Baseball Preview- NL

It is a long fucking season and shit happens.

That’s what makes these spring forecasting exercises so difficult. One big trade and a shitty team is suddenly right in the second half mix. A superstar goes down with an injury and a contender becomes a has been. A manger change and scrubs become superstars. It is a fun intellectual mix but the caveat has to be that something’s going to change during the course of the season. Counting the 17 rounds of playoffs baseball last for 7 month and there will be surprises along the way. Having said that here is my current outlook for the National League.

NL East

This is going to be a fight. Think Ali-Frazier, Patton- Rommel, Grant-Lee, end of a short second marriage, Robison-LaMotta , Greek-Persian kind of viscous nasty fight between the two leading teams. Vile words will be hurled across the diamond, blood will be spilled and great baseball will be played. The Mets and the Nationals are two great teams and they will battle all the way to the end. If Fernandez and Stanton stay healthy all year the Marlins will win enough to play spoiler but I cant see them contending this year. The Braves and Phillies are basically cannon fodder.

  1. Nationals- Dusty Baker makes the difference and they play all the way to the end this year
  2. Mets- they won’t go down easy and Citi Filed will be rocking all year
  3. Marlins- best young pitcher, long ball hitter and coolest jerseys in the major leagues
  4. Braves- in need of biggest rebuilding project since Sherman passed through town. Years away
  5. Phillies- god young talent but not enough for this year

 

NL Central

A three way dog fight but I am going to go ahead and drink the Kool Aid. The Cubs have a young talented roster, great pitching, a Hall of fame lock manager and one of the best GMs in the game. This is the year. The Pirates will outlast the Cardinals in a war of contrition for second place but it will not be an easy task.

  1. Cubs- Goat burgers and Old Style all around. This is the year
  2. Pirates- Just a little younger and hungrier than the Cardinals
  3. Would win easily inmost divisions but this isn’t most divisions. Still one of the greatest organizations form to top to bottom in the game
  4. Brewers- might lose 100 games as they attempt to rebuild after trading away the future a few years back.
  5. Reds- team is just not that good. Could set Franchise record for losses

 

NL West

Everyone is excited about the Diamondbacks offseason moves and thinks they will win the crown this year. They won’t. San Francisco is just too loaded with pitching and a winning culture. The Dodgers always have a Kershaw  of a chance and will keep things tight among the top three. Great division of those of us on the East Coast with insomnia as it beats cooking shows and infomercials for late night entertainment value.

  1. Giants- in this environment Samaardja and Cueto both have career years
  2. Dodgers- good pitching , solid lineup ,a more mature Puig learns to win.
  3. Diamondbacks- better but weak bullpen.
  4. Padres- yet another rebuilding year after last years failed attempt by a title
  5. Rockies- a poor pitching staff in the best hitters park in baseball is problematic at best.

 

Wild cards

Mets

Pirates

NL Pennant winner- Chicago Cubs

In his epic documentary film maker Ken Burns said “Nothing in our daily life offers more of the comfort of continuity, the generational connection of belonging to a vast and complicated American family, the powerful sense of home, the freedom from time’s constraints, and the great gift of accumulated memory than does our National Pastime.” So it is form and the great game of baseball. The game is not viewed through just the wins and losses or the stats I study so intensely. When I think of baseball I think of the one and only game I attended with my father, a come from behind win in that Orioles Magic season of 1983. He died a few short weeks later and that game was one of the last times we spent together outside of the hospital.

When I think of baseball I remember taking my then infant daughter on the bus, taking the 33 to connect to the 3 to the old memorial stadium in the summer of 1984. We went to a bunch of gams that summer and I can still smell the scent of baby hair and milk breath as she sat on my lap all the way across town.  I think of games with my son and the bond we formed over the game and the team even when he was being a little teen age asshole. Today we share a love for the game and have taken in nay a game and enjoyed cold beers, good games and each other’s company. It is part of the fabric of my life form that transistor radio all the way through to my smart phone that allows me to watch all the games in the palm of my hand today. It is the magical feeling of that first view of Memorial Stadium at 6 years old to a cold beer at Spring training a few week ago.

It’s a long fucking season and shit happens. Hopefully it happens as predicted here but it will happen and another season of the game will be woven into the fabric of my life.

 

 

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