MLB Opening Day is the best day of the year. The Fourth of July, Christmas, and the Super Bowl all have nothing on Opening Day. On the first day of the season, every baseball city in America has a legitimate chance to set course on a path towards the World Series (well everyone except those who root for the Cubs). Look at the champions over the last 10 years in the MLB and tell me if you would’ve correctly predicted: St. Louis, San Francisco, NY Yankees, Philly, Boston, St. Louis, Chicago White Sox, Boston, Florida, Anaheim, Arizona. Barring the normal Yankee dominance and a stint in their time as a ‘roided up Red Sox team, all those teams listed were not expected to win the whole thing on the first day of the season.
As a kid, I waited nervously for opening day. I checked spring training box scores and standings each morning in the LA Times. Now, as an adult (albeit a fairly irresponsible one), I feverishly read everything on the Internet about the upcoming summer of lazy days and double plays.
Everyone who knows anything about baseball can tell you the Dodgers are going to be a shitty team this year. We have the worst infield in the League and we still haven’t ensured that Frank McCourt is going to be out of lives forever (seriously, he still owns the parking lot/land in joint venture with Magic). So even though KOBEshigawa went through the trouble of doing a full season preview
on the boys in the blue, I don’t see the point in guessing exactly how many players on our starting 9 will be hitting under .250. Instead, I would like to spend my time here with thegreatmambino
making reckless predictions about the upcoming season that you will not get anywhere else…
Prediction 1: The Marlins AND the Pirates will WIN a playoff series
The Miami Marlins have been making a name for themselves this offseason. They no longer have to play in their cavernous hole of a stadium, and somehow they landed the craziest manager in baseball. Add that to a lineup that now has speedy (yet fragile) Jose Reyes, a rotation that boasts Josh Johnson (not crazy), Mark Buerhle (kinda redneck crazy), and Carlos Zambrano (batshit crazy), and you have a recipe for dominance. Granted, success in Miami will only come if this witches brew of talent can gel, but with the powerhouses in the East set to have down years (looking at you Braves and Phillies), a hot Ozzie-led squad will eek out a playoff series win this fall.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are finally going to do it this year. I live with a die-hard fan of the losingest team in baseball over the last 25 years and he has assured me that this season is the one! With the expanded playoffs and a Central that no longer has a Pujols or a Prince, the Pirates will finally put it all together and make it into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The playoff series they win… that first game to get into their series with Miami.
Prediction 2: This is the last season without a DH in the NL
The MLB has been run by a bunch of drunks for decades. Each league used to have power beyond anything you can imagine in any other professional sport. So much so that one league plays by entirely different lineup rules. This has been allowed to continue for decades for no apparent reason other than the fact that the AL prefers winning a lot, and the NL has cited tradition/purity in the game. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the DH, but with the new way the MLB has set up the schedule for 2012, the DH has to go. Currently, almost every single baseball league in the world uses a DH (all minor leagues, Japan, Latin leagues etc.).
Teams are soon going to be playing interleague games all season long and the tactical disadvantage of not having a Designated Hitter on the roster full time is going to cost an NL team a slot in the playoffs. I am going to hate every second of it, but by 2013, both leagues will cease to allow us the pleasure of watching the pitcher hit.
Prediction 3: Ryan Braun is going to get caught again
The roided up MVP-on-a-technicality named Ryan Braun is an idiot. He was a role model to so many of us little guys (see-Jewish athletes) until he tested positive for synthetic testosterone. Well guess what, he’s going to test positive again this year. I know you’re thinking. “There’s no way that guy is stupid enough to cheat again,” but what you don’t remember is that this guy took synthetic testosterone in the first place. Why wasn’t he taking HGH, a substance that can only be tested through ones blood? If you are a major leaguer and you want to bulk up, you will find a way, and not get caught. Ryan Braun not only cheats, he does so in a reckless manner, and he will do it again this year.
Prediction 4: Jayson Werth still sucks
Every pre-season preview I have seen has predicted that Jayson Werth will find his swing and return to grace in DC. What people don’t realize is that Werth is a career .264 hitter. His stats are thrown off because of three seasons being protected by the bats in the Phillies lineup (.298, .273, .268, .296) and he was overvalued in a free agent market that was weak on outfielders. I do not think its possible for Werth to hit worse than he did last season (.232, 20 HR, 58 RBIS), but I also don’t think he will hit higher than .245 with less than 65 RBIS making him the most expensive waste of space in RF in the majors.
Now these predictions are clearly bold and mostly reckless. I won’t be surprised if none of them come true. But rest assured, I will let everyone and anyone know I called it if any of these things actually happen.
Here’s to a 2012 baseball season, and to Opening Day, the greatest day of the year.