If it is it doesn't matter

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Life Begins on Opening Day

And since it does, and today is it, I figured I should start spending some time on this discussing a topic I have been following longer than I have Islam, religion, politics, or even sex. I'll try and get at least one post a week here on baseball, and shouold really start with my own predictions. Given me, I could probably fill a long post on each team, even though I haven't paid as much attention as I usually do to the off season. But I'll give you a break and just discuss the divisions.

National League East: After last year, everybody says don't bet against Atlanta winning it's 15th straight division championship. But I think the loss of Rafael Furcal, Julio Franco and most of all, Leo Mazzone as pitching coach means that my Mets have a good chance of taking the division at last. They are a little thin in starting pitching, and I could stand an upgrade at 2nd Base if Anderson Hernandez hits as badly as he has in the minors. The Phillies might move ahead of the Braves as well, but I can't see them challenging the Mets for the division. The Nationals will play better than their talent makes you expect, as usual with Frank Robinson, but the problems of not having an owner and the loss of Ayala and Lawrence will keep them out of the running. Don't be surprised if the Marlins look competitive over the first fifty games, but don't be fooled. They'll have a long way to look up to see the Nationals in 4th by the time the season ends. This time they didn't get much for their fire sale.

NL Central: The Cardinals could run away with the division again, but if Carpenter's Cy Young season proves to be a fluke they could some back to the pack. Then it will be a real dog fight. The Astros have talent, but probably not quite enough. The Pirates have great kid pitching and could sneak away with it. But my pick is the Brewers. Ned Yost is a great manager in the mold of his teacher, Bobby Cox, and gets the best out of his players. Only the most fanatical Cub fan can see them as a factor, and they might not succeed in holding off the Reds.

NL West: Another dog fight, but with real dogs. The Padres almost became the first division winner to have a losing record, and they've gotten worse this year. The Dodgers should have enough talent to take it all, but they might get a strong challenge from the Rockies. The Padres free fall might drop them below the DBacks who aren't really a challenger but might be slowly rebuilding into a good team. And while the Bonds mess might make enough noise to keep the members of baseball's Old Age Home awake -- those guys are so ancient that if I went to the clubhouse half of them would be calling me 'kid' -- but they'll need a different medicine. Lots of aspirin. Cellars are damp and not good for arthritic joints.

Let's put the American league in a separate post so I can get away and feed some very demanding cats. Yes, Poo, Sprout, I'm coming.


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