That Other League
Okay, so I've been a National League fan since I was a kid, and Claire, my 'other mother,' had St. Jude backing up the infield for the Brooklyn Dodgers. (I wasn't a Dodger fan. Loving underdogs, I was a Pirates fan, which was fine until the original Mets came along. People who weren't born then 'remember' the 62 Mets. I remember the 63 as well, when Tim Harkness and Larry Burrright were supposed to anchor the right side of the infield and wound up hitting about .415 combined, and couldn't field either, despite their reps.)
And I STILL hate the Designated Hitter!
But there should be some good races in that league too.
AL East: I've been expecting the Yanks to get old all at once the way they did in the late 60s, but something tells me it won't happen this year. their pitching is fragile, Sheffield is vulnerable to the steroid investigation, and Damon is no Bernie (in his prime) in center. But the Red Sox have also dropped off, and i think it will be a battle between the Yankees and Blue Jays. I'll go Blue Jays, BUT, if it comes down to the last series of the year, with them playing each other, you have to pick the Yanks. That's the type of game they can always win. Boston should be a solid third, though both other teams are likely to be competitive, Tampa Bay on the strength of some very good young talent -- watch out for them next year if they spend money for pitching -- and Baltimore on the strength of Mazzone as pitching coach. I wouldn't be surprised to see either of them slip into 3rd, sorry Boston.
AL Central: The division winner and the Wild Card should come from the White Sox and the Indians. I think Indian hitting will nudge out White Sox pitching, but two great managers will be jockeys spurring their horses on to a close finish. Minnesota is falling off, and unless Mauer and Morneau are even beter than their reviews, they shouldn't be a factor -despite Johan Santana, who may be the best pitcher in baseball, certainly the one I'd want in one important game. Detroit is slowly improving, but shouldn't challenge Minnesota for third. And, at the end of the season, Kansas City should have played close to 162 games (if you can't say anthing nice...).
AL West: Always the hardest division to call. Every year there is one team out of it (the Mariners this year) and the other three are standing around to see which one lighting will strike this year. And it never seems to be a matter of judgement, just pure luck. I think this might be the Rangers year. They don't have enough pitching -- but they never do. Their outfield will shuttle back and forth to the disabled list -- it always does. But with Ian Kinsler (maybe Rookie of the Year) replacing Soriano, this might be one of the greatest infields ever, hitting and fielding. The Athletics have pitching -- they always do, not enough hitting -- as usual, and could explode or implode. Mike Scioscia should keep the Angels from imploding (have you notice I think managers are important?) but might not win this years spin of the roulete wheel.
I'll make some predictions on individual awards sometime during the week, but the game is starting -- or a tornado is, the weather is VERY iffy.