This is, without question, my favorite time of the year.
Not only is the weather turning warmer and it is turning absolutely beautiful outside with the blooming of the flowers and the azaleas and my wonderful Japanese Cherry tree in my backyard, but on top of that, at least for those of us who love sports, three of the greatest events in all of sports are taking place at the same time.
March Madness will be concluding this weekend. How’s your bracket doing? As I write this I certainly don’t know who will have made it to the Final Four since the tournament is starting today but there have already been some upsets and I’m sure that there will be many more to come. I have Kansas, Syracuse, Villanova, and West Virginia in my Final Four with Kansas winning it all. But this is truly a year when anyone could win it.
Then, down the road in Augusta, the Masters will be teeing off next weekend. I, for one, will be glad to see Tiger swinging his driver once again and I wish him the best. I don’t, for a moment, condone his behavior, but he is still the greatest golfer of all time and I want to see him on the tour because without him, it is lackluster and boring.
And then, to me, a baseball fan all the way, the start of the season is just around the corner and that brings excitement and anticipation. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what might be in store for us baseball fans this year and make a few predictions along the way about how I think the divisions will pan out.
National League East
We have to start here because that’s where our hometown Atlanta Braves play. This will be a somewhat bitter-sweet year as we will finally say goodbye to Bobby Cox. Love him or hate him, and I’m one of those who thinks he is a great manager, he has done something that will never be duplicated again- 14 straight division titles. Of course, the realist in me says that he also only won one World Series and that’s what really matters but I hope he goes out in style. He won’t! The Braves will finish in fourth only ahead of the Mets. Chipper Jones will be traded to an American League team to become a designated hitter at mid-season and Hanson, Jurrjens, and Wagner will all flop.
The Marlins, like the Tampa Bay Rays of a few years ago, will edge the Phillies and the Nationals will be the surprise of all baseball.
National League Central
In one of the most astounding trades of all time, the Cards will trade Albert Pujols to the Phillies for Ryan Howard.
This will cause the Cards to go into a total tailspin and finish behind the Brewers and, yes, you heard it here, the Cubs, who will finally win a division. The Pirates, Reds, and Astros will play out the season but will be consolidated and combined into one team at season’s end by order of the Commissioner.
National League West
The Rockies will win the division but will be pushed by the Giants.
Tim Lincecum will be attacked by a female fan who will cut his long hair for a souvenir. We will discover that his hair is his strength since he won’t be able to throw his fastball any faster than 78 MPH. Manny Ramirez will decide to leave baseball for the priesthood but will first demand a trade to the Padres.
American League East
On his deathbed, George Steinbrenner will decide to trim payroll to pay for his funeral. Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and ARod will all be put on waivers. And in the biggest surprise of all, CC Sabathia will finally learn how to wear his uniform and hat properly instead of looking like the biggest slob in all of baseball. Since the Red Sox always do exactly what the Yankees do, they will follow suit and the Orioles will win the division.
American League Central
Joe Mauer will not win the batting title or the MVP but will win Miss Congeniality at the Miss America Pageant after he goes through a successful sex change. The White Sox will decide to be politically correct and change their nickname to the Ashen Hosers. Tigers and Indians and Royals, oh my! Boredom and tedium and ennui (look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls), who cares?
American League West
Does anybody really care? We live in Georgia and most of us don’t even know where Seattle is. For the record, Ichiro is discovered to be a Japanese spy and he is deported in July.
Distraught at this, Hidekeo Matsui commits hari kare and the A’s move their franchise to Billings, Montana. The Rangers will win the division and defeat the Cubs to win the World Series.
The rules of the All-Star Game will change once again. Each member of the winning team will have to go to a Miley Cyrus concert. On second thought, that sounds like what the losing team should get but instead they have to watch every episode of her show.
That’s it for my predictions for this year and if you haven’t figured it out already.....
Randy Blalock is a columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.