Thursday, March 31, 2005

Dead Wrong in Public

Here's a reprint of the baseball predictions for 2005 that I sent out to my sports fan friends today -- feel free to ignore this post if you don't care for baseball:

Okay, the time has come. My first game of 2005 is on tonight, and even though it's still preseason, I'm excited. So I can't put it off any longer. It's time to fish or cut bait, put up or shut up, stand up for what I believe, put my money where my mouth is and numerous other shopworn cliches. It's time, in other words, for my annual baseball predictions.

Before I start, though, let me get something out of the way right off the bat: I don't care one tiny little bit about steroids. I don't give a skinny rat's ass whether Barry Bonds or Jason Giambi or Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa or Jose Canseco or any other player, from the superstars to the marginal cup of coffee benchwarmers, injected, smeared or swallowed steroids or any other potentially performance enhancing substance (like amphetamines, for instance). I just don't care, any more than I care that Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Edgar Allen Poe used opium, or that Vincent Van Gogh and Henri Toulouse-Latrec fairly drowned themselves in absinthe, or that Louis Armstrong and nearly every worthwhile musician since smoked pot, or that Miles Davis and Charlie Parker and Keith Richards shot heroin, or that Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald pickled their livers with alcohol, or that Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon and Ken Kesey used LSD, or that Hunter S. Thompson tried absolutely everything he could get his hands on. I don't care if Lance Armstrong was guilty of blood-doping. I don't care if Keith Hernandez or Dave Parker or Mercury Morris snorted cocaine. It doesn't matter to me that the East German Olympic athletes of the '60s and '70s were so full of hormones and steroids and whatnot that they all changed gender en masse. As far as I'm concerned, it's human nature to use drugs, to try to alter our consciousness and our reality by artificial means. Substance abuse registers pretty much not at all on my radar screen.

So. That said, let's get down to the meat of the matter: Whose teams are going to suck the worst this year? Yours? Mine? Someone else's? Yes. Someone else's.

Some random thoughts:

The Dodgers won the NL West last year, but they are going down this year. Jeff Kent? Ricky Ledee? No Adrian Beltre or Shawn Green? Please. Brad Penny wasn't the answer last year, nor will he be this year, unless the question is, "What former Dodger is now the proud owner of a health club franchise with outlets in Baldwin Park and Puente Hills?" And Eric Gagne might have a little too much junk in his trunk, I mean knee, to last all season. The Giants, even with Bonds likely out until June, have the pitching to contend and maybe even dominate. I'm a loyal fan, I own a season ticket, and I'm picking them to go all the way this year. All the goddamned way.

Poor Dusty Baker. He's in pretty much a can't-win situation. Getting rid of Sosa was the right thing to do, but unless he takes that team to the World Series and wins it this year, the fans will be calling for his head. In fact, they'll probably be doing that by mid-June. They'll be lucky to finish third in that division. The Cardinals will once again kick every other team in the NL Central to the curb, take their lunch money and then fold in the playoffs.

I hate picking the Braves to win their division again, but until it doesn't happen, I won't believe it. Or something like that. There will be a year when Bobby Cox's nine doesn't have a mortal lock on the NL East. This isn't that year. The Marlins will, of course, contend, and then look like the second coming of the '27 Yankees late in the year. They will go to the playoffs as a Wild Card and ultimately lose.

The Angels now officially have the worst -- and stupidest -- and worst -- name in all of baseball, direct from the Department of Redundancy Department. The The Angels Angels of Anaheim. Los Los Angeles Angeles de Anaheim. Nevertheless, they have perhaps the best manager in all of baseball (and oh, how it pains me to say that about a former Dodger!), a good, solid pitching staff and exceptional bullpen, and Vladimir Guerrero. Forget it. Angels Angels win win the the AL AL West West.

The Twins will take the Central again, because who else can win that division? Maybe the White Sox, but that's putting a lot of weight on new cancer A. J. Pierzynski's shoulders. If A. J. can refrain from kneeing the Sox's trainer in the nuts early in the season (as he did last year to Giants' trainer Stan Conte), they have a chance. But the Twins have the pitching. Nobody else in that division does.

I hate the fucking Yankees. Can't stand 'em. Wish they'd fold up their franchise and go away. But, like the Braves, the division is theirs to lose. Short a plane crash or tsunami off Long Island, it's Yankees in the playoffs one more time this year. The Red Sox will probably win the Wild Card again this year, but it will likely be another 86 years before they win another World Series. Everyone else in the AL East is just cannon fodder.

Enough blather. Here's how they stack up, Generik-style:

NL West

NL Central

NL East

AL West

AL Central
White Sox

AL East
Red Sox
Blue Jays
Devil Rays

That's it, read 'em and weep. Or rejoice, because it's BASEBALL SEASON!!
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