Tuesday, March 25, 2008

2008 MLB Preview (Or Why We're All Happy To Have Hank Steinbrenner Around)

There really hasn't been much of a Bronx Zoo around the Yankees over the past decade, mostly because they won every year, Joe Torre somehow kept a calmness around the club, and George Steinbrenner never got riled about anything like he did in the Billy Martin Era. For a while, the Yankees were, dare I say it, classy.

But now things are about to escalate, because as we all know now, there is another Steinbrenner, and Hank just can't stop talking. And this is good for everybody. Hank has already thrown Torre under the bus, called out ESPN for creating "Red Sox Nation" (I actually agree with that), dissed every team that doesn't play in New York or LA, and oh by the way scared A-Rod in a game of chicken that made Alex negotiate a new deal with the Yanks without the all powerful Scott Boras present. Hank also loves cigarettes and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Oh, and he's got a new Manager in Joe Girardi who's obviously got more of Billy Martin in him than he does Joe Torre. Girardi was the guy who pissed off the Florida owners so much that he was fired the same year he was named NL Manager of the Year. All of this alone promises for an interesting summer.

But there's much more to this season than the potential fireworks and the last year at old Yankee Stadium...
  • The Cubs have the potential to be very, very good, and Lou Piniella knows it. Kerry Wood as the closer could make all the difference in the world. Just think how much fun it would have been to watch Harry Carey try to figure out Fukudome. The Cubs should run away with the NL Central, but then what will Sweet Lou do in October?
  • Am I the only one who thinks Albert Pujols and that bad elbow is going to be a problem? The Cardinals look like a mess. Plus they've banned booze from the clubhouse. At Busch Stadium? Screw that.
  • Damn, the Brewers only finished two games behind the Cubs in the NL Central last year? And they think one of the answers is signing Erig Gagne? Plus Prince Fielder is claiming to be a vegetarian. I'm not buying any of it.
  • Raise your hand if you have any clue why Dusty Baker chose to come back and manage the Reds. That said, Baker's taken every club he's managed to the playoffs, and should have won titles with the 2002 Giants and the 2003 Cubs. Which means Cincinnati should at least finish ahead of the Cardinals.
  • The Astros and Pirates. Just visiting this planet. Miguel Tejada will be a huge distraction for Houston. Pittsburgh at least signed Freddy Sanchez to an extension. They could probably get Kent Tukulve to close games for them too.
  • The Mets think all is right in the world since they pulled off the trade for Johan Santana. Something is still missing though, and you can't think they can rebound from that huge choke at the end of last year. (By the way, I love how A-Rod's finally come out and admitted that back in 2000, he wanted to sign a long-term deal with the Mets. Another thing that keeps Yankee fan from falling for him.)
  • Which reminds me of the Phillies, who lucked into the playoffs thanks to the Mets collapse. The Phils had a lot of guys who had career years last year, and they also have a lot of guys who strike out. A LOT. And not enough pitching.
  • It looks like John Smoltz and the Braves have one more good run in them, and Tim Hudson is finally going to have that great year he's supposed to have. I'm taking them in the NL East, and then bow out right away in the NLDS.
  • The Nationals and Marlins aren't even trying. After all the fire sales the Marlins have had, wasn't the Miguel Cabrera/Dontrell Willis gift to the Tigers the ultimate Going Out of Business sign? And now the Tigers just signed Cabrera to an eight-year deal? The Nationals opening day starter is Odalis Perez.
  • Torre trying to work what he did for the Yankees with the Dodgers. His biggest problem is going to be dealing with the potential juggernaut that is the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have a great Manager in Bob Melvin and if the Unit can even come half-way back, they've got a pitching staff that could breeze through October. The DBacks are my early pick to win it all. But we'll at least give LA the Wild Card because that's another carton of cigarettes for Hank Steinbrenner.
  • "Tainted Love", "Come On Eileen", "99 Luftballoons", "Seasons In The Sun". Pick whatever one-hit wonder you want. That's what the Rockies were last year. They shouldn't have even made the playoffs, but rode the wave of that great 163rd extra inning game...
  • ...Against the Padres, who stay in the thick of things every year. They're just so fucking boring.
  • Oh wait, so are the Giants. Barry's shadow isn't going away.
  • If you think the fireworks in the Bronx will be fun, remember how crazy Ozzie Guillen can turn with the White Sox? As is always the case with Ozzie, the Chi Sox are either really flying high or down in the dregs. He'll be fired by July as Hawk Harrelson's "Good Guys" struggle. Hell, Ozzie's even telling the press he SHOULD be fired if the Sox don't win.
  • Wait a second, the Royals all of a sudden have a pulse? New Manager Trey Hillman is going to be a big story this year. Not that Kansas City is going to make a push for October, but they're going to finally be a tougher out than people expect. At least with Dayton Moore in charge, there's a solid plan with the Royals.
  • The Twins will obviously miss Johan, but they're still decent. They won't miss Torii Hunter at all, and oh by the way Minnesota just signed Joe Nathan, who might be the best closer in the bigs, to an extension.
  • Does everyone remember how close Cleveland was to getting to the Series last year? They'll win what will be the best division in baseball. Even if one should never put their faith in an ace who has the body of Cecil Fielder.
  • Jim Leyland will have to manage like the Dickens in Detroit, because he'll have the best of times filling out that lineup card everyday, but smoke more cigarettes than Hank Steinbrenner trying to fill a solid pitching staff.
  • The Red Sox are the safe pick in the East, but they have their own pitching woes and need to make sure Paplebon continues to be Mariano Rivera instead of Mitch Williams (because off the field, Paplebon sure sounds more like the Wild Thing than he does Mo). Manny Ramirez is finally in the last year of that big contract, and you have to figure that's enough to inspire him to go and win the MVP. And then leave Boston next year for something like the Independent League.
  • People keep waiting for Toronto to finally turn the corner and get past either the Yanks or Sox. I keep waiting for my video tape of A Fish Called Wanda from Bsmoked to arrive in the mail.
  • This Yankee run HAS to end sometime soon, doesn't it? The handling of Joba will be crucial, and we'll hear all about all things with "Yankee Nation" all year long. I'd love nothing more than to see them stumble badly, but they'll hang around like they always do. Fuckers.
  • Tampa Bay will create a buzz the first time they play the Yankees because of Girardi making such a fuss about that spring training game. And then we'll never hear about the "Rays" again.
  • As Joe Cabot would say in Reservoir Dogs, the Orioles are as dead as Dillinger.
  • Felix Hernandez puts together a Cy Young season, and the rest of their great pitching is enough to lead Seattle to the AL West title.
  • All of the experts are saying the Angels are a shoo-in to win the West. Like the Mets, there seems to be something missing here. They should have never traded Orlando Cabrera.
  • Uh oh, the A's have former Royal headaches Emil Brown and Mike Sweeney. Not a good sign, and nobody can figure out what that Rascally Rabbit Billy Beane is up to. Which just proves Beane knows more than the rest of us. Even if they're rebuilding -- which they clearly are -- you can't rule Beane out.
  • Milton Bradley will at least create some headlines for the Rangers. But nothing they do can move the Cowboys from the front page.


TravisRoastBeef said...

I will take: Boston, Yankees, Mets, Indians, Cubs, Tigers and Angels. You take the rest of the field

Dirtylaundry said...

So that would mean I'd get the Dbacks???


TravisRoastBeef said...

and the Dodgers and the Blair Hammerheads.

Dirtylaundry said...

Oh -- and I have Seattle baby.