Let’s think back to a simpler time, back when Game of Thrones had less budget. Back then, instead of The Battle of Winterfell, we got stuff like this.
It’s opening day! Let’s do a little prognosticating.
AL EAST – Boston Red Sox
Baltimore and Toronto aren’t going to be good, so this is a conversation about three teams.
The trouble for Tampa Bay is, as always, that they’re a small market team playing in the same division as two of the biggest market, most storied franchises in the MLB. They’re going to be “better than you think,” but they don’t have the firepower to keep up.
I take Boston over the Yankees because I think they are a more complete baseball team. The Yankees are going to hit a ton of homers, and their bullpen is going to shut teams down. They’re going to win a lot of games.
But Boston has a deeper rotation, an outfield that is better defensively and still puts up offense, and at least as good an infield. If both teams are healthy, I think this goes the same way as last year: A great division race that Boston edges out.
AL CENTRAL – Cleveland Indians
AL WEST – Houston Astros
This is also an easy one. Everyone else in the division has pieces, but Houston has the most complete team in baseball.
NL EAST – Atlanta Braves
With apologies to the NL Central (we’ll get there in a moment) this is the toughest division to call this year.
We can, of course, safely say that Miami will not win the division. In fact, it might be a safer bet to predict they won’t win a single game within their division than it would be to pick the Marlins to come out of the NL East this year.
I’m going with the Braves because for all the big moves that happened this offseason, everything still has to be proven on the field. Atlanta won the division by eight games last year. Their record wasn’t sparkling, but their competition was literally middle-of-the-road. Yes, the Phillies, Nationals, and Mets added impact players. But at the same time, Atlanta’s young core has a year of experience now, and a few new veterans to fill in the gaps.
Maybe the Mets’ or Nationals’ killer rotations are healthy all season. Maybe the Phillies’ lineup beats teams into submission while their top-heavy rotation does enough to be competitive. For now, though, the Braves have earned the title of division favorites.
NL Central – Chicago Cubs
While the NL East is a legitimate four team race, the NL Central is right behind at a three-and-a-half team race, meaning that everything has to go right for the Reds, but they could come out of the dogpile.
I’m picking Chicago, though, because things rarely all go right in an MLB season. Chicago has question marks in their rotation – they need a bounce-back year from Yu Darvish and for Cole Hamels and Jon Lester to keep fighting off age – but they have more total talent on their roster than Milwaukee or St. Louis. I think Yasmani Grandal is going to have an exceptional year for Milwaukee, and the Cardinals’ addition of Paul Goldschmidt might give them the best infield in the division, but the Cubs look just a little better from top to bottom.
NL WEST – Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers had a bad offseason. I don’t understand essentially trading Yasiel Puig and starting pitching depth for AJ Pollock. I don’t understand letting Yasmani Grandal walk.
Even considering that, however, the Dodgers look like a powerhouse. They still have seven pitchers who are legitimate rotation members, which is probably necessary given the injury history of several of them, including more recently and most worryingly Clayton Kershaw. Plus, Corey Seager coming back from injury sounds like a net upgrade from Manny Machado to me when you consider his defense.
Colorado is an interesting challenger once again, but this is what it has been for some time now: the Dodgers’ division to lose.
AL WILD CARDS – New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins
As discussed above, the Yankees should be one of the best teams in the AL. That leaves one wild card that will probably come down to the Twins, A’s, Rays, and Angels.
I choose to believe that the Twins’ breakout year has come, in part because none of the other teams particularly impress me and if the Twins are even decent, they’ll get to beat up on their own division a lot more than any of the other teams will.
NL WILD CARDS – Colorado Rockies, Washington Nationals
In part, picking the NL wild card teams this year comes down to doing the math about just how competitive you think the East and Central are going to be. Across those two divisions, there are 7-8 entirely legitimate choices to fill four playoff slots.
Except that I’ve only filled three playoff spots with those teams.
To be honest, my calculus here is suspect. I picked Washington despite the fact that they play in what’s likely to be the most competitive division this year, meaning they’re going to have to be extra good. But I like more of their roster than I do St. Louis’, Milwaukee’s, New York’s, or Philadelphia’s. The margin is razor-thin, but once again, I’ll go with the team that looks slightly more complete and well-rounded than the others.
Colorado, meanwhile, will have the benefit of a slightly easier schedule, and I think the East and Central teams are going to be so closely bunched that it’s enough for a talented, if flawed, Rockies team to make the playoffs.
ALCS – Astros 4-2 over Red Sox
I’m sticking with the two most talented teams in the league to make it to the LCS. Like 2018, I expect an amazing, competitive series, but I’ll take the Astros to advance to their second World Series appearance in three years.
NLCS – Dodgers 4-1 over Braves
I was inclined, at first, to pick a team from the NL East or Central to win the NLCS on the premise that coming out of that competitive cauldron would make a team ready to storm through the playoffs.
I still won’t be surprised if that happens, but it’s hard to pick against the Dodgers if they’re healthy. At worst they will match evenly against their opponent, position by position, and have more situational flexibility because so many players on their roster can field multiple positions.
WORLD SERIES – Astros 4-2 over Dodgers
Yes, I’m predicting that the Dodgers lose a third consecutive World Series. That’s a gut punch. The fact remains, however, that the Astros have a better roster than anyone in the majors. A lot can change over the course of an MLB season, but as it stands right now, you have to be bucking the odds to pick against them.
They should still probably shell out to keep Dallas Keuchel and/or sign Craig Kimbrel to make sure they really do have as much talent on roster as they possibly can, but the weaknesses in this team are smaller., and that counts for something.
So it was announced yesterday that singer/Disney Channel star Zendaya will play Peter Parker’s best-known love interest, Mary Jane Watson, in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Zendaya looks like this:
And Mary Jane traditionally looks like this: Continue reading “Zendaya is Mary Jane: A Philosophical Musing Prompted By Reddit”
A juggernaut on the march
An alliance born
The Force shall fight on
This our sacrifice
Because the Death Star cometh
And so, too, our doom.
I recently read an article arguing that Christians need to realize we’re (because I myself number among the “Christians,” which is why I’m so interested in discussing this) in the middle of a massive war between the divine and the demonic, and we need to buck up and fall in line for battle. Continue reading “No, Christians, We’re Not At War (At Least Not Like This)”
I just decided: I’m probably not going to see X-Men: Apocalypse. Not in an, “I’ll never watch that dreck,” sort of way. I have, after all, seen all three of the four Transformers films, and we knew what that was after the first one. But not in theaters.
There wasn’t a guarantee I was going to, but here’s the sentence that sealed it: “Here is a movie that gets the details right while getting the big stuff — pacing, emotional investment, dialogue — largely wrong.” (via NPR) Continue reading “I’m Probably Not Going to See X-Men: Apocalypse”