It was a very quiet day at the shop. Guess all the fans were out enjoying the sunny day. After all, it was late March, and just about a week away from Opening Day for the baseball season.
Local card collector Clem had stopped by for his daily visit. He noticed the lack of customers, and set out to do something about it. His idea was to install a Suggestion Box, "Let's put it right here by the front door, that way they will all see it," said Clem.
The shops owner, Owen, was in deep thought. Something about watching Obama on television the previous night. Clem was not to be denied, and was soon right in Owens face with his newest idea to save the Shop
Owen is a pretty sharp guy in his own right. Within minutes, he had what he felt was the solution. Not a Suggestion Box, but a Question Box. Four hours later, we closed the Shop for the day with a brand new Question Box on the wall, right next to the entrance door. And then the fun began.
Within days, that Box was chock full. Owen had a new problem. Sure, business was up as the customers made daily visits to drop the questions in the Box, and on occasion buy a card or two. But who was going to answer all those questions?
That's where I came in. Owen called Clem. Clem called me. I was the local area sports expert. For a paltry sum, it was my job to answer all those questions. Thanks God it was baseball season, that is my specialty. This was gonna be fun.
And so it started! The first question out of the Box involved Jacoby Ellsbury. The fan asked, "Will Ellsbury steal more than the 50 bases he grabbed in his rookie season for the Red Sox?"
That answer seemed so easy, "He will be getting more playing time this year. Coco Crisp was sent to Kansas City. Ellsbury can pilfer somewhere between 65 and 70 bases with ease this season."
And I was very sure that that answer was correct.
Next, a Yankees fan wanted to know who would play right field come opening day? This was a tad tougher to handle. Lets see, they got Xavier Nady, a decent hitter, with a rather low On-Base Percentage.
Or they could start that Swisher kid they got from the White Sox. But he couldn't hit the ball out of his hand last season. Talk about bad. This guy was terrible. Maybe they could slide Cabrera over from Center Field, that seemed like the best idea to me.
But my final answer was, "Nady, they will start Nady, and probably deal for a better hitter by mid-season. That is my answer, and I'm sticking with it.
A west-coast fan wanted some information on Jason Giambi's return to Oakland. "Will the big guy ever return to those former glory days?"
Now I am, and have always been, a big Giambo backer. I love the way he plays the game. His intensity level is among the highest in the league. And for this reason alone, I replied, "I see Jason having a huge season for those revamped Athletics."
I do believe that answer is also correct.
A rather rabid Atlanta Brave fan was next in line, by now those fans had crowded the tiny shop, and it had become a live session. I was really in the line of fire now. "What does the Braves Pitching rotation look like with a week to go?"
I was hot, I knew that Vasquez and Lowe provided the Braves with plenty of innings, and a goodly amount of strikeouts. Unfortunately, the Braves would have to score 4-5 or six runs a game to carry them.
Tim Hudson is on the sidelines, due to injury, then they got guys named Jurrjens ( a sleeper), and Kawakami. My answer was simple and straight forward, they are about two pitchers short of success if they don't make any moves. And, in my opinion, a very overrated Manager.
The final question on this day was perhaps the best.
The fan, Wally from Washington asked, "What city has the worst team in the Major leagues this season?" I immediately thought to myself, that's a pretty easy question. I was sure those Washington Nationals had to be, by far, just a terrible team.
Looking at that pathetic roster, it was apparent they were below average at Catcher, Pitcher, Second, Shortstop, and Right Field. Matter of fast, that pitching staff has to be the worst in the bigs, for sure.
But then again, the San Diego Padres ain't no great shakes. Behind Jake Peavy, their pitching staff is on life support. Catcher, Second, Third, Short, and all around the Outfield, this team is a disaster.
The Pirates are a tad better this season,with this new star McLouth heading up the offense. Colorado is heading in the wrong direction. They have done nothing to shore up a fading pitching staff. Helton is aging quickly. This team is surely a non-contender this season. Believe me, I am sure.
The Rangers will score some runs, not as many as in past years. You can write them off right now. Those Seattle Mariners continue to rob their fans with the poor product they put out on the field every year.
Thanks God for Ichiro, He is worth the price of admission. Imagine this, they sign a washed up Ken Griffey Jr, and immediately install him as the starting Left Fielder. That is so sad!
On the bright side, long time doormats, the Kansas City Royals, are now on the move. They are a little short in the Pitching department behind Meche and Greinke. Joakim Soria is a bona fide Closer. Crisp will help their running game. Aviles is a promising prospect. Guillen is a steady hitter around the .280-.290 mark.
So with all that information presented, the answer to Wally's question seemed quite simple. The worst team(s) in baseball this season will be San Diego, Colorado, Seattle, Washington, or maybe Pittsburgh.
That ended the Question and Answers session for the day. I had cleared the first obstacle in my new career. But as Owen noted, "You're not out of the woods yet. They will be back tomorrow."
And I'm sure of that. I grabbed a stack of baseball magazines, and prepared for an evening of study. I have to be ready. Because I'm the Answer Man.
See You all tomorrow.