Baseball opened up shop today, on what I still think should be a national holiday. Sadly, no one wants to give up a day in April for the National Pastime, so until then, I work on this day under protest (sure, it's a silent protest...).
Anyway, things led off last night, under weather conditions that had to bring to mind October, as the Big Unit outdueled the just plain big David Wells in a 9-2 Opening Night showdown at the Stadium. Having the Red Sox in this early is borderline absurd, but it might be just what the doctor ordered, to wash the bad taste of the ALCS out of Yankee fans mouths, and get the season started right.
Now, speaking of the season, this space has been decidedly light on "season previews," predictions or projections. Part of me balks at the practice, because everyone spends a good chunk of March on previews, and I sometimes feel like I have nothing to add to the conversation. So I'm taking a suggestion from the Back Bay to the Promised Land blog--I'm going to give you my picks, then spend some time telling you who is likely to surprise us, or at the very least surprise me.
AL East ......... AL Central ..... AL West
1. Red Sox ... 1. Twins ....... 1. Oakland
2. Yankees* .. 2. Indians ..... 2. Angels
3. Blue Jays . 3. Tigers ...... 3. Rangers
4. Baltimore . 4. White Sox ... 4. Mariners
5. Devil Rays .5. Royals
MVP: Manny Ramirez; Cy Young: Randy Johnson; ROY: Nick Swisher
NL East ......... NL Central ..... NL West
1. Braves .... 1. Cardinals ... 1. Dodgers
2. Mets* ..... 2. Cubs ........ 2. Padres
3. Marlins ... 3. Reds ........ 3. Giants
4. Phillies .. 4. Brewers ..... 4. Rockies
5. Nats ...... 5. Astros ...... 5. Diamondbacks
.............. 6. Pirates
MVP: Albert Pujols; Cy Young: Josh Beckett; ROY: Andy Marte
Yawn. Am I done yet? Talk about groupthink: my AL picks exactly match the aggregate picks of the BP staff. Overall, it's boring, staid, and nearly banal. With these picks, I likely have the Yankees meeting the Dodgers in the World Series, which is just about as plain vanilla as you can get.
So tomorrow, I'll come back to tell you why I'm wrong, wrong, wrong about some of these picks (and to justify making a few of the choices I made that might seem a bit off).