It is my favorite time of the year, baseball season. I've been waiting all winter to hear the crack of the bats. America's Pastime kicks off its 2008 campaign.
I just love the walk-off hits, the diving catches, and the 0-2 slider. It's time for my nightly fix of Baseball Tonight to see all the Web Gems and find out who Touched 'Em All.
Also, my Brewers have a chance to try again and play meaningful ball in September, and hopefully October.
Their biggest competition comes from the team that's 90 miles south on I-94; the Chicago Cubs. The Brewers-Cubs rivalry is better than ever this year; definitely the 1-2 finishers in the NL Central, but who wins the division?
Let's start with those 'lovable losers from the Windy City.' I'll try to keep my bias on the back-burner for this.
The Cubs have good hitters 1-8; everybody in the lineup can go yard. If Derrek Lee stays healthy, he has the potential to be an MVP candidate. Aramis Ramirez always finds a way to come up with the clutch hit. And who knows if their new acquisition, Kosuke Fukudome, can pan out.
The Cubs have pretty good starting pitching, led by Big Z (Carlos Zambrano), who as always, needs to keep his emotions in check when on the mound.
Their bullpen has great depth with Kerry Wood getting the nod as the closer. I don't think that will last either because he'll get hurt yet again and miss the entire season or he'll continually get shelled, which is why I believe Carlos Marmol will get the job sooner rather than later.
As much as I despise the Cubs and laugh at the fact that they haven't won a World Series in 100 years, they will again try to contend for the division title.
Still, Lou Piniella has a good team in front of him. As a Brewer fan, I'm a little scared of the Cubs. I mean, this whole curse thing has to end eventually, right?
However, I wouldn't be a loyal fan if I didn't say that the Brewers will win it instead. Their weakest point last year was certainly the pitching. Plenty of offseason moves look to have corrected that.
The bullpen has been revamped, with others pondering why take risks on some of these guys (mostly Mota and Gagne). On any given day, the Brewers have four OTHER guys that can close a game; Salomon Torres, Guillermo Mota, Derrick Turnbow, and David Riske.
Ben Sheets needs to do something he hasn't done in three years; STAY HEALTHY. If it's not his back, it's his hamstring, or finger...uggghhh. If he keeps off the DL, he can definitely win 20 games easy.
Anyway you look at, it might just be his last year in a Brewers uniform, though, they have plenty off young, talented, and healthy arms; one of whom will replace Chris Capuano, who is out for the season with Tommy John surgery.
The Brewers will not have a problem scoring runs. They have plenty of power, and they plan to use more speed this year.
Newly signed Mike Cameron will provide great range in the outfield and a veteran presence on and off the field. However, he needs to spend the first 25 games serving a suspension because of a positive drug test for a banned substance.
They have the reigning NL Rookie of the Year in Ryan Braun and the youngest player to hit 50 home runs in a season in Prince Fielder. Ned Yost switched Braun and Fielder in the lineup, making Braun the clean-up man now, daring opposing pitchers to pitch around him and face Braun instead.
For me it's all about the Brewers and Cubs; constantly having to remind Cubs fans that there are 162 games in the season and to commend them on 100 years of losing (cheers).
2007 was 2007. I'm excited to see what happens this year, not only in the NL Central, but all over the world of baseball. I think it's a three-horse race in the NL East (Phillies, Mets and Braves). The NL West has four teams that can win that division (sorry Giants fans).
There are so many good teams in the AL, it's hard to pick the four that win play in October. It's always gonna be the Red Sox-Yanks in the East, this year is no different.
The Central is all about Detroit, opposing pitchers beware. There isn't one break in that line-up. But the Indians were there last year, so don't count them out. I think the White Sox are the dark horse of that division, with so much focus on Detroit.
I think the West is a toss-up. The Angels always seem to be on top, but I think the Mariners will give them a good fight this year.
Will any of these 'predictions' hold up?? If sports teach us anything...no.