Friday, April 02, 2010

A Good Friday for Forecasting Pennants

Of all my various passions and pursuits, unless you count eating, sleeping and watching TV, baseball is the one that dates back the farthest. And though I enjoy watching and occasionally attending many athletic events--some more acutely than a random mid-season ballgame between also-rans--baseball is by far my favorite sport in terms of an all-encompassing appreciation. I love the history of baseball, the folklore, the records, the characters, the announcers, the traditions, the strategies and the ballparks.

While I in no way claim to be the world's biggest baseball fan--even among close friends, there are many who are more passionate about teams, more knowledgeable about players and more attentive to daily results--I have particularly enjoyed combining my passion for baseball with my love of travel and photography. As such, I have been to 37 major league baseball stadiums, including 26 of the 30 currently in use (I hope to get to the new Twins park this year, perhaps make it to the New Yankee, which opened last season, and hope both the Marlins and Rays get new stadiums so I don't have to waste time visiting their lousy current ones). I've also been, repeatedly in some cases, to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Louisville Slugger Museum, Negro League Museum, Field of Dreams and a handful of minor league ballparks.

So I'm probably more an expert on ballpark food--though I've never kept track as well as I should have--than knowing how deep the Rangers' bullpen is this year, but still feel compelled to publish my predictions for the 2010 season. And even if they A) seem quite repetitive to last year's results and B) turn out as ridiculous as my prediction that the Bears would make it to the Super Bowl last season or that Kansas would win the NCAA tournament, consider this tidbit shared by ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski in his fine piece analyzing the Cubs and White Sox chances this season:

"Of the 21 ESPN and 13 Sports Illustrated baseball experts who made 2009 preseason predictions, exactly zero people picked a New York Yankees-Philadelphia Phillies World Series. Only five of the 34 picked the Yankees to win it all, the same number who picked the Cubs."

So as proven by many a destitute daily trackside bettor, even the so-called experts often don't know shit. So how off-base can I really be? And thus, here are my fearless predictions for the 2010 season, one in which I don't think either the Cubs nor White Sox will make the playoffs, but though I'm clearly heretical to like both teams, I hope they each win 103 games and meet in the World Series. In which case I would root for the Cubs.

NL Central: Cardinals
NL East: Phillies
NL West: Rockies
NL Wild Card: Giants
NL Pennant: Phillies

AL Central: Twins
AL East: Yankees
AL West: Mariners
AL Wild Card: Red Sox
AL Pennant: Yankees

World Series Champion: Phillies

NL MVP: Ryan Braun, Brewers
NL Cy Young: Josh Johnson, Marlins
NL Rookie of the Year: Jason Heyward (RF), Braves
NL Manager of the Year: Bruce Bochy, Giants

AL MVP: Evan Longoria, Rays
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Mariners
AL Rookie of the Year: Brian Matusz (P), Orioles
AL Manager of the Year: Don Wakamatsu, Mariners

Cubs Wins: 84
White Sox Wins: 86
Most Wins: Phillies 102

NL First Manager Fired: Jerry Manual, Mets
AL First Manager Fired: Ron Washington, Rangers

NL Batting Champ: Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
NL HR Champ: Ryan Howard, Phillies
NL RBI Champ: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
NL Wins Leader: Josh Johnson, Marlins
NL Saves Leader: Francisco Rodriguez, Mets

AL Batting Champ: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
AL HR Champ: Kendry Morales, Angels
AL RBI Champ: Evan Longoria, Rays
AL Wins Leader: Felix Hernandez, Mariners
AL Saves Leader: Mariano Rivera, Yankees

5 Rising Stars not otherwise mentioned: Ubaldo Jimenez (SP), Rockies; Homer Bailey (SP), Reds; Mark Reynolds (3B), Diamondbacks (above); Rafael Soriano (RP), Rays; Franklin Gutierrez (CF), Mariners (picture at top of blog)

Great Baseball Websites:

1. - by far the best site for stats; amazing depth
2. Sports Illustrated - I tend to like their coverage better than ESPN's
3. - Details on all stadiums, including those being proposed, but strangely doesn't seem to be updated since December
4. Yahoo Sports - Easiest place to get scores fast, online or mobile
5. Baseball Prospectus - Great content, some available without a subscription
6. Baseball Digest - Used to get this as a kid; glad to see they still exist in print and online
7. Peter Gammons - He left ESPN but you can find his commentary on and
8. Bruce Levine's Cubs Blog on ESPN - Chicago's best baseball radio reporter for years
9. Baseball America - Coverage goes far beyond the major leagues

And here's a good article on the Best Ballpark Food from Travel & Leisure in May 2009.

Play ball.

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