I maintain that baseball is my third favorite sport. Look, there’s even a baseball in the MattHubert.com header graphic. But it’s a distant third behind basketball and football. Distant as in I’d rather watch professional, college and high school basketball/football before Major League Baseball.
So my lack of writing about baseball is not so much about disliking baseball. It’s more about my obsession with basketball and football.
That said, I felt called to write my first baseball column for the site today because, believe it or not, the MLB season began today in the wee hours of the morning as the Oakland Athletics battled the Boston Red Sox in the friendly confines of…Japan? Yes, Japan.
Seven months from now, the A’s and the Sox may reconvene for a chilly October playoff series in the U.S. northeast, but they started their 162-game marathon of a season in the Far East. (For the record, the Red Sox won the game 6-5 in 10 innings.)
It may be a prognosticating faux pas to write a preview column after the games have already begun, but let’s be honest, I don’t really know what I’m previewing to begin with and a one game advantage isn’t going to make much of a difference. In the NFL and NBA, I can rattle of rosters of players like family members. In MLB, I can’t conjure up one name for some teams much less determine the lasting impact of Tampa Bay dropping the “Devil” from their Rays.
hours minutes of rigorous research looking up which teams play in which division, I found the courage to predict the finish for the Yankees and Red Sox all 30 Major League teams along with a rationale in great detail 10 words or less.
American League East
1. New York Yankees: Eight years between World Series wins makes Steinbrenners go crazy.
2. Boston Red Sox: Lovable losers to Yankees’ reflection in less than five years.
3. Toronto Blue Jays: Joe Carter happened in 1993. Nothing’s happened since then.
4. Tampa Bay Rays: No more Devils. No chance of winning division either.
5. Baltimore Orioles: Cal Ripken’s streak only outdone by O’s losses without him.
American League Central
1. Detroit Tigers: I like big bats and I cannot lie.
2. Cleveland Indians: Always the bridesmaid, never the best team in baseball.
3. Minnesota Twins: Twin partings Hunter and Santana leave ‘Sota sorta bitter.
4. Chicago White Sox: 2005 Champs. 2006 Chump. 2007 Chumpier. 2008 Chumpiest?
5. Kansas City Royals: Minor league players playing in a major league park.
American League West
1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Geographically challenged, financially charged.
2. Oakland Athletics: Environmentally friendly baseball: reduce spending, reuse strategy, recycle roster.
3. Seattle Mariners: Where Ichiro is perpetually on base and in scoring position.
4. Texas Rangers: Not the Walker version, unfortunately.
National League East
1. New York Mets: City? Check. Payroll? Check? Championships? Hold that thought…
2. Atlanta Braves: If time is a human construct, consider the Braves immortal.
3. Philadelphia Phillies: Mascot doubles as face of the franchise. Sorry Ryan Howard.
4. Washington Nationals: Check mlb.com, this is real franchise.
5. Florida Marlins: Owner loves fantasy baseball, starts from scratch each season.
National League Central
1. Chicago Cubs: Cursed and cuddly baby bears haven’t won in a century.
2. St. Louis Cardinals: Same outdated haircut, same winning ball club for LaRussa.
3. Houston Astros: Insert steroids joke/essay/lamentation here.
4. Cincinnati Reds: Remember when Griffey was great? Before Cincinnati.
5. Milwaukee Brewers: At least they’ll win more games than the Bucks…
6. Pittsburgh Pirates: …but these Bucs won’t: All-time losers after this year.
National League West
1. Arizona Diamondbacks: Not ‘Arizona Backs,’ Tampa, but Arizona back to the playoffs.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers: Torre in Dodger blue won’t be enough.
3. Colorado Rockies: Baseball in the mountains hits a valley this year.
4. San Diego Padres: Did St. Diego really have more than one father?
5. San Francisco Giants: Fewer headlines, homeruns and wins minus Bonds.
1. New York Yankees over 4. Boston Red Sox
2. Detroit Tigers over 3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
1. Arizona Diamondbacks over 4. St. Louis Cardinals
2. New York Mets over 3. Chicago Cubs
1. New York Yankees over 2. Detroit Tigers
2. New York Mets over 1. Arizona Diamondbacks
2008 World Series
1. New York Yankees over 2. New York Mets
As a Yankee hater, I feel like the Bronx Bombers have been far too cooperative in recent years with postseason flameouts. I expect a big money brawl (not to be confused with Moneyball) in the World Series with a renewal of the Subway Series. Johan Santana will help the Mets push the series to seven games, but the Yankees will find a way to win in spite of Alex Rodriguez’s penchant for poor playoff performances.