Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Baseball 2011

This article from Mike Bauman at pretty much says it all.  You can have your Times Square and so on.  Others have diferent ideas of a "new year" (religious and otherwise).

For me, there's an end to my year with the Super Bowl (let's not revisit it).  There's a sad wasteland known as "February and March."  But tomorrow, my year begins anew.  Tomorrow, whether we get snow or not, somewhere on my TV (or radio, or really doesn't matter), baseball will be played.  The games will count.

I've said too many times that football (yes, the NFL) is America's Game.  It's become the National Passion.  Yet baseball - always baseball - is the National Pastime.  There are reasons why baseball is such a part of our psyche.  It's been woven through our history since not very long after we signed that little old document in 1776.  There is enough proof to indicate that "town ball" was being played in the early 19th Century, and on September 10, 1845, a newspaper account in the New York Morning News discusses "base ball."  It wasn't long before we were hooked as a nation.

We can't forget that, of course, bad things happened.  Gambling (1919 and other cases before and after right up to Pete Rose), drugs (before steroids it was cocaine, "greenies" and so on), lack of interest (ratings were down for 2010), and of course the color line - shameful as it was, and baseball is more than happy to hammer it home.  Still no other sport rides through the very fabric of Americana like baseball - for right or wrong.
Opening Day in Yankee Stadium, April 18, 1923
There is something so right about Opening Day.  Sure the weather isn't going to be good but when that first pitch is thrown (and it should be in Cincinnati, as it always USED to be, but that's for Bud Selig's conscience to deal with), it feels like warmer days are ahead.  As always, there's renewed hope, and I need it, considering how dead I felt after last year's Yankees team crashed and burned.

Opening Day, 2010 - the New Stadium (NY Daily News)
Yeah yeah yeah, there's plenty of skepticism about baseball, for many of the reasons above.  The biggest worry is probably the lack of interest/"the game is boring" thing.  God forbid we might sit down and actually use our brains to watch a game ("that's that lump three feet above your ass" - Tom Hanks).  I love thinking about baseball.  I love wondering what's coming next - managing away like I'm Miller Huggins or something.  Fastball?  Slider?  What?  Pull hitter?  Power or average?  What should be done with the infield?  Outfield shited around?  At these moments, I don't care a wit about WHIP or WAR or OPS.  I probably care about how a player performs in a given spot, but not to the "Nth."

Let's just play ball!
OK, since you haven't asked, here is what won't happen in 2010.  That's right, some predictions!

I refuse, by the way, to go with conentional thinking.  I will not select a Red Sox/Phillies World Series.  It's too easy and I think we should all hope it doesn't happen.  So...

American League East: Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles.  The Yankees are a second place team right best.  The Rays have the best rotation.  The Blue Jays are really good and the Orioles are getting close.  So hello to the American League bEast.  This will be about survival.

AL Central: White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Indians, Royals.  I'm going with the White Sox, and I really don't know why.  Why do I pick against the Twins, just to have them screw me every time?  And I'm popping the Indians out of last place just for the sake of Tim Parry.  I'd like to see Chief Wahoo have a better year (OK, maybe I'd like Tim to have a good year as well, so long as he leaves the Yankees bashing alone).

AL West: Angels, Rangers, A's, Mariners.  The M's have King Felix.  And?  Yeah, Ichiro...OK.  And?  The Angels have Mike Sciosia - best manager in the game.  The Rangers were a nice story, but last I checked, Cliff Lee is somewhere else.  The A's...feh.

Wild Card: Yankees (I have to be optimistic, right?)

National League East: Phillies (duh), Braves, Marlins, Mets, Nationals.  Yes, I put the Mets in fourth.  I've learned...the opposite normally happens.  In reality, I probably expect them to be in last place.  The Nationals aren't bad, and deserve a better pick, but I need to see more.  I liked the Braves last year.  Now I want to see what they can do in the "post-Bobby Cox" era.  The Marlins?  They could flip flop with the Mets and Nats.

NL Central: Reds, Brewers, Cubs, Cardinals, Astros, Pirates.  I like Joey Votto.  I like this Reds team.  Then again, I think this division could be a total dog fight, open to anyone except the Astros and Pirates.  The Cubs just don't seem to get it.  The Cardinals?  Well, yeah.  They're still here.  What will Albert be like, and can the pitching hold up?

NL West: The Don Mattingly Division!  Yeah, but...this division is also wide open.  Rockies, Padres, Giants, Dodgers, Diamondbacks.  The Rockies have been lingering for a while.  The Padres opened a lot of eyes last year.  The Giants will take a step back (already there are concerns about Brian Wilson's health).  The Dodgers have Vin Scully, and that's about it.  He's a broadcaster, and he's 83.

Wild Card: Brewers (why not?)

Thus we get the Red Sox and the White Sox in the first round, with Boston advancing...while the Angels will surpass the Yankees (again).  The Red Sox will finish off the Angels.

In the National League, the Phillies will top the Brewers, while the Rockies will finish off the Reds.  And I believe - really, I'm trying folks, that the Rockies will get by the Phillies.

It's 2007 all over...Rockies/Red Sox.  This time, I hope, there's a different finish.  I'm trying here - I swear!

Rockies in 2011!

I'm not going to worry about the awards.  Maybe Cliff Lee wins the Cy Young (I can only hope he goes under .500).  Maybe Alex Rodriguez has an MVP year.  Who knows?

Again, let's just PLAY BALL!

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