As Major League Baseball begins its 162-game death march to October this week, fans of every team — sans the Pirates, probably — are brimming with optimism and anticipating a successful season. After all, last year the Rays shocked many (or rather, those who couldn’t see it coming) by advancing all the way to the World Series — only to be taken down by the Phillies.
Because of this, many writers and commentators are making seemingly shocking predictions with the hope of finding this year’s Tampa Bay. Tyler Kepner of the New York Times, for example, predicted in his blog that the Kansas City Royals would win the AL Central Division.
Now, I’m all for prognostication that flies in the face of accepted logic and mainstream thought (notice I didn’t say common sense), but unless Mr. Kepner stumbled upon a Gray’s Sports Almanac while traveling through time with Doc Brown, I refuse to take such a forecast seriously.
Of course, many will ask, why not the Royals? If the Rays can do it, why not the Royals? The Tampa Bay blueprint is not a simple one to duplicate, and the Royals have amassed barely a tenth of the talent in the last similarly futile decade or so. This past off–season was a perfect example.
Rather than stockpile pitching and young, pre-arbitration talent, Dayton Moore (general manager of the Royals) targeted Mike Jacobs — an underwhelming first baseman, whose inability to get on base will surely negate whatever slugging he provides. To make matters worse, the starting rotation features Horacio Ramirez. I shudder at the thought.
That is not to say the Royals will finish last in the Central — I can assure you that place will belong to the woebegone Detroit Tigers, whose management is employing kamikaze tactics in order to either a) save their jobs or b) take the organization down as well. I encourage you to tune in to a game prior to June —when manager Jim Leyland will either a) die in the dugout or b) be fired, and die shortly thereafter.
I would certainly be remiss if I wrote a column dedicated to false baseball hope and neglected to mention the Chicago Cubs. Will they win it all? Perhaps.
Even as a White Sox fan, I bear no ill will towards the organization itself, but rather its fans, who insist on dedicating their thrice daily Facebook status updates to their beloved Cubs. That is enough to make me pull for the Cardinals. Of course, I may pity them come July, as I’m fairly certain Milton Bradley will burn down Wrigley Field after losing a ball in the ivy.
I suppose this is where I make my predictions; but be warned, they are rather boring and lack shock value. Here goes: AL East: Red Sox, AL Central: Indians, AL West: Athletics, Wild Card: Orioles (just kidding, Rays — although I will bet anyone on this campus the O’s finish above .500). NL East: Braves, NL Central: Cubs, NL West: Dodgers, Wild Card: Phillies. World Series: Red Sox over Braves.
In addition to this, I predict that I’ll organize a hunger strike around mid-May intended to bar DeWayne Wise from Major League Baseball. Forever. Join me in my struggle, please.