Scott makes his Opening Day Baseball Picks….
THE SEASON IN THE SUN
Season’s change, and it’s time for the annual passage of spring we call the “National Pastime”. Under Bud Selig Major League Baseball has shot itself in the foot so many times that what was once the foundation of dreams of every American boy, the quest for the World Series, has now become watered down with wild cards and playoff berths earned by players we now know we’ll never be able to trust to play it straight. By the time we get to the one time “Fall Classic” the only people who still care are the fans of the two teams still standing. It’s not the national attention getter it once was. Thanks Bud. I will step off the soap box and make a prognostication or two about how I assess the 2013 season. I won’t pick ten teams for the post season, not with four wild cards and the American League East so up for grabs, but I can’t see how the Detroit Tigers won’t represent the American League when the dust clears in October. They may not have it all, but they have the pitching, they have the hitting and they have the defense. Other than that I can’t account for bad breaks, including injuries, and bad calls. Factor in the intangibles and give the Angels a chance if things don’t go the Tigers’ way. I do have one American League prediciton I’m confident with. The Astros won’t be competing for one of the five playoff spots. They will be the worst team in the league. With a $25 million payroll and built to lose in the National League, they can only do worse in the American. The Tigers and Astros, at opposite ends of the spectrum, are as close to locks as you’ll find in the American League. In the National League Stephen Strasburg gets to pitch a full season for the Nationals and I like them to go to the World Series. But they’ll be challenged in their own division by the rebuilt Atlanta Braves and the Dodgers may have World Series thoughts of their own, but they’ll be challenged in their own division by the Giants. Hence, all things being equal, I’ll take the Nationals. As for the Mets in the National League. You’ll pay $53 a pop for standing room seats at Citi Field to watch a team that’s just thankful they have the Miami Marlins to beat. They won’t beat anyone else. Last, but not least, the American League East. I don’t pick the winner of this division over the Tigers because I don’t know who that will be. The Blue Jays are the flavor of the month while the Orioles are everyone’s favorite to present their greatest obstacle. Tampa Bay and the Yankees are loaded with intangibles, but the Yankees have fewer of them, because they have a more solid rotation, with six pitchers to go into five spots and a bullpen that’s pretty “lock down” on paper. And one thing we do know about the Yankees, they’re one team that will only keep getting better as the season goes on with the returns of Phil Hughes, then Derek Jeter, then Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. If pitching and “small ball” are all everyone said they are when they accused the Yankees of relying too much on the home run, the Yanks should have another run at it in them. If John Lackey has the season Red Sox fans are hoping for, and pundits believe he can, don’t count the Sox out, though a wild card may be a more reachable goal than the division. I will say this about the American League East. It will be the most fun to watch. Ready to play ball in the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.