Anyone who truly knows me can tell you the following two things are true.
The first is that I love me some basketball. It’s my favorite sport in the world. It’s a game that I believe is the greatest in the world because of its reliance upon teamwork and effort – two traits that I love in the world of sports.
But the second is that aside from basketball, baseball has an incredibly soft spot in my heart – especially the pro game.
There’s nothing like that wooden crack of a bat. It’s just such a sweet sound. Unless, of course, that smack comes when your favorite team’s ace pitcher is on the mound.
Then, it’s the sound of sheer terror – thus the absolute beauty of the game.
The 2012 MLB season opened this week and this is a season that is surely going to be one of the best in recent years.
Parity has overtaken the sport in recent seasons and close to 10 teams could legitimately make claims to be the best team in baseball once the smoke clears and the dust settles on a world champion.
With that said, here are 10 predictions I have for the new season.
Before you place the mortgage on my musings, please note that last week’s column was about how my predictions always go bad.
The Official Casey’s Corner Crystal Ball Locks
1. The Cubs will not win the World Series – This is my third-straight season doing this column. And for the third-straight season, I will open by saying that the loveable losers will remain losers in the new season. Sure, the ship is headed in the right direction with Theo Epstein in charge, but there’s no way Chicago wins the World Series in ’12.
2. The Nationals will be a major pain in the neck – The Nats won’t challenge for the pennant. Heck, they probably won’t even be a contender for the NL East. But as a Braves fan, I can safely proclaim that I don’t want to face those guys more than a dozen times on the season.
3. The Red Sox will have trouble getting outs – ESPN likes to tell me that the Red Sox are the greatest team since the Sandlot boys. But I really don’t see the picture they see. The Sox’s pitching just doesn’t wow me. Sure, I like Lester and Beckett, but does anyone really like Clay Buckholz, Felix Doubront or Daniel Bard? Heck, I drafted Bard in my fantasy league (of which I am the defending champion, no matter what my co-employee Eric Besson says) and I did so thinking he was a reliever. Add that to an aging lineup and a closer out until the All-Star break, and we have a bad recipe.
4. The Dodgers have a chance to win the West – The Dodgers have a talented roster. Any team with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw is a team that should be making waves. But with turmoil surrounding the organization, the Dodgers have crashed and burned in recent years and have truly become a serious laughing stock. But with Magic Johnson in the team’s future, I see hope within that organization. I wouldn’t be surprised if they played well and made a run to challenge the competition in the NL West. Does anyone really think the Diamondbacks are untouchable as the defending champion? Yeah, I don’t either.
5. Houston Astros might be historically bad – I know a lot of people in this area casually root for the Astros, because they are “home team.” I have news for those of you bitten by the Astros’ bug – it’s going to be a very long season. J.D. Martinez, Jordan Schafer, Brian Bogusevic, Jason Castros and Jose Altuve will all be everyday starters on a team anchored by names like Kyle Weiland, Lucas Harrell and Bud Norris in the rotation. If you can’t see 52-110 in that mathematical equation, you mustn’t have been a good algebra student in high school.
6. Tigers will roar in ’12 – The Detroit Tigers will be beasts in the AL Central. Heck, if they do not win their division, I will be incredibly shocked. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do one better and won the division by a dozen or so games. In a division full of Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins, who will stop a lineup of Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila? The answer to that is no one. The Tigers will roll and this race will be finished by mid-August.
7. Manny will not finish the season with the Oakland A’s – Why would anyone want Manny Ramirez these days? The guy is old, slow and a clubhouse cancer. Yep, that surely sounds like the guy I want hitting cleanup for my team. But despite the obvious threat to rip a clubhouse into pieces and his looming 50-game suspension (because he also is a multiple-time cheater), the A’s gave Manny another shot. Just like he’s done with all 20 of his second chances in his career, Ramirez will squander this one and the A’s will surely release the slugger long before the season comes to an end.
8. The Angels will win the American League – Yeah, I’m sipping the Kool-Aid – I’m all aboard the Angels’ bandwagon. Any team with Albert Pujols thumping in the middle of the lineup is nice. But what’s even nicer is the fact that the Angels’ rotation is so loaded that Ervin Santana will be their No. 4 pitcher. That’s the same Ervin Santana who posted just a 3.38 ERA in 228 innings last season. Los Angeles will win the American League over the Central Champion Tigers, East Champion Yankees and Wild Card-winning Red Sox and Rangers.
9. The Phillies will win the National League – This hurts – truly bites my bones to the core. But I have to spurn my beloved Braves and say that the Phillies will take home the big prize this year in the National League. They just have too much pitching, even with Ryan Howard on the shelf and Chase Utley iffy. I pick them over the Central-winning Reds, the West-winning Giants and the Wild Card-winning Braves and Dodgers.
10. The Angels will win the World Series – They just have too much talent and momentum. I don’t know any other way to say it. Give me a Pujols repeat, and let’s call it a day.
Just remember my track record with predictions before you lay money Albert’s repeat scenario.