As Terrell Owens would say, "Get your popcorn ready."
It's baseball season once again, where everyone is in first place and the dream of lifting that World Series trophy high over head while being showered in champagne is still fresh. This is a very exciting time for me. I was first introduced to the game when I was about 4 or 5, with my dad teaching me how to field grounders with a tennis ball and a little plastic glove. Now, at 22, I live, sleep, eat, and drink baseball. My cable provider just added the MLB Network and my T.V. stays there. My dream was to always play in the majors, but my lack of athleticism was the end of that. Now, my dream is to work in baseball in any way possible. I heard a story of a young fellow in southern California who won an online raffle to sit in front of 8 televisions and watch every MLB game this year, from opening day to the last out of the world series. THAT'S OVER 2,500 GAMES!!! You wouldn't have to pay me at all to do that. A nice comfortable chair with all the food I can eat and I'm good. This blog is going to be about the 2011 season, what I have seen so far and my predictions as to what the season will be like.
With the aquisitions of 1B Adrian Gonzalez and LF Carl Crawford, everyone was ready to hand the Boston Red Sox the trophy in March. A good saying I once heard was,"You can celebrate in April, but we will be dancing in October." This is why we play the games, because nothing is won in spring training. I have never been a big fan of big money spending in the off season; I believe the off season is where you build up your farm system and bullpen. Want an example? I'll give you one. New York Yankees love to show their wallets and just how deep they go. They have the highest payroll in baseball and how many rings do they have to show for it? None. One big goose egg. Now the oppisite, Texas Rangers (besides the Cliff Lee deal) they made it all the way to the World Series with a bunch of system kids that have played and came up through the minors together. But hey, to each his own. In my opinion, the Yankees will not win a championship with this group. I just don't see it happening. Back to the Red Sox who have started 0-6.. It is early, but not the start everyone expected. Oh well, 154-6 isn't too shabby... except to the NATION!
My team is, yes, the loveable losers from the north side of Chicago. 102 years of pain and misery and coming so close in 2003 to see it all just fall apart. However, the NL Central may look a little different this year. The Pittsburgh Pirates finally look relevant and atleast willing to put up a fight. I believe this is the changing of the guard in the Central. Those bottom feeders from the past years are going to push their way to the top and the champs of past years, such as the Cards and Stros, will be looking up. It was bound to happen sooner or later with all the last place finishes of the Reds and Pirates. It gave them time to build the farm system and it is showing. Meanwhile, my Cubbies will be a middle of the pack team again and that's okay, looking at last season, because it can only go up from here. I think the Brewers will be right there with us. Now the Cardinals are an interesting story. With the nest player in the game, you always expect them to contend, but this being his contract year and so much speculation as to whether St. Louis will pony up the money is still to be seen. Since 2005, when the Astros made their World Series run, it has been a rough, slow uphill walk.. especially after trading their ace Roy Oswalt and All-Star Lance Berkman in 2010. It is time the Astros started rebuilding.
There are some pretty big milestones to be reached this year.
1) Mariano Rivera needs 43 saves to take the top save spot from Trevor Hoffman.
2) Jim Thome is closing in on 600 homeruns for his career and there is an outside chance the Manny Ramirez could join him with only being 45 dingers for 600.
3) Mark Teixeira and Paul Konerko are going to hit their 300 homeruns this season if they stay healthy.
4) Ichiro has 7 batting titles, that has him tied with Ty Cobb and Pete Rose.. pretty good company.
5) Derek Jeter needs 74 hits to get to 3000. Experts say he will get it sometime during the middle of the season, and the Yankees do play in Wrigley field in June!!!
A few rookies I'm looking at to have a big season:
1)Michael Pineda- Seattle Mariners. A big tall flame throwing right hander to compliment King Felix.
2)Zach Britton- Baltimore Orioles. A south paw that will start the engine again in Baltimore.
3) Kyle Drabek- Toronto Blue Jays. Part of the Roy Halladay trade, he will lead a young rotation in Toronto.
4)Freddie Freemen- Atlanta Braves. Another good looking rookie coming out of that farm system; big, tall First Baseman.
5) Brandon Belt- San Francisco Giants. A big First Baseman that will help for a repeat.
This will be a really fun season. It seems like a lot of teams we haven't seen in a long time will be pushing for a playoff spot. In the NL west, I like the San Francisco Giants. They have just too much fire power in the rotation for anyone to keep up. I like the Cinncinati Reds in the Central.. A really good lineup. The Philadelphia Phillies will come out of the East with the 4 Aces, and the Rockies will win the Wild card.
In the American League is where alot of teams will start to show how they have just rebuilt. The Orioles, Blue Jays, Royals and A's will all be around come September. In the West, I like the Rangers and their deep loaded line up. The White Sox will take to Central behind the big bats in the middle of that line up and the Boston Red Sox in the East behind all their money. With the Wild cards going to the Yankees.
World Series: San Francisco over Boston and 7 games.