This photo was taken last year. I do love Easter Baseball!! Well, Good Friday aka 1st night Pesach is the perfect time to start up baseball!! We’ll all be struggling with Moses and Jesus big moments of Zen. Click thru for an old guy’s opinion on the 2012-13 Baseball season.
Meet my buddy, Ken Jones. Yes, he really argues with water coolers. Don’t be fooled by the FC Dallas gear, Ken Jones is one of the most diehard baseball fans I know. I thought long and hard about giving my own predictions comparing them with Ken’s picks. But after reading his breakdown of how the season will turn out, I had to just re-post it!
Ken Jones, an old guy, gives you the official PSD MLB Preview.
These are Ken’s thoughts. So if you disagree, hate on him! If you like them, thank me for posting it!
Opening Day is the best moment in the baseball season. All 30 teams start undefeated, with great hopes, new players, and six months of untold potential lying in front of them. Looking out from the freshly-mown playing fields of April, anything is possible.
Well, okay, except for the Astros. Their record this season is going to look more like a survivor-to-fallen-defender ratio at the Alamo. (In fact, they may be so historically bad that I wouldn’t be surprised if the National League kicks them out after the 2012 season…). But for the other 29 MLB franchises, anything is possible.
Unless you are one of the “other” eight in the American League, where the playoff field is almost set already. Mathematical Elimination Fever grips fans in Minnesota, Cleveland, Baltimore, Toronto, KC, and Chicago’s south side. Oakland and Seattle are each already a half game out of first thanks to opening the season a week early in Japan. (I would think that having another week of Spring Training after playing 2 games that count in Asia and flying home, would leave both teams – wait for it – disoriented…) So in truth, there will be six AL teams will battling it out for the newly-expanded 5 playoff spots, including two wildcard teams meeting for a one-game series in the Bud Selig Cup.
In the National League, things are a little more even. The league’s best two players moved over to the AL, taking away advantages in Milwaukee and St. Louis. There are great pitchers galore, but most of them are on teams that are offensively challenged. And the Cubs and Dodgers have yet to transform into the Super Clubs that they can be, although new Chicago GM Theo Epstein and the new LA owners group will have that corrected soon enough. But for 2012, each NL division should see an actual, honest-to-goodness pennant race.
The Detroit Tigers should take care of the other teams in the weak-to-mediocre AL Central. With new signee Prince Fielder leaving deep tracks in the dirt around first just like his dad used to do across town, and a couple of top-twenty pitchers in Doug Fister and Justin Verlander, the Tigers should hold off any challenge from the never-count-them-out Twins.
The trio of beasts in the AL East will keep another season of epic battles and far too much media coverage in full swing. Pencil 2 of these 3 teams into the playoffs.
The Yankees are older in spots, but with youngsters like Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson coming into their prime, they can afford to lose a step or two, both on bases and in A-Rod’s little blackbook.
The Boston Red Sox are going to be the seasons most watched and talked about experiment. You start with last September’s amazing nosedive out of the playoffs, a crash so epic that filmmaker Ken Burns already has a new 22-hour episode of his documentary lined up for PBS with nothing but Red Sox footage and weepy New Englander angst. Factor in lingering clubhouse friction, the departure of jig-dancing closer Jonathan Papelbon, and an ill-advised trade of the only shortstop the club had ready to play at the major league level. Then add new manager Bobby Valentine, who is a circus all by himself. It should be amazing to watch. And if the Yankees slow down, it could end up in a playoff spot for Boston despite all the upcoming turmoil.
The Tampa Rays have a great manager, young talent, and some very good pitching. They also have the advantage of playing games in front of crowds smaller than my graduating class in high school. Manager Joe Maddon does a masterful job of keeping his guys loose by telling them it’s not really MLB competition. Would they really play in the dump that is Tropicana Field if it was? Wouldn’t they draw five-digit crowds if it was? Each year, he manages to turn low expectations into a post-season berth.
The Orange County-Anaheim-California-LA Angels went to work in the offseason, trying to close the gap with Texas by picking up the two players most responsible for the St. Louis Cardinals winning the 2011 World Series: 1B Albert Pujols from StL and lefty CJ Wilson from the Rangers. They’ve also covered home plate in bubble wrap so no one injuries themselves scoring. They even bought a new suit for their Rally Monkey. Manager Mike Scioscia will find a way to get this team back to the post-season.
Two-time defending AL Champion Texas Rangers…wait, hang on, I wanna type that again… Two-time defending AL Champion Texas Rangers – ahhhhhhh – need to find a way to put aside their 2011 World Series heartbreak and try to focus on 2012. Of course, last season they had to put aside the 2010 WS heartbreak. And the year before that they had to overcome their manager getting caught trying cocaine, as well as the periodic Josh Hamilton misstep with sobriety. My point is that this team doesn’t get real bothered by those kinds of things.
The line-up still features mashers and professional hitters top to bottom. The defense is still near the best in the league. And when your 4th and 5th starters are probably going to be your 1st and 2nd starters in a couple of years, the Rangers will do just fine this summer.
Far from the warm glow of television broadcasts, with games that finish after SportsCenter has tucked everyone safely into bed, the NL West continues to exist. A lot of seasons, this is a total surprise come October, when a club of unknowns suddenly shows up on the playoff schedule. The really unknowns this year will include the Rockies, the Padres, and the 2-Billion-Dollar Dodgers.
The Giants will feature another season of incredible pitching, headlined by the rail-thin, haircut-challenged Tim Lincecum. His pitching motion is less like a human and more like one of those plastic arms that you fling tennis balls for your dog with. Sadly, their hitters will look like your dog during the “fake tennis ball throw”. If the bats come alive, SF has a chance to go back to the playoffs.
The better choice in the NL West is the Arizona Diamondbacks, last year’s division champs. They have good pitching, solid hitting, a superstar in the making with OF Justin Upton, and a taste of the postseason with last year’s playoffs. And I’m not ever voting against manager Kirk Gibson.
This division is totally up for grabs. You could certainly make a case for any of the six teams to reach the postseason. Well, except for the Astros. Or the Cubs. Okay, Pirates either. But the Reds, Brewers, and Cardinals could find their way to the top of this group, and have a really gaudy record when they do it, because they each play a lot of games versus the Astros, Cubs, and Pirates.
St. Louis is going to spend its summer missing Pujols, missing LaRussa, and shining our World Series Trophy. I hope they win 40 games. My therapist says I’m doing much better on this subject.
The Brewers are going to spend the summer missing Fielder, but they still have some bats in the lineup as long as NL MVP/pharmacist/legal expert Ryan Braun continues to live a charmed life. One-time Royal Zack Greinke and Yahtzee Triple Word score extreme Yovani Gallardo will lead a solid pitching staff.
The Cincinnati Reds have several plusses and minuses, often in the same person. Joey Votto is amazing, at the plate, in the field, and suddenly in his banking account. Manager Dusty Baker makes some incredible moves, both good and bad. And starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo would like you to forget that he wore cornrows for part of one season. Ain’t gonna happen, Bronson.
This is the most intriguing division in baseball this season. The NL Central may be more unpredictable, but only in that unwatchable, “is-that-car-gonna-hit-that-guardrail?” kind of way. This division has some teams that are going to be fun to watch. Wait, whoa, didn’t mean you, Mets. Sit down. You’re a mess.
Atlanta is always a solid team, never really very far out of it. Of course, they are never really very far into it either. They should also be thanking the Red Sox for the convenient distraction; otherwise the Braves’ September collapse to miss the playoffs on the last day of the season would be getting all of the attention.
The Washington Nationals are the team that will catch everyone’s eye out of the gate and make a lot of headlines and early season “Are they for real?” stories. They aren’t, at least not this year. But by next season, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Ryan Zimmerman will be leading a good, young team into playoff contention.
On paper, the Philadelphia Phillies look like the team to beat in the NL. Just like last year, and the year before, and how did that work out? Something always seems to trip this team up in the postseason. Ryan Howard is going to have a long trek to come back from his injury and Chase Utley is so banged up he can’t even see where Ryan Howard is starting from. They still have the lights-out pitching of Hallady, Hamels, and some guy named Cliff Lee. But that hasn’t been enough yet, and that depends on all three staying healthy all season.
The newly minted Miami Marlins, with a new ballpark, a new centerpiece in SS Jose Reyes, a new ace in Mark Buehrle, and a new manager in Idiot Ozzie Guillen are going to make a huge splash this season. (You know how you call some people “Idiot” in an endearing, lovable way? Yeah, I’m not using it that way here.) 3B Hanley Ramirez is a star still on the climb, and they have fish tanks in the wall behind the batters. FISH TANKS! How are we supposed to bet against fish tanks???
PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS :
NL DIVISION WINNERS: Philly, Reds, Arizona
NL WILDCARDS: Miami, Milwaukee,
NLCS: Miami over Philly
AL DIVISION WINNERS: Texas, Detroit, Rays
AL WILDCARDS: Angels, Red Sox
ALCS: Texas over Angels
WORLD SERIES: And Miami is the latest team to break our hearts and win a World Series. It goes to 7 games. Rangers are 1 strike away from winning it when the ball careens through Bill Buckner’s legs at first, bounces off Steve Bartman in the stands, and then just past the outstretched glove of Nellie Cruz in right. We have to watch Ozzie Guillen’s post game interviews for 6 months until Opening Day 2013. But it’s okay, because Opening Day is the best moment in the baseball season.
Check the caption on the photo.