I'll save you the boring intro, and dive right into this - all baseball. Let’s do it.
Their Deal: They play in the most underrated city on the East Coast in one of the best ballparks IN ALL THE LAND! They used to be a storied franchise, usually very good year in and year out from the 60s into the mid 90s, but then things totally got out of hand. They haven’t even really been competitive in like ten years (save a decdent first half in 2005). Blame one of the worst owners in sports, Peter Angelos. And if you don’t start thinking about Avon, McNulty, and Bubs when you’re looking for parking or catching a glimpse of downtown, well then you obviously don’t watch the greatest TV show of all time.
Stud Muffin: Miguel Tejada – even though Tejada has almost been traded like five times and those ‘roid rumors won’t go away, Tejada is probably the best O, which isn’t saying much since it’s no longer 2003.
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): This is a toss up between Jaret Wright and Steve Trachsel. Trachsel is the one righty and won’t go away, which is amazing when you think about it. Remember when he was an All-Star for the Cubs? Wow... Meanwhile, Wright is only 31, but it seems like he started the whole “I’m a hot prospect but I’m going to get injured every single year and never live up to the hype” trend before Wood and Prior.
Key To Season: Kris Benson staying healthy and pitching well… oh well, maybe next year. This team has a pretty poor outfield (seriously, it’s probably the worst in the American League) and their pitching, which seemed to be coming around a little bit last year
Silver Lining: Maybe this is the year Anna Benson bangs everyone in the clubhouse. The bullpen should be very good.
Random Thoughts: Let me say this again, Baltimore is a really cool city and underrated big time. Sure, the city has it’s problems, but the city has character, arts, hip, grit and a never say die ‘tude. Gotta love that. Plus, being so close to DC it can’t help but look cool... The O’s meanwhile, are sort of a lost cause. I wish I could figure this team out, but I can’t. They seem to be all over the place, a few good starters (Bedard), a nice infield, and lot of question marks in the outfield (is Markakis for real? Can Corey Patterson have another solid year?)... This team just doesn’t excite me like they did in the past.
Chances/Prediction: With Boston clearly better, the Yankees about as good, and the Jays probably a bit better, a run for third is out of the question. And one of these years the Rays won’t finish in last. This might be that year. Winning 80 games would be a good year for the O’s, but what’s the point? This team is old on the field and has a weird mix of young and old arms… I say direction is needed in the front office. A 95 loss year wouldn’t be that bad considering they’ve been so blah for so long now. Hey at least the good people of Ballmore have the Wire.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Their Deal: They have more young talent than anyone else in the majors and now these guys are starting to make it to the show. Of course, the might score 850 runs, but they’ll allow 900 because their pitching stinks.
Stud Muffin: If you want to talk talent and tools, the Rays have Cantu, Delmon Young, Carl Crawford, BJ Upton, and the “Most likely to be the Ron Artest of baseball” Elijah Dukes. (btw, I was shocked that the Rays have a fan who actually blogs about them). But I’ll go with Scott Kazmir who the Mets gave away for no reason what so ever a few years ago. That was one of the worst trades in baseball history… if Kazmir was a Met, the Mets go to the World Series last year and probably win (assuming the Tiger pitchers throw 938 come backers down the left field line still).
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Gosh this team is young… but if he makes the team Greg Norton would get the nod. Norton was my arch enemy in the mid to late 90s when he played far too much on the South Side of Chicago. And let me give a shout out to Josh Paul, who is still in baseball even after the drama that was Game Two of the 2005 ALCS (not on youtube!).
Key To Season: Figure out how to get Scott Kazmir to pitch three times a week and then pray for one of these young arms to be pretty good. Then keep everyone healthy while they continue to mature. Also avoiding run in with the law or umps would be a good idea.
Silver Lining: One of these days they have to win 81 games right? Could this be the year? If they get any sort of pitching this year, they just might.
Random Thoughts: Lots of young talent, no pitching… the same old story in Tampa. No one will to the games… I don’t really care any more because I’m sort of convinced that they will never be good… Maybe this is a good time to mention that this whole Cingular is the new AT&T stuff seems completely unnecessary… and did you know that the Oasis song that they use (All Around the World) is like 9 minutes long?... Would the real Jorge Cantu stand up? He was horrible last year after I fell for him in 2005.
Chances/Prediction: Maybe they don’t finish in last, but I sort of doubt it. They aren’t that good… too young and no pitching after Kazmir.
Toronto Blue Jays
Their Deal: They finished in second place (which we totally called) in case you forgot. This is a good team, they signed Vernon Wells for the next seven years (or whatever it is), and brought Frank Thomas aboard. Could they be even better than last year? Sure… why not.
Stud Muffin: Vernon Wells and Roy Halladay, please share this
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Royce Clayton… we’re getting to the point where he’s played for 20 of the 30 teams in the Majors. He’s only 37 too!
Key To Season: They need to get a good year from AJ Burnett. Rolling the dice on John Thomson isn’t a bad move… if Frank Thomas plays as well as he did last year, this team could be really, really good.
Silver Lining: They get to hear “Oh Canada” every night. That’s a plus in my book. Should be a fun team to watch too.
Random Thoughts: Just remembered, this team still doesn’t have a middle infield (that’s why they brought Clayton aboard, ouch)… Isn’t it weird, but most of America will be pulling for a Canadian team to beat the Red Sox and Yankees… then again considering that 40% of white males in America are Red Sox fans maybe most of America won’t be pulling for our fine Canadian friends… remember when SkyDome was considered cool?... why can’t they go back to their old unis from the 1980s when George Bell was winning MVPs?... I still find it amazing that George Bell isn’t American.
Chances/Prediction: They are going to be around, this is a good team. But they’re going to need help, in other words, for the Yankees or Red Sox to fall apart. They got that from the Red Sox last year… maybe the Yankees will fall apart this year?
New York Yankees
Their Deal: They’re the Yankees, I couldn’t possibly sum them up here. We all know it, they always win, they are sort of like the Microsoft or US military of baseball.
Stud Muffin: A-Rod, Jeter, and Bobby Abreu could all claim Yankee Studness.
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Lots of options here… but I’ll take Doug Mientkiewicz just because he doesn’t seem to go away, literally, I wonder if JD Snow and Mienkiewicz are brothers, or the same person, I don't know… though Giambi, Mussina, and Rivera have all been around forever.
Key To Season: Not collecting social security… this team, like all Yankee teams, is old. And their fourth and fifth starters? Kei Igawa and Carl Pavano… yuck. They need Roger Clemens and his roid rotting body to join midseason. Oh yeah, Wang has to pitch as well as he did last year. Not likely.
Silver Lining: Maybe A-Rod will get a hit in the playoffs this year! That is, if they make the playoffs. And if they don't, it's the last year of A-Rod in New York, yay!
Random Thoughts: They’ve won the East ten years in a row or something and they’re still a good six years behind the Braves record… I’m not a fan of this team, reminds me too much of the 2005 team which wasn’t that good… This is A-Rod’s last year in New York right? Wouldn’t it be great if he beat the shit out of Jeter this year?... Speaking of those two, they have to be the most awkward set of teammates of all time right? I mean, Denis Rodman and Steve Kerr had more in common than these two… I’ll said it again, but if you ever talk to anyone who knows the newspaper industry in New York, they’ll tell you that Jeter is an absolute jerk and that A-Rod is a nice guy, even if it can be a ninny.
Chances/Prediction: The Yankees have major problems at the back end of their rotation combinibed with the fact that Pettitte and Mussina are old and there is almost no way that Wang can pitch as well as he did last year (though, I’ll eat crow if he does) in other words the Yanks may be in major trouble this year. Maybe they sneak into the playoffs, but even if they do, they’re not going anywhere because the starting pitching just isn’t there.
Boston Red Sox
Their Deal: After having an entire nation cheer them on for years and years in the early part of this century, they finally won, and within six months we had all turned against them. Looking back, I wish the Yankees had won in 2004 just to spare us of this “Every White Male between the Ages of 20-34 must own a Red Sox hat”… as for the team, they were not that good last year, but it seemed like the front office got their act together this offseason making some nice moves.
Stud Muffin: Matsuzaka, or Dice-K if you prefer lame nicknames, let’s face it, he’s like the next Babe Ruth, Walter Payton, Michael Jordan, and Walter Johnson combined. He’s also beat up Chuck Norris and could end world hunger when it's all said and done.
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Curt Schilling… I know, Curt won’t ever allow us to not know what he’s up to, but he’s 41, he’s been around forever, and the end has to be near. He had a nice year last year, but he’s slowing down and he can’t go away soon enough, if for no other reason than he comes off as a total phoney.
Key To Season: After not having enough pitching last year, they have enough pitching this year, even with Timlin banged up. But they are starting to get old and that infield features Mike Lowell, Julio Lugo, Kevin Youkilis, and a rookie named Dustin Pedroia… in other words, they might be good for 50 home runs combined… that’s not good. Ortiz and Manny have to be Ortiz and Manny and JD Drew cannot in anyway be JD Drew.
Silver Lining: Boston is a cool town, Fenway is still Fenway for all it’s pros and cons, and they do have a good team. Plus who doesn’t love David Ortiz?
Random Thoughts: Schilling + Boston Fans + White Males Claiming to be Red Sox fans = They are like a poor mans New York Yankees… Pampola, I wonder what it was like before the airplane? As cool as Hemingway wrote or not as cool?... “Woe is us,” Boston collectively every day… I’ve got six game winning hits for Ortiz this year… A few good names on this team: Willy Mo, Coco, Julio, even JD can get it done… Can we please stop this “Manny being Manny” madness? It’s “Rickey be Rickey” and this Manny crap is a blaent copyright infringment. Manny an aloof dude, don’t get me wrong, but he’s no Rickey Henderson. Let’s not in anyway infringe on the greatness that is Rickey Henderson. Only three and a half years until his Hall of Fame speech. I'm excited just thinking about it.
Chances/Prediction: In a division with no clear cut team, they should have the best pitching in the division assuming that Matsuzaka is half as good as people make him out to be (in other words 15 wins). Beckett should be better and it seems like things are finally stable in the front office which will only help come June and July.
5) Tampa Bay Devil Rays
4) Balitmore Orioles
3) New York Yankees
2) Boston Red Sox
1) Toronto Blue Jays