(I'll get to the Final Four later in the week, but I will say this could be the best Final Four ever. There's not only four number one seeds, but after watching every game these last four days, they were clearly the best teams- although Davidson and Stephen Curry? Wow. Just wow. Without even realizing it I stood up out of my chair every time Curry put up a three because I was expecting it to go in. Just electric. He will be missed but there's some great hoops to come.)
Monday is one of the best sports days of the year, right up there with the opening Thursday and Friday of March Madness. When I rule the world these WILL be national holidays, since every guy is trying to skip work to watch. Well except for Canada- while their March Madness coverage has been excellent, let's just say the opening day baseball coverage is lacking. Severely. 14 games tomorrow, and guess how many are being broadcasted by any one of the THREE Canadian sports networks? If you guessed ZERO, well then you are correct. What are they showing instead? Curling, poker, MMA, and the Canucks game. I wish I were kidding.
Despite this, I'm still really excited for Opening Day (and by the way, we're pretending the season didn't start a week ago with a couple of games in Japan. Because if that happened it would be nothing short of retarded. No sport in their right mind would pull such a stunt- well except hockey if it still existed), and thought I should put up a mini-preview in its honor. Since I tend to rip others for their picks, I might as well man up and give mine.
WARNING: I did not put a lot of thought, research or time into this!!
2. New York*
3. Tampa Bay
* Wild Card. They damn well better with a $200 million payroll.
Not really going out on a limb here, but the Sox look to be the best team in the division, and the Yankees are the Yankees and will figure out a way. I'm really, really, REALLY bullish about Tampa Bay. They will be in the wild card hunt well into August, and if their bullpen doesn't explode (their one real weakness right now), into September too. Like the football team in that town did years ago, the "Rays" will go from punchline to front-of-the line starting next year. They're very well run and are absolutely LOADED with good young talent. Beware the Rays. I feel the same way about the Blue Jays as I do about any other Toronto team, so my opinion of them is far from rational, but let's be honest: anyone from outside of Toronto takes one look at that team and says "wow, those guys blow." And Baltimore will be the worst team in baseball.
5. Kansas City
The Tiggers are my pick to win the whole thing. The bullpen is an issue, but it's also the easiest of any area to fix. Solid starters and the scariest offense we've seen in a long time. It's not that I love the White Sox, it's that I think Cleveland won't be as good as expected. They had a LOT go right last year (well besides Travis Hafner), and a repeat of that will be tough (sketchy pen, Hafner won't rebound back to his old self, and who's playing corner OF or 3rd?). I also think the Sox could bounce back, and be better than people think. There's ALWAYS at least one team who's much better, and one who's much worse than people think. These are my two in the AL I guess. The Twins? Wow. It hurts. Some good young talent but they're going to fall a ways I think. Better than the Royals, but not much better. And 2009 the Royals might be better. Twins Fever! Catch it! Seriously though, because they still have Mauer, Morneau, Cuddy, Nathan, and a stable of decent starters, they'll be ok, but there's just so many questions. And their infield other than Morneausy? Are you serious? I LOVE the Adam Everett signing because although he's one of the worst hitters in baseball, he's one of the best defenders. But since you're going to get nothing out of Everett at the plate, you need more offense in the lineup and the Twins don't have any. Whoever plays second will be the worst second baseman in the AL (I will wait for you to look it up if you want, or you can just trust me), and Mike Lamb is damn close to the worst at third. Hey look on the bright side Twins fans: at least you're paying for a brand new ballpark so your owner can REDUCE his payroll! Um let's just move on.
1. Orange County Angels
Not a good division, especially with the injury issues the Halos are having now with Escobar AND Lackey. Still I don't think Seattle is better, and Texas and Oakland are both rebuilding, although both will be better than expected. Not a good division. Be glad you don't have to watch anybody out here.
5. Warshington Nayshunuls
You can't not pick the Mets with Johan there. While they're not a perfect team, all of their issues are managable. Hotlanta's kind of a bandwagon pick, but I'm making it. Pitching will keep the Phils from the playoffs, Florida is getting good again but not that good and hey at least Warshington gets to play in a shiny new ballpark (did anybody watch the Sunday night game? Did the park look good? Because none of the 3 "Sports" networks carried that game either.)
4. St Louis
How do we have six teams in this division and only four in the AL West? A bunch of freaking geniuses running baseball right now. Anywho, yes I love the Brew Crew IF stud pitcher Yolani Gallardo comes back healthy and soon from injury (he's supposed to be back by late April). You haven't heard of him but you will. Their rotation is solid, they have enough arms in the pen if Gagne falters (I believe he'll be ok- not Dodgers days of old Ok but not "gasoline on a fire" like he was with the Red Sox either), and their lineup could be downright scary. I'm bullish on Ricky Weeks finally figuring things out, think Billy Hall will regain a bit of his stroke back at third, and LOVE the Mike Cameron signing. Defensively, Cameron in center (one of the best defenders in baseball) + Hall at 3B + Ryan Braun in left (not great but not gawd-awful like he was at third) will make a YUGE difference for them. You've probably heard plenty about the Cubbies already, and while I like them enough to grab the wild card, not quite enough to win the division. Cincy's looking pesky with better pitching than they've had in a long time (not saying much I know), and a solid order. Defense? Not so much, but playing in that small park if the ball actually stays in the yard guys don't have to run very far to get to it. With the Cards, Bucs and Stros? Flip a coin. They'll all be varying shades of unwatchable.
1. Los Angeles
2. German for a Whale's V&*^%a
8,473. San Francisco
I really like the Dodgers- like "could go to the World Series" kind of like. Tons of pitching depth, great pen, decent defense, and an offense with potential. While Jeff Kent is in decline and NO-MAH is d-o-n-e, they've got plenty of other bats and some good young kids. Also look for bounce-back years from Raffy Furcal and Andruw Jones. San Diego (founded by the German's in 1904) is a real sleeper. If they can get any offense at all, they could be tough. The Rocks return to earth a bit, and the D-Backs, well, I just never understood what made them good last year. Seriously, look at their lineup: what the deuce? THAT's the offense of a playoff team? Really? On what planet? I mean, I know the National League is the inferior league right now, but come on! I've seen "experts" picking them to win the division again because of how well they did last year AND now they have Dan Haren. Ok, fine their 1-2 punch in the rotation is awesome- BUT THE REST OF THEIR TEAM SUCKS!!!! I don't get it. The Giants will battle the O's for the worst team in the history of the universe.
AL: Miggy Cabrera, 3B, Tiggers
NL: Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers
AL: KING FELIX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Just kidding, it's Justin Verlander of the Tiggers)
NL: Johan Santana, Mets
Gleeman and The Geek #337: Wild Card Postgame Show
6 months ago