Saturday, April 01, 2006

My baseball picks

Monday for me will be the greatest sports day of the year. My UCLA Bruins are in the NCAA Championship Game and it’s the Opening Day of Major League Baseball. Even though it’s supposed to pour in Los Angeles and there will be six angry letters to the LA Times saying “why isn’t there a dome over Dodger Stadium?” I can’t wait. (There will also be one moronic article by a certain sports columnist saying, “Yeah, UCLA is winning but they’re not flashy enough”.) As I hold my breath for Monday night, I turn to my first love – baseball.

Is there anything better than the unbridled optimism of Opening Day? Sure, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Devil Rays have no shot. From the first pitch they’re just playing out the string. But most other teams do have a chance. The Colorado Rockies could hang in there until May.

This is the time of year when all baseball fans make their predictions. Here are mine. But these are not the usual. Anyone can predict the Yankees and Braves and Cardinals. I’ll give you my longshot picks. A couple of years ago if you had put down a hundred bucks in Vegas for the Florida Marlins to win the World Series you would have made a LOT of money. You’d have done okay picking a Fall Classic of the White Sox and Astros last season, too. Considering the odds, it seems to me a better bet to take a shot at some under the radar teams that might surprise instead of the Yankees where the payoff is so small.

So here are my division winner picks for 2006.

NLW – Giants
NLC -- Houston
NLE -- Phillies

ALW – Rangers
ALC – Indians
ALE – Blue Jays.

Laugh now. Talk to me in October.

PLAY BALL!!!!

GO BRUINS!!!!

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

First time caller here:

Just wanted to mention that I spotted an Albuquerque Isotopes t-shirt at the temple bar. I'm not even sure that they spelled the city right.

Paul Duca said...

I understand the city is now officially spelled "AlbU..." rather than "AlbE..."

Webs said...

The Giants just plain stink. The outfield won't last the season as senility sets in, and then Finley will join the others in the home. They don't have an average fisrt-baseman. Todd Greene is the fresh young face. Jason Schmidt is the only decent pitcher on the team. NL West goes to the Padres, the best of a bad lot, but the Dodgers might slip in.

Houston has the hitting, but needs Clemens to squeak into the playoffs. Chicago needs Prior and Woods. Milwaukee is a Dark horse. St Louis will struggle to dominate ther division. The Cardinals are in decline. I'm going to pick the Cubs for the NL Central.

The NL East is another tight one. Philly has the best team on the field, but has no bench, although Dellucci will help. The Philly starters are young and talented. The Braves are also solid. There's no hole to be seen. The Mets need a middle infield that can contribute more than speed, and the back of the rotation is shoddy, and would be even with Heilman starting. I'll go with the Braves.

In the AL, the Jays are better, but they're not better enough to top both the Yanks and Sox. The two traditional powers will spend another summer banging heads. Damon and Millar are great characters, but their skills are replaceable. The Yanks have Chacon in the rotation. I'll take the Red Sox.

The AL Central is stacked. You could pick any of the big three (Cleveland, Minnesota, Chicago) and make a case. I'll go with the White Sox on a gut feeling that Thome will have a big year. I like their pitching more than the Indians, too.

The AL West is another close one. I have to go with the A's. THey nearly took the division last year, and they improved at all weak points for this year. Offensively, they don't have room for Bobby Kielty. Pitching-wise, they led the league in ERA last year. They... could... go... all... the... way!

JOHN LEADER said...

Actually Major League Baseball "opening day" is today, Sunday, April 2. First time in a long time that opening day and the last day of Spring Training (for the Dodgers & Angels) coincide.
Go Bruins. Go Dodgers!

Ken Levine said...

webs,

Great analysis but remember -- I'm picking longshots. The way I think the divisions should pan out is:

NLW-Dodgers
NLC -Cardinals
NLE -Braves

ALW -Angels
ALC - White Sox
ALE - Yankees

But (a) those front running prediction rarely all pan out. There are always surprises, and (b) it's more fun picking longshots.

As a Dodger fan I soo hope you're right about the Giants but they have some good young pitching coming up. I'll bet they're better than you think.

Ken Levine said...

I consider Opening Day to be a Jewish holiday so it really begins the night before.

And there's something wrong when Cincinnati doesn't play the first game of the new season.

1031 said...

For real long shots, you should have the Brewers winning the NL Central. They actually made it to .500 last year. Nowhere to go but up.

And the Pirates aren't that lousy. If their pitchers stay healthy, I think they have a decent chance to finish 4th, or even 3rd, in the division.

Anyway, I, too, cannot wait for the start of the season. Opening Day is the real beginning of the new year.

Go Cardinals.

poor man said...

Whatever the case, thank you for choosing the Astros for the NL Central. I grew up in Houston, and last year was surprising (NL Champs) and not so surprising (getting swept). In 2006 false hope is still hope.

Houston sports teams have a tendency to choke when it matters most. The exceptions are the 94 & 95 Rockets (thank you, Michael Jordan) and the Texans...whom I don't consider to be a real team yet.

Apologies to Comets fans. They came after my time.

Anonymous said...

The world series title is coming back to Canada.
May not be the Stanley Cup, but at least T.O. will win something...

- Allen

xiane said...

My fearless predictions:

AL EAST
New York - Not good value for money, but spend enough...
Boston - Not quite as good this year, but great young talent pick ups
Tampa - All those #1 picks start playing
Toronto - Halladay and Burnett spend season on DL
Baltimore - Is there a plan here? if so, what is it?

AL Central
Cleveland - Amazing offense, good pitching, a better team than Chicago last year but choked
CWS - Won't be as lucky with pitching, D and almost no injuries again
Detroit - Tigers have a pulse again, watch Granderson, Verlander and Zumaya
Minnesota - Too cheap to win despite excellent farm system.
.
.
.
KC - Can we replace them with the Cuban or Korean national team, like, yesterday? MLB should embrace the UK soccer notion of relegation - welcome to AAAA KC!

AL West
Oakland - Incredible pitching depth, snazzy defense
Los Angeles de Los Angeles de Anaheim de California - Team of 07 will be much better.
Texas - Great offense, shaky pitching, sound familiar?
Seattle - King Felix and Ichiro! aren't enough.

WC - Angels

NL East

Atlanta - Until someone dethrones them Im tired of hearing about the Phillies, Mets etc.
Phillies - Stubbornly 2nd place.
New York - Good talent, sort of fragile.
Washington - Bad, really bad, but not as bad as...
Florida - Quick, name 5 Marlins!

NL Central

St. Louis - Rolen, Pujols, Edmonds + Pitching is enough - again.
Houston - Clemens returns, Oswalt the best ace no one knows. Offense dooms them again, just like 05.
Milwaukee - Great young talent, ROY Fielder belts 30+
Chicago - Without Wood, Prior, Zambrano and Lee can't do it all.
Pittsburgh - Poor Jason Bay.

NL West (Gack!)

LA Dodgers - Fewer injuries, farm system starts up, best of a weak bunch.
SF - Bonds gets 500 ABs, young pitchers perform, creaky old guys play ok
San Diego Padres - Can't keep their team on the field long enough to win. Watch out for Adrian Gonzalez man, just watch out.
Arizona - Getting better fast.
Colorado - Ugh. What are they good at? Anything?

WC - Astros, again, as Phillies can't get out of their own way, again.

Anonymous said...

My poor poor Buco's. Year 16 of a 5 year plan...

ted

Anonymous said...

A's over the Braves in six.

Unlike player checks amassed from Billy Beane's "Moneyball" approach, you can take this one to the bank (and not be laughed at).

Surprise team: the Twinkies.