Phillips, see if you can get the BBQ sauce people in on this so my corporate whored-out name makes us some cash. I’m also willing to accept a lifetime supply of sauce.
Now that we are a week into the MLB season, it is time for me to unveil my official predictions for 2008. Originally I planned on doing this before the season actually started. But then the A’s and Red Sox opened in Japan before returning to the U.S. to play more spring training games, which threw me off.
I then planned on unveiling my predictions on the traditional opening day (last Monday), but was too hungover to do so. The next day was April Fools Day, meaning no one would take them seriously. Then we had a more interesting blog to write about a guy jerking off in a library. The Final Four. A great national championship game. An old friend came in from out of town. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts! I swear to God it wasn’t my fault!
But what could be bolder than making predictions after the season has already gotten underway? (Besides delicious KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce.) I’m still sticking to my guns, no matter how foolish they look now that some games have been played. (Er, sort of. I kind of decided to change my Tigers getting-to-the playoffs gun in favor of a different team winning the AL Wild Card. These guys are like the opposite of the ’84 Tigers.)
Everyone always lists the AL first when doing these types of things. Here’s a poke into all their eyes.
1. Mets (93-69) After tasting what 1969 felt like for the Cubs in last September’s collapse, the Mets are ready to rebound and climb back on top of the NL East standings. Just like the ’70 Cubs did. Well, just like they would have if they had picked up Johan Santana in the off-season.
2. Braves (88-74) It’ll feel like 1996 for most of the summer as the Braves win ballgames with Smoltz and Glavine anchoring the rotation and Clinton running for President. Only these Braves won’t go to the postseason because they have Will Ohman in their bullpen and this Clinton won’t go to the White House because she’s a bitch. (Oops, I think I just lost our sponsor.)
3. Phillies (85-77) It won’t be long until everyone in Philly thinks Charlie Manuel is an idiot again. Until they realize he’s actually younger than No. 3 starter Jamie Moyer.
4. Nationals (74-88) Has anyone figured out why the Nationals opened the season with a single game against the Braves? Seriously, they played a one-game series. I have never seen that before. And it bothers the hell out of me. Anyway, playing in a new ballpark should bolster the Nats this year, just as PNC Park has made the Pirates better over the years.
5. Marlins (72-90) The majority of the Marlins’ wins will come against the Cubs, who haven’t won a game in Florida in about seven years. On a side note, I actually saw a guy wearing a Marlins jersey the other day. Seriously. In public, no less. I’d say there is about a 50/50 chance he is actually on the team.
1. Cubs (91-71) Nothing is ever easy with this team, and this season will be no exception. But provided that Alfonso Soriano figures out how to get his batting average over .100 and Kerry (Knock On) Wood goes a whole season without his arm falling off, the Cubs should be in pretty good shape to make back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in 100 years. (On that note, I am pretty sure I just damned them into a 15-game losing streak.)
2. Brewers (84-78) Top to bottom, nobody has a better lineup in the National League than the Brew Crew. Nor does anyone have a worse-looking bullpen, as the Brewers are going to find out that throwing $10 million at a post-steroid Eric Gagne makes about as much sense as tendering a contract to Brady Anderson. But if they can somehow piece together pitching, they’ll be breathing down the Cubs’ necks until the final weekend of the season.
3. Reds (81-81) Things are finally looking up for the Reds, who have the talent to stay in the division race all summer but the lack of experience that will see them peter out right around Labor Day. If Dusty Baker doesn’t make young guys like Johnny Cueto throw 200 pitches per outing, this team figures to compete for a playoff spot next season.
4. Astros (76-86) According to my calculations, this means the Astros will average one win for each different uniform combination that they wear.
5. Cardinals (75-87) We already saw how drunk Tony LaRussa, Josh Hancock (too soon?) and Scott Spiezio got when the Bengals of baseball were actually good. It’ll be interesting to see how much Bud flows now that this team is going to suck.
6. Pirates (72-90) You know that scene in Batman where The Joker says “This town needs an enema”? So does this franchise.
1. Diamondbacks (92-70) The D’backs might be the best team in the National League this year. But playing in a nasty division, they probably aren’t going to get home-field advantage in the playoffs. Then again, considering their crappy attendance, it probably wouldn’t help anyway.
2. Dodgers (90-72)* For those of you wondering what the asterisk means, it is an indication that the Dodgers will win the NL Wild Card.
3. Rockies (87-75) The Rocks made a once in a lifetime run to the World Series last year. They have the talent to do it again, but nobody has that kind of luck. Except maybe Andy Roddick.
4. Padres (82-80) The Padres have a pitching staff that is good enough to lead just about any team to a pennant. Except for their own, which has an offense that has the potency of Bob Dole pre-Viagra.
5. Giants (59-103) Wow. What is there to say about this team? Scouring through the record books, I found that the 1985 Giants were the only team in the 120-plus year history of the franchise to lose 100 games. I think they are about to be joined by a squad that has Randy Winn hitting cleanup. How’s that Barry Zito signing looking, guys? And what was Bruce Bochy thinking leaving San Diego? Meet the Pirates of the next decade.
1. Yankees (95-67) Joe Girardi already knows how to win Manager of the Year honors while leading an inexperienced team and dealing with a meddlesome owner. Now we get to see what he can do with an experienced team and a no annoyances from the front office. Cough.
2. Blue Jays (91-72)* That’s right folks! Here’s your boldest prediction of the 2008 season. Just as the Canadian dollar has come out of nowhere to supplant its American brother, Toronto will upset the Yankees-Red Sox axis that has reigned over the AL East for the past decade. And to make my pick even spicier, I anticipate that they will win the Wild Card in a one-game playoff against the Tigers. I might want to work on that part of my pick, though.
3. Red Sox (89-73) Remember how we were talking about how Boston ruled the sports world last October? The Red Sox were champs, the Patriots were rolling and the Celtics were loaded. Even Boston College football was making noise. Well, all that karma has to run out some time. And that time is now. Somewhere along the line, a major injury is going to derail the Sox enough for the Jays to leapfrog them.
4. _____ Rays (77-85) Now that they’ve dropped the Devil from their name, the ____ Rays are poised to have the finest season of their miserable existence. Sadly, anything less than 90 losses will qualify for that mark. In fact, I see this team at the .500 mark or higher at the All-Star break. But Satan will have his revenge and curse them with a typically bad second half of the season.
5. Orioles (67-95) If there is anything that The Wire taught us, it’s that living in Baltimore sucks. If there’s anything that this year’s Orioles will teach us, it’s that living in Baltimore is about to suck even worse.
1. Indians (94-68) If you could pick a song for closer Joe Borowski to enter the game to, what would it be? I’m thinking the song from “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” would be a good one. Or the Benny Hill music. Here’s hoping for another 40-save season for JoeBo, no matter how high that ERA goes.
2. Tigers (90-73) As previously noted, I have the Tigers losing a one-game playoff to the Blue Jays. Although a week ago I would have had them winning said game. A week from now, I might jump back onto this post to “predict” 90 losses.
3. White Sox (83-79) This year’s biggest off-season pickup was adding Steve Stone as color commentator in the radio booth. Seriously. You’d be shocked to learn that White Sox games are now remotely listenable. Looks like the TV situation still isn’t going to sort out until the long-anticipated Hawk Harrelson-Jay Mariotti death match, though.
4. Royals (78-84) Returning to powder blue unis (check out this tremendous homage) on selected home dates will lift the Royals out of last place. Unfortunately, they won’t be returning to contention until a full-fledged return to the powder blues as road uniforms takes place.
5. Twins (77-85) The Twins would easily be the third-best team in the NL Central. Unfortunately, that isn’t their division.
1. Angels (89-73) The addition of Jon Garland should boost the Halos this year, who will continue to make people forget how bad they once were as a franchise. Or that they don’t actually play in Los Angeles.
2. Mariners (88-74) The only thing separating the M’s from the Angels is a significant injury. If it happens, these two will flip-flop in their finish. Either way, expect the most significant late season games between the Mariners and Angels since Enrico Palazzo called the balls and strikes.
3. Athletics (80-82) Even if the A’s finish below .500, they’ll still be about 20 games better than their rivals across the Bay. I don’t see a reprise of the ’89 World Series coming along any time soon.
4. Rangers (73-89) This franchise really hasn’t done anything meaningful in the 10 years since George W. Bush left office. I sure hope that isn’t a case of foreshadowing.
Bold playoff prediction: One of the teams that makes it to the postseason will have Kenny Lofton on its roster.
Cubs beat D’backs, 3-2. Revenge exacted for ’07 playoff flameout. I don’t know how. It’ll just happen.
Mets beat Dodgers, 3-1. Joe Torre returns to New York for the playoffs. It doesn’t end well.
Indians beat B. Jays, 3-0. Oy, Canada! The Jays’ first playoff appearance since Joe Carter will end quickly. But at least the loonie will probably still be worth more than the buck.
Angels beat Yankees, 3-2. According to these calculations, the Yankees will lose the final game in the House that Ruth Built. For whatever reason, the Angels seem to own them like the Marlins own the Cubs. This is all subject to change, of course, if the Yanks end up facing the Mariners.
Cubs beat Mets, 4-3. The Mets will build a 3-0 series lead before squandering it, and revenge for the ’69 Cubs will be exacted. Ron Santo will celebrate by firing M-80s from his prosthetic legs.
Indians beat Angels, 4-2. This year, the gnats of Lake Erie will finish the job they started.
The Indians haven’t won it all since ’54. The Cubs haven’t since ’08 — the other ’08. Somebody finally has to go home happy. Will it be the most accursed city in America, or the most accursed team in baseball?
Fox can pay me for the intro I just wrote when this actually happens. As for my actual pick…
Indians 4, Cubs 3. C.C. Sabathia will lead the Tribe to the win in his final game before defecting to the Yankees or Red Sox (but not before Joe Borowski nearly blows the save.)