Spring Training is winding down and the real season is upon us. This has always been a fun time for me. The one sport that I really cared about was back. I looked forward to smelling the fresh cut grass at Dodger Stadium and watching most of the Braves games on TBS anxiously waiting for them to play the Dodgers. All the teams are amped up. Some have a chance to win the World Series, and some teams have less of a chance. However, one of the reasons I like baseball is because anything can happen. Any team can beat any other team on any given day. You don’t have to look any further than 2011 when the Cardinals won the World Series. They only got into the playoffs because of a monumental collapse by my beloved Braves and didn’t get in until the last day of the season. I’ll offer some predictions, but they should have an asterisk next to them.
I’ll start by predicting who I think will be in the playoffs. I’ll talk about the second wild card teams too, even though I completely disagree with it. From the National League West, I still think it’s the Diamondbacks division to lose, although with Buster Posey back for a full year, the Giants cannot be discounted. I think the Reds will be the sneaky team in the Central. The Cardinals lost their best player and their best pitcher will start the season on the DL. The Brewers should still be in the mix with Ryan Braun and Zack Grienke, but the loss of Fielder might be too much too overcome. The East is another tricky one to predict. The Phillies will be without Howard for some time so they need to play very well so they don’t have to dig themselves out of an early hole. The Marlins made some moves, but I don’t think they made enough to make difference. The Braves didn’t really do anything, but they were good enough for the Wild Card last year. The Nationals made a few moves that gave them one of the better pitching staffs in the NL. However, i still think it’s the Phillies’ division to lose. I feel like the Wild Card teams will be the Braves and the Giants.
The American League is a little more cut and dry. The West division really only has two teams that have a chance: the Angels and the Rangers. Both teams made HUGE offseason splashes. The Angels signed the best player in baseball in Albert Puljols and one of the better young pitchers in CJ Wilson. The addition of Wilson gives the Angels one of the best young staffs in all of baseball. The Rangers also made splash by signing Japanese sensation Yu Darvish. However, I think the Angels will pull it out. Last year, the Tigers were untouchable in the Central and they added one of the premier sluggers in baseball when they signed Prince Fielder. They are a virtual lock to win the Central. The East had a very uneventful offseason, but they mostly had pretty good teams. The Yankees are still the top dogs and the division should be won by them. My prediction for the two wild card teams are the Rangers and the Rays. The Red Sox have a lot to overcome, and it will be difficult.
That was the easy part. Picking who will be in, and winning the World Series will be more difficult. For the American League, I think it will come down to the Angels and the Tigers. I think the Tigers have a better team and will be able to overcome the Angels and get to the World Series. The National League is up for grabs. It could come down to whoever gets hot at the right time. I’m hoping that it will be the Braves, but I’m going to think outside of the box and go with the Giants to get the World Series. When all the shouting is over and it comes down to the final two teams, I think it will be the Tigers with their hand raised victorious as the 2012 World Series champions.
Of course, baseball is played on the field, and not on paper. These are just my thoughts on how the season will play out. Let me know what you think in the comments, or if I unfairly discounted your favorite team. Always remember, as Dusty Baker says, every game you win in April is one less game you have to win in September.
This year, as in years past, baseball will begin its season overseas. This year, they are going back to Japan. To me, it’s a good move for baseball. It shows that baseball, as uniquely American as it is, also has worldwide appeal. It’s very popular in Latin America as well as Japan and Korea. Major League Baseball should be the worldwide leader in baseball, and it is.
Ever since Hideo Nomo came to the Dodgers in 1995, there has been a love affair with Japanese players. Some have been good, some haven’t panned out as well as some teams have hoped. Others, like Ichiro, have set new standards for what is considered good. We may never see a hitter as good as Ichiro in our lifetime. He is one-o-a-kind.
Some may consider it a “brain-drain” of Japan because we are taking all of the best players and biggest stars. In some ways, that is a good assessment, but it is not entirely true. American teams pay a handsome sum to the Japanese teams just to negotiate with the players they want. The Rangers paid the Nippon Ham Fighters over $50 Million to negotiate with pitcher Yu Darvish. Nothing was guaranteed, and the posting fee helped the Nippon Ham Fighters spur their rebuilding. Yu Darvish left the Ham Fighters to help them.
When baseball begins its season in Japan, it will be a great thing for Japan, for the teams involved, and for Major League Baseball. The teams involved will still have their own opening days at their respective stadiums and their fans will get to see all of their favorite players and the players themselves will have an experience of a lifetime. It’s a win-win-win situation.
Plain and simple, they are the worst play-by-play guys in baseball, or any other sport for that matter. Personally, I can’t stand them. I cringe when I see there is a postseason game on FOX because I know they will be behind the mic. It’s even to the point now where I watch FOX games on mute and listen to records. I do that for the World Series.
It’s not Joe Buck. It’s mostly Tim McCarver.By himself, or with anyone else, Joe Buck is tolerable, however arrogant. When you mix the perceived arrogance of Joe Buck and the annoyance of Tim McCarver, you get a recipe for disaster. From as far back as I can remember hearing him call a game, I have not liked him.
Most of the time when he tries to guess strategy, he’s wrong. When he tries to sound clever, he doesn’t make any sense. It’s almost as if he oblivious to the game. Thanks to Twitter, I realized that I was not the only one who doesn’t like him. In fact, I am hard-pressed to find people that actually like him. It’s amazing to me that he still has a job on FOX.
Whether it’s his love affair with Derek Jeter, or his awful play calling, Tim McCarver is the biggest problem of a FOX postseason that is filled with problems. I will be glad when the announce team gets replaced on FOX. Maybe I won’t have to watch the game on mute anymore.