This week's blog entry is a milestone, but personally I'd rather be practical than self-congratulatory. With spring training in its last throes and the regular season a mere ten days away, what better time than now to post my baseball predictions for 2011? After all, there is a certain symbolism to the number 300 in baseball: a strong batting average, the unofficial minimum number of career wins to enter Cooperstown, a ridiculous amount of strikeouts in any given season. Granted, 300 home runs won't get you into the Baseball Hall of Fame --not in this day and age-- but it'll grab people's attention.
As such, my annual baseball preview typically has some type of quirk. In 2009, I explained why your team won't win the World Series, regardless of whether they were serious contenders or playing for pride. Last year, I posed a serious question about each team. This year, I'm exchanging short-order cynicism for the most simplistic yet elegant form of poetry: the haiku. That's right folks: I broke down all 30 MLB teams, seventeen syllables at a time. (Okay, sorry, moras.) Some of my prognostications are informative, others are witty, though a few are bordering on abstruse. Below my metrical compositions are my usual, concrete individual predictions for the year to come.
(playoff teams in bold)
(playoff teams in bold)
1. Red Sox: Behold, Great Gonzo!/the power hitter they need/to repeat glory.
2. Rays: No dismantling yet/youth and vigor in Tampa/means a Wild Card.
3. Yankees: One starting pitcher/is all the pinstripes have now/Lee screwed them over.
4. Orioles: Youth movement's growing/gives you one early warning/watch out for Wieters!
5. Blue Jays: Unhappy Canucks/woeful in the Great White North/is hope on the way?
1. Twins: Only 83 wins/might conquer this division/ho-hum, but sturdy.
2. White Sox: If pitching's healthy/might ignite a pennant race/if not... Big Country?
3. Tigers: Miguel, stop boozing/Motor City needs Sheen blood/and less Foster Brooks.
4. Indians: Panic in the Cleve/remember Pronk and Grady?/they used to produce.
5. Royals: Young and unproven/95 losses seems fair/can't wait until '12.
1. Rangers: No Lee or Vlady/makes for an uphill battle/but the bench is deep.
2. Angels: Proven veterans/the pitching is heavenly/tread lightly, Texas!
3. Athletics: Contenders? Hardly!/their grit wears opponents down/so I'll give them that.
4. Mariners: All-defense fizzled/so back to the drawing board/long year at Safeco.
1. Phillies: Halladay, Hamels/Oswalt and Lee, beastly arms/assured destiny.
2. Braves: Without Cox, are Braves/now Indian princesses?/surely critics jest.
3. Mets: So many questions/Beltran's glove, K-Rod's temper/this soap opera drags!
4. Marlins: Raw and unfocused/fish won't bite in '11/insert sushi joke.
5. Nationals: Strasburg and Harper/are mere glimmers in the eye/same old crap this year.
1. Reds: Impressive bats, but/a matter of time before/Baker wrecks Chapman.
2. Brewers: All hail Zach Greinke/the hero has run support/repeat of '08?
3. Cardinals: Pujols' wanderlust/and all those injured starters/birds go south early.
4. Cubs: Are you kidding me?/first baseman hits .200/simply staggering.
5. Pirates: Andrew McCutchen/and 24 other guys/all you need to know.
6. Astros: The least improved team/so-so arms and good speed/will not be enough.
1. Giants. They are dwarves no more/the kids have proven themselves/a dynasty looms?
2. Dodgers. High payroll, high hopes/the divorcing boys in blue/men on the rebound.
3. Rockies. Ubaldo's first half/was quite beastly in '10, but/can he pace himself?
4. Padres. Oh dear, that offense/won't help mighty rotation/80 low-score wins.
5. D-Backs. Expecting progress/with no power, weak bullpen/quite a tall order.
AL Rookie of the Year: Mike Moustakas, Royals
NL Rookie of the Year: Domonic Brown, Phillies
AL Cy Young: Jon Lester, Red Sox
NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum, Giants
AL MVP: Joe Mauer, Twins
NL MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
AL Manager of the Year: Terry Francona, Red Sox
NL Manager of the Year: Fredi Gonzalez, Braves
First Manager Fired: Edwin Rodriguez, Marlins
2011 World Series: Phillies over Red Sox in 6
Next Week: the year in music, 2001.