There once was a man named Mark Foley,
who turned out to be a lot more thou than holy.
He had a taste for the pages
(especially the under-ages)
as a place to plunge his little pink poley.
 Do you see what I see?
Hey, look at that: Your gas prices have been getting lower...
 Pickin' and groanin'.
On April 2nd, I posted "Pickin' and Grinnin'," in which I tried to predict this year's National League standings and playoff picture. With the sweat and stifle of summer now past, and the crisp, earthy air of autumn filling our lungs, the time has come to assess those predictions. You can review the original post by clicking on the title, "MLB NL Central Predictions," located on the right side of the screen. If I were you, though, I wouldn't bother... I don't intend to gloss over my mistakes.
 Welcome back, Howard.
Have you been making your list?
Have you been checking it twice?
Do you know who's been naughty or nice, you nosey little prig?
 Slim pickin's.
Alas, for the first time this century, I failed to correctly predict the winner of the National League West. Clearly, I underestimated the Padres-- particularly their pitching and their ability to win on the road. And I don't think anyone could have envisioned how streaky the Dodgers (my pick) turned out to be: Lose 13 out of 14 here, win 17 of 18 there. Now, some may say, "Aha!... but the Dodgers and Padres actually tied for first place, and San Diego was awarded the title by dint of a tiebreaker," but I'm not going to hide behind that. I underestimated the Padres; I'll take my lumps. Besides, San Diego beat L.A. 13 times in 18 head-to-head meetings, so I really don't have a problem with Bud "I'm Making This Up As I Go Along" Selig naming San Diego division champions.
My forecast was........ LA, SD, SF, AZ, CO.
The actual standings... SD, LA, SF, AZ, CO.
Footnote: I disparaged the Rockies. I said it'd be a toss-up between them and Florida for the title of worst team in the League. As it turned out, the worst team in the League was... well, you know.
 Do you hear what I hear?
Your gas prices have been getting lower... just in time for the mid-term elections. Now, let's all be good little boys and girls and say to ourselves, "Hey, maybe those [certain to be cast into a fiery pit of Hades by the very Jehovah they so like to pose next to] Republicans aren't so bad, after all. Let's all drive down to the polls, right now! I'll take the Suburban. Honey, you take the Escalade. Jenny, you take the mini-van. I know you're only sixteen, Jenny, but if you promise to vote the "right" way, they'll overlook the technicalities... They're good at that."
If you're really, really good, you might even manage to convince yourself that you actually thought your own vote through, all by yourself, instead of simply responding to the programming that was imbedded deep in your brain by Exxon-Mobil when you had that "illness" as a child.
 *ahem* (again)
There once was a man named Mark Foley,
who engaged in a wee too much, uh, tomfoolery.
The man liked them young
and --oh, yes!-- well-hung,
even if only for some pocket poolery.
 Pick a card, any card.
I'd love to be able to tell you I was wrong. Really, I would. I spent six days out of every seven, all summer long, rooting against my own prognostication, but it wasn't to be: Those Poo-holes from Saint Loo won the Central division again. Houston made a late charge, but they waited too long before kicking in the afterburners and fell short (both of the division and, you might note, the wildcard). Aside from that, my biggest failure in forecasting the Central was probably my pipedreaming the Chicago Underachievers and Bud-lighters Society into third place.
My forecast........ STL, HOU, CHI, MIL, CIN, PIT.
Actual standings... STL, HOU, CIN, MIL, PIT, CHI.
Footnote: I said, somewhat ambiguously, that the road to the National League Championship would go through Saint Loo. By now, of course, you already know that those Poo-holes are, indeed, in the NLCS.
 Do you know what I know?
Your gas prices have been getting lower... but they still aren't as low
as they were before Halliburton invaded Iraq.
 Pickled tink.
Why, yes, I did pick the Mets to win the East. Yep, that was me, alright. Buy me a congratulatory drink: A decent sour mash on the rocks, with a splash of Coke. And make it a double, because they won the division by, like, 16 games or something gaudy like that. What's that? I said it would be closer? Much closer, you say? Hmm. What was I thinking?
Okay, here's what I was thinking: The Braves, you might remember, had won 14 straight division titles coming into this season. Many people, over the last several years, had picked against them and been wrong... Atlanta always seemed to find a way. In fact, I had picked against them and been wrong a few times myself. When I assessed the East this past spring, I couldn't get that of my head. So, I verbally hedged my bets: I picked the Mets, but then I wished my washy (or, uh, washed my wishy) and said, "But watch out for Atlanta, they'll make it close," or words to that effect. It was never close, of course: The Mets ran away with it. So cancel the sour mash. I'll just have a Natural Light straight out of the can, please.
My forecast........ NY, ATL, PHI, WAS, FLA.
Actual standings... NY, PHI, ATL, FLA, WAS.
 It's just a jump to the left... and then a step to the right.
You were in Salt Lake City a few weeks ago, Georgie. I was there the next day, but you had already left town. Last week, you were in Stockton, California, of all places. I was there the next day, but you had already left town. Are you avoiding me, you Smirking Marionette?
 Pick me up and dust me off.
The wildcard race was, as usual, wild... which is precisely as it should be. You heard me. Some of the more blasphemous among you have tried to advance the ridiculous, silly, absurd and downright crazy notion that I have some kind of a problem with Bud Selig as Commissioner of Baseball. I have absolutely no idea whatsoever where such a wacky and ludicrous rumor started... All kidding aside, though, the wildcard was and is a great idea and, believe it or not, I have always thought so. I really have. Reason: It keeps more teams in contention later into the season, thereby keeping more fans interested in baseball right through September (a key time, when it's competing with football for attention) and into the playoffs. Anyway, my forecast for the wildcard race went something like this: Houston would outdistance Atlanta and San Diego (the "first tier" of contenders), with (in no particular order) the Cubs, Phillies, Brewers and the Bay Area Retirement Home All-Stars also giving chase. Of course, that assessment presumed that the Dodgers would win the West. Instead, the final wildcard standings were: LA, PHI, HOU, CIN, ATL, FLA. Lastly, I concluded my season predictions with the summation that the playoff field would be "the Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets and Astros." The order in which I mentioned those teams was not random: It was a subtle prediction of the playoff seedings. The actual seedings were: Mets, Padres, Cardinals, Dodgers.
Bud "Let Us Pray To the Almighty Nielsen" Selig must go.