I love this time of year. There’s the NCAA Tournament, the Masters, the NBA & NHL playoff races, and most importantly Opening Day. (For the purposes of avoiding confusion, we will consider Opening Day to be next week and ignore the games played in Japan this week…because it’s just weird to be 2 games into the season and then play 5 more Spring Training games). Anyway… everyone who knows me is well aware of the fact that I am a huge sports fan and I love them all, but baseball has always been my first love. My colleagues at work can attest to the fact that the only time they see me in a tie at work is the first day of Spring Training where I break out one of my various baseball ties. I say all that simply to reinforce how much I enjoy the season and writing about baseball in general…and it’s here again!
But alas… I realize that I am not in the majority in this country so I’ll try to spice this year’s baseball preview up. This year the National League will be broken down into layman’s terms by comparing them to Movie characters or actors. The American League will be made more palatable by comparing them to Television characters. Now, an additional acknowledgement is that I know that if you haven’t watched the shows or movies then this won’t help you at all either, but what do you do?! I’ll just hope that a butterfly will flap its wings in Singapore and our gas prices will go down far enough to let you pick these all up on Netflix.
Now to avoid completely boring you, I will be splitting up the Annual Baseball Preview into two columns. Part 1 will contain the National League preview and a question for the masses. Keep watching later this week for the A.L. preview and playoff predictions. Now let’s get to it.
The Question of the Month: Historically there are many players that do well in Spring Training but then struggle when they return to their colder weather hometowns. Since virtually the entire country is experiencing record warmth is it conceivable that there will be fewer hitters getting off to slow starts? And will that lead to an increase in offensive production for the season?
And now to the picks…
N.L. East (Superman Division) – Each member of this division will be compared to an actor that has played the role of Superman in movies (or on T.V. since I didn’t have quite enough from movies…)
1. Philadelphia Phillies (92-70) – Christopher Reeve
2. Washington Nationals (90-72) – Tom Welling
3. Atlanta Braves (85-77) – Henry Cavill
4. Miami Marlins (82-80) – Dean Cain
5. New York Mets (75-87) – Brandon Routh
The Phillies are the original Superman and are really going to be hard to top. The Nats are the younger version (i.e. Smallville) that are making a leap into the forefront this year. The Braves are hoping that their youth can reboot a run of playoff appearances (a la the Man of Steel – 2013) akin to the 90’s. The Marlins are better, but I have them 10 games better than last year and that still only moves them up to 4th. And the Mets… wow… it’s not that the talent doesn’t exist, it’s just that the writers apparently forgot what Superman (or baseball) is supposed to be like.
N.L. Central (Hunger Games Division) – Each member of this division will be compared to a character from The Hunger Games that participated in the Games at some point.
1. St. Louis Cardinals (88-74) – Katniss
2. Cincinnati Reds (87-75) – Cato
3. Milwaukee Brewers (86-76) – Peeta
4. Pittsburgh Pirates (70-92) – Rue
5. Chicago Cubs (65-97) – Haymitch
6. Houston Astros (57-105) – Marvel
This is the final year of this division of 6, and it kind of looks like this is a group of teenagers in a street fight to try to stand alone atop the division when the final cannon sounds. The Cardinals had a tumultuous offseason, but when the dust settled they still have strong starting pitching and a middle of the lineup with Holliday, Beltran, Berkman, & Freese. They’ll stay alive until their weapons of choice are ready and that will take them home. The Reds have brute force and will power their way to one step short of the top. The Brewers have the ability to stay alive and make it a race, but they could really use some help if they want to make it to the end. The Pirates are the cute team that we’d all love to see make it, but it just isn’t meant to be. The Cubs are the former champ that is currently staggering and just trying to get his feet back under himself. And the Astros are completely forgettable in their final year before they change districts.
N.L. West (Batman Division) – Each member of this division will be compared to an actor that has played the part of the Caped Crusader with differing degrees of success.
1. San Francisco Giants (90-72) – Christian Bale
2. Arizona Diamondbacks (88-74) – Adam West
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (83-79) – Michael Keaton
4. Colorado Rockies (79-83) – George Clooney
5. San Diego Padres (70-92) – Val Kilmer
Last year the Diamondbacks went from Dark Horse to Dark Knight and no one saw it coming. This year they will go SOCK and POW up to number 2, but the Giants will be the Dark Knight that Rises to the top. (Yes, I’m laying it on thick). The Dodgers are living the dream now that the McCourt Era is over so they just can’t shake that Keaton-esque grin off their faces and they can begin the road to recovery. The other two teams are only good at one aspect of their game just like Clooney was only good as Bruce and Kilmer was only good in the suit.
….to be continued…