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Monday, April 02, 2007

Bold Predictions - Opening Day

It's the cure for what ails you. Whether it's a long winter of depression, the stress of tax season, or recent heartbreak, baseball is the cure. And opening day baseball, especially. If I got chills after every Vladimir Guerrero RBI double, I'd be spending all summer under a blanket. But I get 'em on opening day.

There's a lot to look forward to this season. Frank Thomas, Jim Thome, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and Gary Sheffield are all within striking distance of 500 HRs. Sammy Sosa's looking for 600. And Barry Bonds, well, he may not get to 800 this season, but I bet there'll still be some fanfare following him. Randy Johnson needs 20 wins for 300. Tom Glavine needs 10. Craig Biggio needs 70 hits for 3000. Bonds need 159 (he hasn't had that many in a season since 1998).

Besides the statistical milestones, we could be opening one of the most competitive seasons since the invention of the wild card. Revenue sharing, unparalled revenue streams, and increasingly innovative general managers have contributed to creating that exciting culture of "competitive balance" that Bud Selig fantasized about while his Milwaukee Brewers were suffering a dozen straight losing seasons at the end of his tenure as owner. This year the Brewers are among the popular choices to win the NL Central, but then, so are the Cardinals, the Cubs, the Astros, and the Reds. And, I would argue at least, making an argument for the youthful Pirates is not much harder. Over at ESPN, 22 of 30 MLB teams got at least one sucker to pick them for a postseason berth from their panel of 18 experts. At USAToday even the Rockies and the Devil Rays got some support. Every division has to be considered at least a three horse race, and I expect to see some which will have four or more teams neck and neck into the stretch. It makes predictions difficult, but I'll make some anyway.

NL East:
1. Mets
2. Phillies
3. Marlins
4. Braves
5. Nationals

NL Central:
1. Cubs
2. Brewers
3. Cardinals
4. Pirates
5. Reds
6. Astros

NL West:

1. Dodgers
2. Giants (WC)
3. Padres
4. Diamondbacks
5. Rockies

AL East:
1. Red Sox
2. Blue Jays
3. Yankees
4. Devil Rays
5. Orioles

AL Central:
1. Tigers
2. Indians (WC)
3. White Sox
4. Twins
5. Royals

AL West:

1. Angels
2. Athletics
3. Mariners
4. Rangers

Division Series:
Dodgers over Mets
Giants over Cubs

Tigers over Angels
Red Sox over Indians

Championship Series:
Dodgers over Giants
Tigers over Red Sox

World Series:
Tigers over Dodgers

NL MVP - Derrek Lee
NL Cy Young - Barry Zito
NL ROY - Ryan Braun
NL Manager - Bruce Bochy

AL MVP - David Ortiz
AL Cy Young - C. C. Sabathia
AL ROY - Elijah Dukes
AL Manager - Jim Leyland