Did you google “gratuitous balls,” hoping to find an “upshort” shot of an overly tan 50-year old stretching himself on Coronado Island? Sorry, pal. We’re talking baseball. The Dominican pastime is back. Here’s GW’s 2010 MLB Preview:
1. Phillies: The Phils lost Cliff Lee, but added the MLB’s leader in wins, complete games, and shutouts over the last 8 years. And that was in the AL East. Barring a Halladay injury, such as a torn rotator cuff, or a lost eye caused by an errant (phriendly phire) battery thrown by a jackass Philly fan, the Phillies are the prohibitive NL favorite to reach their 3rd straight World Series.
2. Marlins: I really like this team with the incredibly unlikable owner. 3 thru 6: Ramirez/Cantu/Uggla/Ross. Yes.
3. Braves: Recently fired Chip Caray would’ve announced the shit out of the Braves’ decent slap-hitting line-up. “Swung on, belted…through the hole into left. Another single for Prado…” It’s been a long time, TBS. See you soon.
Nationals' current 4-man rotation.
4. Mets: Only the Mets challenge the Cubs in the amounts of bad money they spend. Unfortunately, the Mets are in the better division. This team should hit better, but they may have more DL days than Runs Scored.
5. Nationals: Strasburg: Prior or Sever? Kenny Powers? The Nats should be improved, but I can’t agree with the PECOTA projection of 82 Wins. Despite some decent bats, this is an awful defensive team with a thin pitching staff.
1. Cardinals: Like the first game after Tony LaRussa’s DUI, the opening day ‘Standing O’ for living-fraud Mark McGwire should be incredibly nauseating. The most pathetic fan-base in baseball will have a lot to cheer about until the next Cardinal player or coach hurts/kills himself or someone else in a drinking and driving accident. I’m putting it around the July 4th holiday. As for the team on the field, I am not as sold a some others. Fortunately, they reside in a terrible division. Any injuries to the top-2 in the rotation means trouble. Also, if they’re expecting another amazing season from Ryan Franklin, I have a useless arch to hit you with.
2. Cubs: The window might not be closed, but it’s certainly not open wide enough to clear out the stench of death. The team should score more runs, but will their pitching staff once again lead the NL in quality starts? I don’t know. Big Z is finally in shape and over his Venezuelan phobia of agua, so I’m expecting big things from him. But to expect Randy Welles and (an already injured) Ted Lilly to match their ’09 seasons is like expecting the vaguely offensive Fukudome souvenirs to disappear from Wrigley.
3. Reds: Edinson Volquez is out until about the All-Star Break. Even so, this is a team with a real solid starting staff. However, they are managed my Dusty Baker (aka, “Throwing Arm Kryptonite”). As The Onion read, “Dusty Baker Destroys Aroldis Chapman’s Arm Within Minutes Of Arrival.” At the end of the day, this is a team with an awful manager and (more importantly) a line-up that might have Willy Taveras and (Dusty favorite) Jerry Hairston Jr. hitting 1-2. Even in this division, that won’t cut it.
Oh, Doug Davis...how Prince has missed you
4. Brewers: With Fielder/Braun, the Crew will certainly score some runs. However, I keep reading how signing Randy Wolf + the Doug Davis-redux is going to improve a rotation with a real shaky 2 thru 5. Sorry Brewers fans, those signings do not make me tingle. In fact, backending Gallardo with Parra and Suppan (or Bush)? Dear God. That’s a terrible rotation. And I’m also assuming Trevor Hoffman’s arm doesn’t fall off at some point. I wouldn’t be surprised if Prince puts up MVP numbers, but it will all be for nothing but to increase his FA value for a select couple of AL teams.
5. Pirates: Baby steps. Will they break their streak of 17 straight losing season? No. Can they be better than a terrible Astros team? Sky’s the limit. And by sky, I mean “troposphere” – the 5th highest level of earth’s atmosphere.
6. Astros: Is this the worst team in the NL? I don’t know. Does Roy Oswalt own a gigantic bulldozer? New manager Brad Mills replaces the hated, yet overachieving Cecil Cooper.
1. Giants: I’m stepping out on this one. But after learning Tim Lincecum stuck to a pretty solid off-season weed regiment, everything seems to be lining up nicely for the Giants. Lincecum + Cain will be the NL’s best 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation (sorry, Cardinals fans. not really). Once GW favorite Freddy Sanchez returns from the DL, I expect (another GW favorite) manager Bruce Bochy to make a slightly-above-average lineup + solid bullpen work wonders for the Giants.
2. Dodgers: Off-the-juice Manny wasn’t swinging quite so sweet after he came back from his ’09 suspension. I expect that to continue. While Kershaw + Billingsly are nice young arms, the strength is still in the bullpen with gigantic closer Jonathan Broxton. Expect the Dodgers to come in 2nd place – which is coincidentally the same place owner Frank McCourt should end up after his messy divorce proceedings.
3. Rockies: This ranking is more a product of a pretty solid division. With Jeff Francis back, the Rockies’ staff could be very good, but I need to see Jiminez + DeLaRosa do it again. Also, I know Jim Tracy is supposed to be a solid manager, but if the weirdo is expecting Huston Street (sore shoulder) to put up another 35 for 37 saves, I’ll see him at Ted Haggard’s old Colorado Springs megachurch.
4. Diamondbacks: Someday this potentially awesome line-up could potentially carry this team to a potential league title.
5. Padres: Sell the goddamn team before you give away all your decent players to the fucking White Sox! Jesus Christo!
AL EAST [Note: Off-season baseball coverage is so over-saturated with the AL East, GW only allows 4-word max previews for this division.]
1. Yankees: OK, we get it.
2. Rays: Back to algorithmic projections.
3. Red Sox: Has to be someone.
4. Orioles: Buy the young talent.
5. Blue Jays: Blow.
1. Twins: Someone has to be the tallest-midget in baseball’s worst division. The change for the Twins will be the need for them to slug it out. Good line-up, average-at-best pitching. However, if Liriano gets back to form, they’re the clear favorite. RIP Metrodome – It was always a joy watching the White Sox self-destruct inside your sterile, out-dated dome.
2. White Sox: Due to a real solid 1-4 in the rotation, I was ready to swallow my contempt and place the White Sox atop the division. Then I read that Mark Kotsay was going to be batting 3rd against RH pitching. Hilarious. Good luck, douchebags.
3. Tigers: This line-up is about as old and crusty as Jim Leyland. There’s really not much to like, but then again, it is the AL Central. If they can get anything out of Bonderman or Dontrelle Willis, anything is possible.
4. Royals: Desperately looking for a counter-punch to reigning AL Cy Young Zach Greinke, the answer might be in-house:
Sluggerrr the Lion — the mascot for the Kansas City Royals — is accused of poking a fan’s eye out with a steaming hot wiener during a Major League Baseball game last year … and now the team is being sued over it.
It’s all in a lawsuit filed in Jackson County, Missouri in which John Coomer claims he was just chillin’ at a game on September 8, 2009 — when Slugger “climbed atop the third base dugout and started shooting hotdogs into the stands from an air gun.”
Coomer claims Slugger eventually put the air gun down — and started firing off the wieners by hand … when, according to the suit, things went horribly wrong.
In the docs, Coomer claims “Slugger lost control of his throw or was reckless with his throw, and threw the hotdog directly into the Plaintiff.”
Coomer claims the dog hit him right in his left eye — leaving him with a detached retina and the development of cataracts.
Coomer is now suing the Royals for more than $25k for negligence and battery — claiming they “failed to adequately train its agents … in the proper method in which to throw hotdogs into the stands at Kauffman Stadium.”
Raw talent. Just work on that arm-slot.
5. Indians: Well Cleveland, at least you have LeBron (until about the All-Star Break).
1. Angels: My favorite manager sometimes seems to do it with smoke and mirrors. They’ll miss Chone Figgins, but I like the addition of Matsui to the heart of the line-up. This division should be tight, so I’ll take Mike Scioscia.
2. Mariners: The team had a fantastic off-season (Figgins, Cliff Lee) until…. If it wasn’t for the Milton Bradley-factor, they would be the odds-on favorite. Lee/King Felix could be the best 1/2 in the AL. But Milton has already got run from a couple of pre-season games. It’s just a matter of time before the anti-lesbian Mariners’ fans are labeled as racist, and above all, anti-Milton.
3. Rangers: A steadily improving team, but keep an eye on Ron Washington’s coke habit. The 57-yr old manager apparently tested positive for cocaine last season, so be on the lookout for the following: (1) frequent, unneccessary trips to the mound; (2) Rambling press conferences hypothesizing on the effectiveness of Ian Kinsler’s shoelaces; and, (3) Catcher Jarrod Saltimacchia throwing up his hands in frustration after failing to understand the signals rapidly fired from the dugout by a chain-smoking Washington.
4. A’s: Jokeland.
NL Wild Card: Cubs
AL Wild Card: Rays
NL Champs: Phillies – Chase Utley, I would love to meet you someday, it would be great to have a catch.
AL Champs: Rays
World Series Champs: Other than Marlins’ fans, no one deserves a World Series Championship less than Rays’ fans. But I’ll take Joe Maddon in a 2008 rematch. Rays in 7.
NL MVP: Prince Fielder, Brewers - MashMashMash
NL CY YOUNG: Carlos Zambrano, Cubs – Big Z has been in the top-5 for Cy Young voting on 3 occasions. The crazy bastard finally breaks through!
AL MVP: Joe Mauer, Twins – Contract drama over, I see no reason why Mauer shouldn’t repeat as AL MVP. The guy is doing things unheard of for a catcher.
AL CY YOUNG: Felix Hernandez, Mariners – The best 2-pitch pitcher in baseball should dominate this season. Then he will best CC Sabathia in a torta-eating contest.
Best Recent Baseball-Related Song: The Felice Brothers, “Cooperstown”
Best Off-Season Arrest: Gerald Laird & Family -
Last month Tigers catcher Gerald Laird and his 22-year-old Yankees prospect brother Brandon Laird were arrested while attending a Phoenix Suns game, with initial reports describing their “loud behavior” and how “the Laird brothers allegedly assaulted the security guards” who tried to calm them down.
Gerald Laird insisted afterward that the whole thing was just a misunderstanding, but now the Arizona Republic has some further details. Chief among them is that the entire incident started when the Laird brothers’ 70-year-old grandfather allegedly touched the wife of Celtics player Eddie House “inappropriately” while they were all in the arena’s “lounge” area.
According to the police report Brandon Laird then “shouted derogatory remarks toward House and other women at the lounge before taking a swing at one of the women.” He was charged with suspicion of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, while Gerald Laird was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor assault for allegedly “striking a security guard in the head from behind during the brawl.”
So, to recap: Just about everyone in the entire Laird family showed up to a Suns-Celtics game drunk and then made their way to an in-arena bar for some more drinking, Grandpa tried to get fresh with an NBA player’s wife, Brandon got angry and turned the harassment level up a few notches, and Gerald sucker-punched a security officer once things got out of hand. Awesome.
Jeter, huh? i'd get tested...
Worst Off-Season Move: Brewers’ erecting statue to Bud Selig. Hopefully they will erect a gigantic syringe as well…along with a giant duffel bag containing giant unmarked bills.
Hottest Off-Season Acquisition: Minka Kelly.
Best non-Ron Washington Drug Story: Dock Ellis
Worst Uniforms: Diamondbacks (D’Backs? C’mon). And what’s up with that awful dirty white? Looks like you soaked them in a coffee/bleach combo. You too, Padres. Bring back the old school poo-brown/bright yellow.
Creepiest Manifestation of Over-the-top Narcissism: Alex Rodriguez:
A former Rodriguez fling remembers seeing portraits of the slugger, 34, as a centaur hanging over his bed.
“He was so vain,” his ex tells Us Weekly. “He had not one, but two painted portraits of himself as a centaur. You know, the half man, half horse figure?”
Adds the ex, “It was ridiculous.”
Creepiest Manifestation of…Whatever The Hell is Going on Here: Sammy Sosa (see below):
probably should've just gone with another minka kelly pic..
Enjoy the long long long season.