Monday, March 31, 2014

Things We Think We Think About the 2014 Baseball Season

"I'm trying to warn you about Seattle's roster construction, kid."
With Opening Day upon us (not counting proto-opening day, which happened in Australia and which we can only imagine looked like one long Outback Steakhouse commercial up to the moment when Yasiel Puig jumps into a pool to celebrate a victory and gets bitten by a blue-ringed octopus), it is generally time for baseball writers - and, more importantly, writers who know nothing about baseball but feel compelled to comment and/or vote for the Hall of Fame - to unlimber their trusty typewriters and write lengthy pieces previewing the season. We're talking predictions, scouting reports on every team, you name it, all at great length and all likely to be rendered irrelevant by the next injury report.

Seriously. Clayton Kershaw signs gazillion dollar contract, gets hurt. Who saw that coming?
But here at Sportsthodoxy, we're not going to do that. Instead, we're going to tell you what we think will be interesting. Because, frankly, that other stuff is way too much work, and we're much more into the sorts of opinions you develop over a Foothills IPA sitting in the seventh row at a Durham Bulls game.

That being said, we think:

  • That it's going to be Tampa Bay and the Dodgers in the World Series, largely because Detroit seems intent on shooting itself in the foot and there's no way those guys in Boston pull off two in a row. We'd say it would be the Nationals in the NL, except we can't see anyone or anything associated with our nation's capital actually doing anything.
  • That Mike Trout will finally get his AL MVP, not because he plays even better than his last two otherworldly seasons, but because enough writers will be mad over Miguel Cabrera's contract extension to "show" him by voting Trout. (Here's a hint, guys: when the nice man offers you a dump truck full of money to keep doing what you're already doing, You Say Yes.)
  • That Masahiro Tanaka will be as good as advertised starting on his third trip around the league. We also think that Yu Darvish is going to be hurt a big chunk of the season, causing lots of fatuous discussion about the workloads of Japanese pitchers.
  • That the Phillies are going to be worse than a tire fire inside a dumpster parked inside a landfill that is itself on fire which is situated in Centralia, PA, which is itself entirely on fire because some bozo dropped a lit match into a coal mine or some such. OK, maybe they're not going to be quite that bad, but Lord knows, they ain't going to be good. Early betting line for Vegas to jump on: who's gone first - Cliff Lee or Ruben Amaro Jr.?
  • That Prince Fielder is going to lose a lot of weight hitting in the Texas heat. He's also going to hit a ton of bombs, superficially masking the fact that he's getting to the age when players shaped like something Donkey Kong would throw at Mario tend to start falling off a cliff.
  • That there will be a lot of talk about extending Giancarlo Stanton this summer in Miami, and about how he can be the centerpiece for all the amazing young talent the Marlins have coming up. This will last right up until the moment he gets traded to the Yankees.
  • That various people will be upset that at no point have Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg put on Superman costumes and gone off to fight Darkseid. Instead, they will just be very, very good baseball players.
  • That the ongoing saga of the Oakland A's stadium occasionally flooding with sewage will get played for laughs. Because there's nothing funnier than raw sewage in your workplace.
  • That the Chicago Cubs will be better, especially when the monsters from Iowa get promoted.
  • That the New York Mets will be better. Slightly.
  • That the Chicago White Sox will be better and that Jose Abreu is going to hit some serious moonshots. 
  • That Ryan Howard is going to end up platooning, at least for a while, with Darrin Ruf.
  • That the Blue Jays are actually going to have a pretty good year, now that the national media has decided they don't matter any more.
  • That the Astros are going to be better once they stop getting cute with service time for their prospects and decide to let a few of them actually play in Houston.
  • That the Pirates, sadly, are going to be worse. Because pitching. And because first base is still a position where you want someone who can hit the ball.
  • That the Mariners' lineup is going to look like a creature out of an episode of Rick and Morty, because WHAT THE HELL ARE THOSE PEOPLE THINKING?
  • That when all is said and done. Mark Texiera's contract is going to look almost as bad as Ryan Howard's.
  • That this is not going to be the year that Jeff Samardzjia puts it all together. He's on my fantasy team. That's how I know he's doomed. Also: walks.
  • That at some point the haze is going to clear and Giants management is going to realize exactly how much money they're spending on Tim Lincecum. At which point, the screaming will commence.
  • That there will be a ton of chatter about how the players are paid too darn much, steroids, and payroll inequality. Because we're not the only ones who like low-hanging fruit.
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