory over the Beaney Babies. This time it won't be so close. The Angels don't do things the way I would do them ($8 million a year for Orlando Cabrera?!), but they have enough money and homegrown talent that it doesn't matter (plus they fucked Jim Bowden up pretty bad in getting Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis - who constitute a good bench pretty much all by themselves - for a dickhead they didn't want anymore anyway). Meanwhile, the A's are tightening the belt and hoping a bunch of kids can the get the pitching job done. Elsewhere, the Mariners made the best signing of the offseason is grabbing Adrian Beltre for a relatively low price. They also added Richie Sexson, who performed perhaps the raddest act in Major League history when he knocked out part of his own picture on the Jumbotron with a home run. It came at the cost of the rest of his season, but shit - that was worth it. Texas will once again score a lot of runs and hope Chan Ho Park can pitch in with an ERA under 8. Hey, remember when Park tried to dropkick that guy? That was sweet.
Cardinals over Padres
Marlins over Dodgers
Cardinals over Marlins
Red Sox over Twins
Angels over Yankees
Angels over Red Sox
World Series: Cardinals over Angels
Awards, National League
MVP: Carlos "Skinny Chuck" Delgado, Florida
Cy Young: Jake Peavy, San Diego
Manager of the Year: Jim Tracy, Los Angeles
MVP: Victor Martinez, Cleveland (yeah, it's a long shot, but I really like Victor Martinez)
Cy Young: Johan "Johnny St. Ann" Santana, Minnesota
Manager of the Year: Who's managing Texas? Showalter? Him.