’tis Spring, and this old fart’s thoughts turn to… baseball.
Opening day is finally here, there’s a slate of games on the dish, although they’re saving the Yankees/Bluejays matchup for a Friday night on MLB instead of today. Meh.
After pleasantly surprising me last year and achieving the amazing run that brought them to within 1 game of making the World Series for the first time since 2009, the Yankees seem poised for a similar run this year.
Although Greg Bird is already off to his traditional months-long injury streak, the rest of the lineup looks very solid, and adding last year’s NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton to a batting row already loaded with the homerun producing power of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorious will mean lots and lots of offense.
Pitching got better in the second half last year once Tanaka got his act together. Hopefully that will continue, hopefully Severino will continue to grow as the ace of the staff, hopefully Sabathia will continue to shine in the twilight of his career, hopefully Montgomery will grow into a solid young starter, hopefully Betances will fix his mechanics and become more consistent, hopefully Boone will turn out to be a good manager ….. and as Benjamin Franklin said, “He who lives upon hope dies farting.”
But you never know!
Their main rivals in the division, as God intended, will be a strengthened Red Sox lineup. Best rivalry in all of sports, no contest.
So I guess it’s time for some predictions. Since I’m clearly biased, I see the Yankees winning the AL East over the Sox, who ought to make a wild card spot. I like the Indians in the Central, with the Twins giving them some grief, but not much else. I think the Astros will repeat in the west, with a strengthened but not-quite-balanced Angels making the other wild card.
I’d go with the Nationals in the NL East by default. There’s no one else really challenging them there for it. The Mets run hot and cold, the Braves are rebuilding and have some good rookies and may surprise this year, but I don’t think taking the division will be one of those surprises. Miami dismantled itself, and the Phillies just blow. The NL Central might be the most competitive division of all. You’d think the Cubs would repeat despite the changes in personnel, but St Louis always manages to be competitive and made some nice additions, Milwaukee will be in there, and maybe even the Reds can surprise. The once strong Pirates are really the only team you can count out. I’ll go with the Cards winning it by a hair over a wild card Cubs, in what’s really a roll of the dice. In the west, the Dodgers look poised to repeat, with the Rockies and Diamondbacks breathing down their necks, either of which could make the other wild card. That’ll be another good divisional race, especially since I don’t see LA going on the sort of win streak they managed last summer again this year. It & Alex Wood’s won-loss record felt like a fluke at the time, and still feels even more like one in retrospect. I’d like to think Aaron Judge’s post-All Star game batting slump was also a fluke. We shall see.
Making post-season predictions at this point is stupid. There will be trades & the like, late summer, that will have an enormous effect on the post season, i.e. Justin Verlander going to the Astros.
Welcome back, baseball. You’ll make a nice addition to the Final 4 this weekend.