Pickin' and Grinnin'
There. I feel better.
Take a deep, deep, soul-cleansing breath, everyone. Do it outdoors. Take a ball and glove with you when you go. Use it to continue the never-ending quest for that sublime, subtly resonant "pop" of the ball perfectly hitting the pocket. Clear your mind. Soak in some sunshine. Baseball season is here; Earth is a good place to be.
Mighty pleased was I to cast my eye upon the sacred schedule and find that this year's National League season opens with Chicago playing Cincinnati-- the way God intended. God, of course, is Alexander Cartwright. (To those of you who hadn't figured that out yet: Uh... sorry to spoil the ending.) For it was Cartwright who spake unto Noah, "Set your bases apart to a distance of ninety feet; Comprise your teams of nine players each. Move the shortstop to the infield, and have your pitchers and catchers report early.
"Oh, yeah, and one more thing: For goodness' sake, don't play in the rain, ya putz."
With the new season comes another chance for us all to test our prognosticational prowess. To pick, in other words, our own personal peck of pickled playoff teams. Perhaps even to predict a potential pennant-winner.
Let's get started in the West. Once again, I'll advise you that I've compiled an awfully good record over the years, forecasting how the West will be won. Go ahead and scoff, if you feel you must. Or, wager accordingly. It's entirely up to you.
Many of the so-called experts are picking San Francisco, but I don't think the Fighting AARPs have it in them. Arizona has gotten worse, and neither San Diego nor Colorado has gotten much better. (Side bet: Who will be worse-- the Rockies or the Marlins?) Anyway, I'm going with the Trolly-dodgers to win the division.
My projected order of finish: LA, SD, SF, AZ, CO.
On to the Central, where the theme is, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." I hate to have to say it, but the Cardinals are the class of The League again. I'm not actively predicting a pennant-winner --I'm merely picking which teams will make the playoffs-- but it's a pretty safe bet that the Championship will go through Saint Loo.
My forecasted standings: STL, HOU, CHI*, MIL, CIN** and PIT.
*The Cubs will again tantilize their fans by hovering around on the outer edges of contention. They won't actually BE in contention, mind you... just close enough to be frustrating.
**The Reds have a lot of pop, but very little speed and virtually no pitching.
Now then, the East. This one's a toughie. Part of me wants to pick the Braves; Part of me wants to pick the Metropolitans. I think it'll be a very close race, and I'm not at all sure where the loser will stand with regard to the wildcard. On a hunch, I'm going to go with New York to come out on top... but it's a very close call.
Order of finish: NY, ATL, PHI, WAS, FLA.
...Which leaves us with the wildcard. The main contenders will be San Diego, Houston and whomever finishes on the short end of the Atlanta-New York dogfight. Other squads with an outside shot include the San Francisco Retirement Home All-Stars, the Philly-fellas, the Milwaukee Miller Lites and the aforementioned Chicago Underachievers and Bird-watchers Society.
My pick... Houston.
So, there you have it. This year's playoff teams will be the Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets and Astros.
Enjoy the season... at least until June.