Editor's Note - This was originally written Thursday night 2 hours into a 4 hour delay at Midway Airport. With no free wireless connection most of the notes were dashed off without second thought. So I apologize for spelling errors and other errors of fact.
So what does one do when they’re stuck at Midway airport for the next four hours and doesn’t feel like paying for wireless access? Well, they come up with a baseball season preview that is based completely on what is stored in my head. That means no fact checking! It’s like writing before the internet was invented when I could just come up with baseless facts! Sweet!
Here we go with the predicting!
The O’s will be in the running to win more games then they lose for the first time since the late ‘90’s (see if I had internet access I could actually check what the last year was - thanks Midway!). I have them pegged for about 84 wins, good enough for fourth in the AL East.
Brian Matusz leads the team with 16 wins, evoking memories of former Oriole left-hander Jeff Ballard. After initially struggling in Norfolk fellow lefty Zack Britton makes his debut in early June and wins 7 games, losing out on at least two wins due to inexplicable bullpen meltdowns.
Five hitters crack the 20 home run barrier with Mark Reynolds pacing the team with 37. He also cracks 200 strikeouts for the fourth year in a row. Nick Markakis finally makes an All Star team and hits .315 and drives in 115. The Baltimore Bombers lead the league in home runs and strikeouts as Buck Showalter merges Buckball with Earl Weaver’s “get one of those big (expletive deleted) who can knock the ball out of the yard” philosophy to entertain a resurgent Camden Yards crowd.
I buy this shirt.
Brian Roberts makes it all the way through the season with only one trip to the disabled list and scores 100 runs. Adam Jones continues to prove the doubters wrong, hits .280 with 21 bombs and only swings at 45% of the sliders in the dirt.
Jake Fox and Felix Pie finish the season on different teams, while Nolan Riemold makes an impression with his June call up. The Catching Jesus settles in behind the plate, strokes a cool .287 with 23 doubles and 17 home runs.
That takes care of the O’s. Let’s see what happens in the rest of the league.
The Cubs make it to the playoffs, but fall short of the World Series. Led by Carlos Zambrano’s 19 wins (he misses a chance for 20 when he’s suspended for a week for trying to knock out Matt Garza) and Carlos Pena’s 42 home runs, the Northsiders keep the city in a frenzy until the weather turns cool.
Albert Pujols re-signs with the Cardinals after the All Star break for a 7 year contract that pays him more than Jeter, but less than Alex Rodriguez.
AL CY Young is CC Sabathia while the Rookie of the Year is Jake McGee who ends up saving 41 games for the surprising Rays. The Rays battle to the end of the year, but get edged out by the Yankees who bolster their staff mid season by adding Felix Hernandez.
The Red Sox fall apart, Carl Crawford fights a high ankle sprain all season and relives the frustration of his lost 2008 season. Terry Francona is fired in August when the Red Sox get massacred by the Yankees and drop out of contention.
The Atlanta Braves mildly shock the baseball world when they take the NL East from the heavily favored Phillies on the last weekend of the season. A healthy Jayson Hayward wins the inaugural Hopeful Chase Super Sophomore Award and Tim Hudson is one of only three major league pitchers to win 20 games (Sabathia and Roy Halladay are the others).
Yankees beat the Braves in a tremendous seven game series to win another title. Mariano Rivera retires and Derek Jeter announces he’s moving to 3rd base next season.
So there ya go.
Tomorrow, SCL Mike makes a triumphant return with his predictions!