Baseball Predictions

Matt Welch is goading me to post my predictions, so here we go:

NL East

1. Phillies: A super-talented team with a good balance of pitching and hitting.
2. Mets*: Pitching staff is incredibly weak, especially in the bullpen and they’re so old they’re going to have a lot of injuries. Wild Card pick.
3. Marlins: Very talented young team that could surprise some people.
4. Braves: Not the Braves of yore.
5. Nationals: Sad.

NL Central

1. Brewers: Craftily-built team like the Tigers of last year.
2. Astros: If Clemens comes back without too much drama and injuries don’t strike.
3. Cardinals: Lost the entire pitching staff except for Carpenter and downgraded infield.
4. Cubs: All hype, no substance, plus they have the A’s old hitting coach.
5. Reds: Not enough depth.
6. Pirates: Hapless as usual.

NL West

1. Dodgers: Great rotation, lots of talent.
2. Giants: An excellent rotation, but a weak pen and too many geezers.
3. Padres: Not as good as last year, even.
4. Diamondbacks: Randy Johnson is past it, and they have no power.
5. Rockies: Why won’t they finish last?

Pennant Winner: Phillies

AL East

1. Red Sox: Dice K anchors a bitching rotation, and the rest are good enough for Fenway.
2. Yankees: Still no pitching and a weak bullpen.
3. Devil Rays: Not as bad as they look.
4. Blue Jays: I’d like to see them do better, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
5. Orioles: Ho-hum.

AL Central

1. Indians: All around best team in the division.
2. Tigers*: Last year was a fluke, and they played to form in the World Series.
3. Twins: Liriano on the DL for at least half the season, and not enough behind Santana.
4. White Sox: Crazy ass manager, weak pitching staff.
5. Royals: Sad.

AL West

1. A’s: The perennial favorite, barring injuries to key players, will repeat, and Travis Buck will win Rookie of the Year.
2. Mariners: A much improved team, but pitching is still weak after King Felix.
3. Rangers: New manager Ron Washington feeling his way around the bigs, too many smallball delusions.
4. Angels: Loss of Bud Black will kill the pitching staff’s health, aging position players will melt down, and the most over-rated manager in baseball now what Dusty Baker’s on TV will botch the lineup day after day. By season’s end, Gary Matthews will be on the lam from the cops, Guerrero will get a hip replacement, Shields’ arm will come flying off in chase of Heather Mills’ leg, and Anderson will need a new liver.

Pennant Winner: A’s.

WS: A’s in 6.

Turn out the lights

The party’s over*. The Rustbelt Puddy Tats keep on playing the same way they played all year, and Oakland, like the Yankers before them, are so severely affected by post-season hype they’ve forgotten how to do the things that Little-Leaguers do every day. Baseball is a simple game: you throw the ball, you hit the ball, and you catch the ball. Except when you’re so full of nerves that you don’t.

Jim Leyland has programmed his kids to tune out the noise and focus on the immediate task, and Ken Macha hasn’t. So that’s the way the season ends, not with a bang but a whimper.


*Technically, the Puddies have to win one more game, but it would take a miracle of epic proportions for the A’s to pull this one out; something like parting the waters of the Red Sea only bigger. Hope springs eternal, so maybe it will happen. I’d like for it to happen, don’t get me wrong. But I ain’t betting the farm on it. Or the car. Or even a stick of gum. I like my gum, by gum. Go A’s!

Let’s go Oakland!

Today the Mighty A’s play their biggest game of the year. Down 2-0 in the ALCS against the hated Rustbelt Tiggers, the Green and Gold need a win to nullify the Tigger advantage and raise hopes of turning the series around. Crafty Kenny Rogers is pitching for the freedom-hating pussy cats, but Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood is lashed with snow, sleet, hail, freezing rain, and hurricane-force winds. The forces of Sweetness and Light send eskimo Rich Harden to the mound, where his blazing fastball should be able to melt the snow.

Big Hurt Frank Thomas, Medium Hurt Nick Swisher, and Little Hurt Marco Scutaro need to rise to the occasion or all will be lost, as the nation’s greatest ballplayer, the mighty Milton Bradley, can only carry about half a team on his shoulders at any given time.

Dig deep, men, and triumph.

Disappointing loss in game 2

It was a game in which the A’s came up short again, by almost as much as they did in game 1, but it seemed a lot closer with the potential winning run at the plate in the ninth inning in the person of Frank Thomas. And it was only that close because of the A’s outfielders, Milton Bradley, Mark Kotsay, and Jay Payton. Uncle Milton in put in one of the all-time great personal performances you’ll ever see in baseball, hitting homers from either side of the plate, and driving in 4 of the A’s 5 runs. And his fielding and throwing were great, as always. This man is an All-Star.

The infield sucked, however. They failed to hit, failed to make the big plays, and even failed to make the routine play on one occasion. Swisher has yet to put a batted ball in play, let alone hit safely against the Tigers. Jimenez flubs routine ground balls in every game, Scutaro can’t buy a hit, and Chavez looks like Mr. Mediocre. Kendall is doing what Kendall does, and the bullpen is sharp except for Street, but that’s nothing new. But poor infield play and poor starting pitching may not be the things holding the A’s back as much as poor managing and coaching. When you have a pitcher who’s fooling nobody in a playoff game, you need to pull him sooner rather than later.

But it’s not over. A couple of good starts in Detroit and the series is tied 2-2 and we have home field advantage again. And with Harden and Haren going up against Rogers and Bonderman, in the snow and ice, that could easily happen. Very easily.

So all these boys need to do is take a step back, shake off the cooties, and go at with relish, like Milton Bradley does. That stud is Oakland’s spiritual leader, and he’s a winner.

Go A’s!