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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I fucking love this game.
Baseball has always has been a big part of my life. From the time I was about six years old I have loved the game and the Baltimore Orioles. Baseball was just part of everyday life. When it was want we played form the moment we got out of the house until we came in at the end of the day when we could hear the chorus of Moms yelling for individual kids. Looking back it must have sounded like the evening bark scene in 1010 Dalmatians as one by one each mom hollered for kid to get in the house. We played all day, wiffle ball or baseball, stopping only to go to whoever’s house was closest for a hunk of bologna on white bread and some Kool Aid or store brand colas. I had a transistor radio with one of the old plastic white earbuds and if the orioles were playing I was listening to Boog, Brooks and the gang battle the forces of evil. When the adults were done with the paper I would read all the box scores to see what was going on around the league. I loved the game then and I still do today.
Each year I post my expectations for the year ahead and truth be told we have done pretty well with it over the years. I use a bit of math, a bit of common sense and some gut feelings based on decades of watching and studying the game. My results are far from perfect but they don’t entirely suck either. So without further ado here this years expectations and predictions.
AL East- Every bid has fallen in love with allegedly revitalized Boston Red Sox. While adding Kimbrell and Price make them a better team it doesn’t make them a great team. The Blue Jays are the consensus pick and while it is hard to argue against them I am going to anyway. Tampa bay has a fantastic rotation with four of the best your pitchers in baseball. Kiermaeir is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game and they have dependable if not spectacular bats in Longoria and Morrison. Pitching wins titles and Tamp will win the division. When you starting pitchers can keep you in every game you are going to pick up your share of close games and that is usually the secret to the AL East.
AL Central- I want to pick the White Sox but the Adam LaRoche incident has created some locker room issues. They have the pitching and some great bats but everything would have to gel perfectly and Ventura may have to work on rebuilding the locker room. Detroit is getting too damn old to get it done although at times the offense will give pitchers nightmares and a good case of the shits. I am one to hold a grudge and have not forgiven the Kansas City Fucking Royals for the playoff series against Baltimore two years ago but they a very good baseball team and my pick to win the division.
Al West- most are picking Texas and it is a very good ball club. I think the younger across the board Astros may have the core of a great team and will take the divisions. The Angel have Mike Trout but the rotation will not get them through the year. A couple of stars won’t get it done when the rest of the team struggle to be average. Oakland is just not all that good and Billy Beane needs another draft or two to get the club back on track. Seattle will flirt with the division lead at times but won’t be able to catch Texas and Houston late in the year.
1-Astros- young, aggressive, good pitching. Hard to beat that mix
2-Rangers- They will be in the mix all year and if the Astros should falter they have a decent shot at taking the title
3-Mariners- just not enough to compete of the division win
4-Angels – must watch team just to see trout play but not enough across the board to be a force.
Wild cards- Texas and Toronto
Al Pennant – Houston Astros
National League up next
As over a billion people begin to celebrate Christmas, I’d like to go over a few facts: Christ was probably not born in late December. There is no biblical evidence of such and early Christians never celebrated such a holiday. This time of the year mark’s the winter solstice, a day celebrated by countless cultures for thousands of years, going all the way back to the days of Stonehenge, predating all modern religions. Christmas is most likely an appropriation of the Roman holiday of Saturnalia. A lot of the traditions of Christmas, like the tree or the yule log, originate from Pagan practices in Europe. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25 with a decorated tree and gift giving.
Most of the time I listen to jazz these days but I also still listen to a lot of country. Not so much the new stuff but the good old boys and outlaws like Waylon, Willie, Jerry Jeff and others. Those guys played what they wanted , lived as they chose and did not give two shits what anyone thought of either. They were cowboy poets with a bottle of whiskey, a bag of pot, a guitar , a carton of Marlboro reds and hundreds of miles of open road ahead. Even today when I listen to these songs I hear a line and think “man that’s some deep fucking shit right there.” It has always seemed to me that Willie Nelson got off more of those deep shit lines that anyone else. The guy is just an incredible song writer and how do you not like a guy who thumbs his nose at the IRS and pays them back by touring around the country in a big ass bus with a few pounds of weed aboard? Today I decided to take a deeper look at the Philosophy of Willie.
When I’d go I’ve been here long enough, So you’ll sing and tell more jokes and dance and stuff, Just keep the music playin’. That’ll be a good goodbye, Roll me up and smoke me when I die.
And there is much of the philosophy of our church in a song lyric. We are here as long as we are here and we should enjoy the ride more than we do. Most religions celebrate denying pleasures while you are here in favor of hoping for something better after. I hope there is something better after just like everyone else that ever drew a breath and had to face the fact that someday they wouldn’t but I don’ t think that means I should deny myself the pleasure and beauty that is here, in front of us, right now.
Don’t cry at my funeral (40 or 50 years from now). Laugh, and tell stories. Talk about the night Marcus and I stole his car back from the illegals his ex sold it to out of spite. Tell the ditch story. Remember all the parties, excursions and good times. Talk about nights in Irish dives on the Upper East Side and along Rush Street. Remember the misadventures of the racetrack trips to Lexington and skin head bars in Louisville. Talk about baseball and books. Don’t cry for me. I was here and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
As many of my friends can attest, for years I’ve referred to Adam Levine of Maroon 5 as “the most annoying Jew ever.” I’ve recently had to revise that stance – not because I finally heard a song of his that I liked – but because I learned only his father is Jewish. Technically this makes him a non-Jew, though at least now he doesn’t have to worry about his tattoos keeping him out of a Jewish cemetery. Whenever his whiny high-pitched voice comes on the radio the thought that goes through my head is “god I hate this song.”