Before we embark on the 15-month baseball season (I guess it only feels that way to me), here's a 'Good For You' to the Baylor women's basketball team for winning the NCAA title Tuesday night and rolling to college basketball's first-ever 40-win season. Granted, they have the ginormous 6'8" Brittany Griner to help them, but after watching Kentucky win the men's title -- thereby starting the clock on the "How Long Will It Take For the NCAA To Strip This Final Four Trip From John Calipari" watch -- this was a win that you could really get behind.
Anyway, here it is folks, Major League Baseball's highly anticipated 2012 Opening Night. Right there between last week's Opening Games and tomorrow's Opening Day. It's enough to make me want to give Bud Selig an Opening Wound. But everybody finally gets to play for keeps now, which is nice.
A quick nod to my folks in The Baseball League fantasy feifdom: regarding Boston's Andrew Bailey, I told you so. I knew Mark Melancon would be the closer. And I'm working hard to find a permanent home for the blog. Be patient with me, like you are with your pitchers. (Right?)
Without a whole lot of fantasy stuff to talk about yet, here are my predictions for the division races, and the new, added 2nd wild card, which I realized I'm in support of. Think about how important it is to win the division now; the wild card teams will all have burned through a day of pitching before the playoffs even start, which benefits the team with the best record in each league. I always said the wild card teams should start the DS behind by a game. Wild cards should have a very uphill climb to win it all.
Oh yeah, those predictions ...
NL East -- It's important for Ozzie Guillen to win, and the players and fans will pick up on it, and the Miami Marlins are winning this thing over an offensively challenged Phillies team that will win a Wild Card because it can pitch (thank God). How depleted? Their No. 3 hitter for the time being is Ty Wigginton. (Followers: A Washington team that will surprise people, Atlanta, the N.Y. M(y) E(ntire) T(eam) S(tinks).
NL Central -- Milwaukee, because I can't pick a rookie manager to win a division. St. Louis, playing with the We-Can-Win-Without-Albert chip on their shoulders, takes the other wild card. (Followers: A Pittsburgh team that will continue improving, Cincinnati, Chicago, Houston)
NL West -- Arizona won't surprise anybody, but winning isn't a surprise anymore. (Followers: San Fran, Colorado, San Diego, LA Magic Lakers).
AL East -- Tell me today who's pitching staff stays the healthiest and I'll give you the winner. Having to pick now, I'll go with ... er ... um, Boston I guess. Yankees get a wild card, but not before sweating out a duel with the Rays. Toronto will be in it for a while. Baltimore should be eliminated soon after Opening Day.
AL Central -- Verlander and Valverde and pray for snow, unless Fielder's bombs bring rain. Detroit wins it. Followers: Chicago, Minnesota, Cleveland, Kansas City.
AL West -- Texas outguns the Californians, who take the other wild card. Seattle and Oakland behind.
I'm taking Detroit over Arizona in the World Series, but I'm not very good at this.