From The Press Box
The season is here, even though we just had an abbreviated Spring Training and the CBA negotiations went deep into extra-innings, this will be a full 162-games season. And that is great news. Of all other sports, baseball (without a doubt), offers the most fun when it comes to predictions, there are more games, more ups and downs, more drama and great surprises. So here we go!
The more I look at the Seattle Mariners, the more improvement I see all over their roster. I like what they are doing in “Rain City”. They are already crowning Rookie Julio Rodríguez as the new “J-Rod” as the Rookie of the Year. But I have to go with the Houston Astros, although they lost Carlos Correa to the Twins. Justin Verlander is returning to the mound, this is a veteran team with a good skipper who keeps everybody happy and knows how to win,in Dusty Baker. I would not be surprised if the Mariners win the division. The A’s have a new look and it will be fun watching some of their future stars recently acquired, but they will not be in this race, they will play role of spoilers. Last time A’s were in a Postseason was in 2018. Back to, the Angels line-up (all healthy) might be the most dangerous in baseball, but since Adam and Eve, without pitching nobody has won anything. Noah Syndergaard, aka “Thor” left the Big Apple for the Big A. But the Angelinos need more from the mound. What a waste of a lineup it they do not win; Othani, Trout, Rendon and company. Last time the LA Angels made the playoffs was in 2014. Angels Owner Arturo (Arte) Moreno who spends more money than the US Congress would love nothing more than to be in the postseason. Arte is a good guy. Ay Caramba!
Chicago White Sox
The Minnesota Twins have a scary lineup and a good pitching staff, but the Chicago White Sox. this season are built not only to win this division but to go all the way to the World Series. This will not be a tight race, White Sox by plenty. Last year they won the division by 13 games over Cleveland. There is a team now named the Guardians in Cleveland, they just signed José Ramírez, maybe one of the most underrated players in the game, he finally got paid, a multi-year $124 million contract. But this is LaRussa’s division. We related to each other, Tony and I, were born on exactly thew same day, month and year, about 200 miles apart, Havana-Tampa, and not the cigars! This year is like the old Sinatra classic “My Kind of Town” Chicago!
The Blue Jays might be the team to watch and you cannot close your eyes when you see this team play. They are fun personified. Hard to have more fun than to watch this lineup, their solid pitching and the athleticism is by far the class of this division. They’re young talented stars with some experience and they are going to compete in this always the most watched division in baseball. Tampa Bay Rays will be there and Boston Red Sox could compete all the way into September, they have Alex Cora, at 46 years old one of the most intelligent and accomplished managers in the game. The Yankees always find a way, but they will not win the division, they wanted Frankie Montás of the A’s, and they still might get him, if they are in the race by July-August. If the Yankees win it, that is a surprise. You might get your passport ready, right now, for the postseason because you are not going to the Bronx, you are going to Canada.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers should win this division again with 100 plus wins. Games in the 2021 MLB season were initially played with limited capacity before being gradually increased to full capacity over the course of the season. Dodger Stadium will be rocking again this year between 3 to 3.5 million or more in attendance. That’s a lot of Dodger Dogs. Further south the Bob Melvin Padres will survive a month or so without injured mega-star Fernando Tatís Jr, but they do not have the depth on their roster like the Dodgers, it is a must for Tatís to comeback healthy and stay healthy all season long. I like the Giants rotation, even though they lost Kevin Gausman, they picked up Carlos Rodon, and if he can stay healthy, he will help. Their offense is not as good on paper compared to LA or SD. Giants could have signed Khris Bryant, but he signed with the thin-air Rockies in Colorado. They open the season with their third-baseman, veteran Evan Longoria on the injured list. Attention, Giants fans; do not forget there are more opportunities for a wild card spot this year. But it will be tougher this year to “Beat LA”.
St Louis Cardinals.
For some reason I like the St Louis Cardinals, maybe is because they have the greatest of all baseball uniforms. The reunion between good friends and future Hall of Famers, Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols, might be all the inspiration they need, in a city personally I consider the best, bar-none, for baseball and fans in this country. One of the very best organizations in the game, the Cards always manage to make it interesting. History has it they have won the most World Series in the National League, with eleven, and only the Yankees with 27, have won more in the same city among all teams in history..
NL East:New York Mets
Do we have enough drama in New York? Never! And this season will have more drama as veteran skipper Buck Showalter takes the control as first year manager of the Metropolitanos. The World Champion Atlanta Braves lost their heart and soul, the great first-baseman Freddy Freeman, who was one of the most popular players ever in Atlanta since Larry “Chipper” Jones. They gained A’s Matt Olson so they did not lose much power there. The Bravos won 88 games last year and won the World Series. I see the Mets ascending and like the improved Philadelphia Phillies, it could be a three-team race. When everything is right, the Mets might have the best trio of starters in the game, #1 Jacob DeGrom, #2 Matt Scherzer and #3 Chris Bassitt. Whatever happens, I still Love New York, I lived there after my US Army service and there is no city like it.
To expedite things, let’s go-by the playoffs and land in the World Series.
AL: Toronto Blue Jays
NL: Los Angeles Dodgers
Champion: Toronto Blue Jays