You can't slow it down, much less stop it from arriving.
No matter how much you fight it, "It's Goin' Down" in less than a week.
"It," of course is the start of the 2013 MLB regular season, where the games count and, for the most part, legitimate major league talent is on the field at all times.
When it comes to each team's schedule to start the season, reactions vary. Some teams face a relatively easy path into May, while others will have to fight and claw their way to a .500 record at the end of the season's first month.
For others, picking up a handful of victories is really all that can be expected, as a brutal April schedule awaits.
Yet no matter what lies ahead, there isn't a team in the league that isn't looking forward to hearing two words that, when combined, form one of the sweetest sounds imaginable: the umpire's cry of, "Play ball!" in front of their home fans.
Here's a look at what each team in baseball can expect over the first month of the season—and since we're on the topic of sweet sounds, let's see if we can't find a song (in title at least) that accurately depicts how things will unfold.
Prediction: Arizona's offseason "Changes" will pay off.
While nine of Arizona's first 12 games will be played at Chase Field, only three of them come against a team that finished below .500 in 2012; the Pittsburgh Pirates—a team that held a 4-3 advantage over Arizona in games between the two squads last season.
Two of the team's three starting outfielders are likely to be watching Opening Day from the sidelines. Center fielder Adam Eaton is guaranteed to be out of action, as he will miss the entire month—probably two—due to an injured left elbow.
Right fielder Cody Ross, with a strained calf, tells anyone who will listen that he's aiming to be on the field for the team's first pitch of the season, but it's far more likely that Ross joins Eaton on the disabled list, something Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic believes is inevitable.
Despite injuries to two key pieces of the lineup, Arizona has the pitching and depth to weather the storm until the duo returns to action. Many of the team's April opponents—especially the Yankees—are in equal or worse shape than the Diamondbacks are on the injury front, and that bodes well for April success for the D-Backs.
Click here for Arizona's full April schedule.
Justin and B.J. Upton.
Prediction: While "The Times, They Are A-Changin'" in Atlanta, the Braves remain an elite team in the National League.
Atlanta starts the season off with a six-game homestand against the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs—and then spend 19 of the next 23 days on the road.
Despite having to be road warriors early in the season, when you consider the opponents that Atlanta will be taking on—only two teams on the Braves' early schedule had a record above .500 in 2012—finding success away from home isn't anywhere near as daunting a task as it would be for a lesser squad.
Look for the era of the Upton brothers in Atlanta to start strong.
Click here for Atlanta's full April schedule.
Prediction: The Orioles will keep hope alive that they can "Do It Again" in 2013.
If Baltimore plans on repeating its success from 2012, the Orioles must get off to a strong start in 2013. Nine of Baltimore's first 12 games—and 15 of the team's first 26—come against AL East competition, a division that will be hotly contested all season.
Despite losing designated hitter Wilson Betemit with a torn PCL in his right knee—possibly for the season—Baltimore has enough weapons on offense to put runs on the board. If Brian Roberts can stay healthy, the top of the team's lineup will be drastically improved from a year ago.
Baltimore's starting rotation—four-fifths of it anyway (I am not a believer in Jake Arrieta)—can keep the score close enough for the bullpen, which remains one of the best in baseball, to come in and shut down the opposition.
The Orioles had great success against the teams that fill their April schedule in 2012, going 60-37, a figure that includes a 43-29 mark against division foes. Repeating that level of success in 2013 isn't likely, but the Orioles will still finish the month with a winning record.
Click here for Baltimore's full April schedule.
Jackie Bradley Jr..
Prediction: Boston continues "Truckin'" along, beginning to make 2012 a distant memory.
Boston struggled against everyone last season, so it's no surprise to find that Boston's record against its April competition was a woeful 36-60 in 2012.
With the team's first 13 games coming against the rest of the AL East—New York and Toronto on the road, Baltimore and Tampa Bay at home—Boston has a chance to make a definitive statement that the Red Sox are not to be overlooked in a wide open race for the division.
While the Red Sox host the hapless Houston Astros for four games towards the end of the month, the rest of April is full of teams fully capable of shutting down the Boston attack, especially with both David Ortiz and Stephen Drew likely to start the season on the disabled list.
Shane Victorino, one of the team's big offseason acquisitions, looks lost at the plate and very much like a player who doesn't have much left to offer.
Jackie Bradley Jr. should provide a spark in the lineup (assuming Boston makes the correct decision and starts him in left field), while a full season of Will Middlebrooks should help with the team's run production from the middle of the lineup.
Things are starting to look up in Beantown—but the team will still struggle at the start of the 2013 season.
Click here for Boston's full April schedule.
Prediction: Chicago continues to preach "Patience" to a fanbase that is foaming at the mouth to cheer for a contender.
It's the second year of the rebuilding process in Chicago, and while things are starting to look up, the Cubs still have plenty of work to do with the roster before the team can think about contending in the National League.
The top half of the lineup—David DeJesus, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano—will put runs on the board for the Cubs, and Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson are capable starters at the front of the rotation.
But both the talent level and production drops off precipitously after that in both areas, while the bullpen remains mediocre at best.
Chicago's April schedule is tough, and includes a 19-game stretch against Atlanta, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, San Francisco and Texas that will find the Cubs losing far more often than they win.
Things ease up at the end of the month, with four games against Miami and the start of a series with San Diego, but it's going to be painful for Cubs fans until the team reaches that point.
Click here for Chicago's full April schedule.
Prediction: Chicago will "Hit the Ground Running."
Only nine of Chicago's first 27 games come against teams that finished the 2012 season with a record better than .500, giving the White Sox—on paper at least—one of the easier schedules in April of any team in baseball.
But it's only on paper.
Both Cleveland and Toronto, whom the White Sox face 10 times over a two-week stretch in the middle of the month, are significantly improved from a year ago. Chicago went a combined 17-11 against the two squads last year, a record that will be difficult for the team to match in 2013.
That said, Chicago returns a solid lineup, anchored by Paul Konerko and a quality pitching staff, led by young flamethrower Chris Sale.
It would be surprising if the White Sox weren't close to the top of the AL Central standings when the calendars turn to May.
Click here for Chicago's full April schedule.
Prediction: Cincinnati makes people believe that "U Can't Touch This."
Cincinnati's first nine games of the season are as tough as any team in baseball faces, with consecutive three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals, the latter two owning a combined 13-9 record against the Reds in 2012.
But the Reds are improved from a year ago, with the addition of on-base machine Shin-Soo Choo at the top of a potent lineup the biggest difference between then and now—and a key reason why the Reds will emerge from the first part of the season with a record above .500.
That leads into a 13-game stretch against the likes of Chicago (NL), Miami, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, teams that don't figure to give the Reds much of a problem.
Look for the Reds to get out of the gate early in 2013, finishing the month with a multi-game lead in the NL Central.
Click here for Cincinnati's full April schedule.
Prediction: Faith in Cleveland's starting rotation will amount to nothing more than "Livin' On A Prayer."
With a mix of young stars (Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis) to go along with established veterans (Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher), the Indians enter 2013 with a lineup that is not to be taken lightly.
Unfortunately, the bulk of a starting rotation that went 48-76 with a 5.25 ERA and AL-worst 1.51 ERA remains, with Brett Myers and Scott Kazmir as the only notable additions to the mix.
While Myers is a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm, the Indians are taking a real risk with Kazmir, who hasn't been an effective major league starter since 2008 and has faced a total of 14 major league batters since 2010.
Of Cleveland's first 16 games of the season, 13 come against the AL East—and while the Indians have the offensive firepower to hang with the best that division has to offer, there's little reason to think that the starting rotation can get the ball into the capable hands of the team's bullpen with a lead.
That will make for a long opening month in Cleveland.
Click here for Cleveland's full April schedule.
Prediction: "Here It Goes Again," as Colorado's starting rotation costs the team dearly—again.
It's never a question of offense in Colorado, which boasts a lineup featuring big-time studs in Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez and solid complementary pieces in Dexter Fowler and Wilin Rosario.
The Rockies are going to score runs—but as has been the case for years, the starting rotation will surrender more than the team's offense can put on the board.
April finds Colorado with 10 games against the New York Mets and San Diego Padres, two clubs that the team should be able to find success against.
But the rest of the month is full of formidable challenges, especially the last two weeks, which finds Colorado taking on Arizona, Atlanta and Los Angeles (NL), against whom the Rockies went 17-26 in 2012.
All three of those clubs are improved from a year ago—Colorado is not, and that fact will find the Rockies under .500 at the end of the month, setting the wrong tone for the rest of the season.
Click here for Colorado's full April schedule.
With arguably the best hitter (Miguel Cabrera) and pitcher (Justin Verlander) on the planet, what might be the best lineup, top to bottom, in baseball and an excellent starting rotation, there's not much to dislike about Detroit heading into the season's first month.
Detroit opens with a three-game series against Minnesota and then takes on an injury-depleted Yankees squad before meeting its first real challenge of the season in the Toronto Blue Jays.
Games against Seattle and Kansas City, while both teams are improved from a year ago, don't figure to be too difficult for a supremely talented Tigers roster. Atlanta and Los Angeles (AL) will test Detroit, but all things considered, the Tigers are in great shape to get off to a quick start in 2013.
Click here for Detroit's full April schedule.
Prediction: The "Summertime Blues" will come early to Houston.
There's just no way around it—Houston is not going to enjoy playing in the American League in 2013.
With the possible exception of six games against the Seattle Mariners and three against the Cleveland Indians, there isn't a winnable series on the schedule for the Astros, a team in the midst of a rebuilding process that has its most talented players filling the rosters of minor league teams around the country.
Newcomers like Chris Carter and Carlos Peña will provide some much needed pop in the lineup, but Houston simply doesn't have the talent on its roster that is necessary to win on even a semi-regular basis.
The Astros will pick up some wins here and there, but it's entirely possible that the team finds itself trailing in the AL West by double digits by the end of April.
Click here for Houston's full April schedule.
Prediction: Kansas City will prove that "The Kids Are Alright."
If Kansas City, with a lineup full of young, up-and-coming talent, is going to take the next step as a team, it must do so in April, before a brutal stretch of games kicks in.
From April 30 to June 2, the Royals will play 29-of-32 games against teams that had records over .500 last year. From April 1 to April 29? Only eight of the team's 24 games are against clubs that had a winning record in 2012.
With a vastly improved starting rotation led by James Shields and first baseman Eric Hosmer looking every bit like the stud, middle-of-the-order bat people thought he was in 2011, look for the Royals to surprise people and finish the month above .500.
Click here for Kansas City's full April schedule.
Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.
Prediction: "Expectations" won't be met in April.
After signing Josh Hamilton over the winter, the Los Angeles Angels enter 2013 very much as the team did in 2012, with big expectations from both ownership and the fans.
While I'm not predicting as brutal a start to the season as the Angels dealt with in 2012, the team will fall short of meeting those gaudy expectations in April, despite having three of baseball's most potent bats in its lineup with Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mike Trout.
It's foolish to put too much stock into spring training statistics, but the fact that Joe Blanton was the only member of the rotation to post an ERA below 4.70 in exhibition play is concerning, especially with the potent offenses that the group will be facing in April.
Cincinnati, Detroit and Texas can all hang with Los Angeles' potent offensive attack, and with that trio comprising nearly half of the Angels' April schedule, the team's pitching woes could sabotage any chance they have at a strong start to the season.
Click here for Los Angeles' full April schedule.
Prediction: The Dodgers will "Overcome" adversity.
It's become commonplace to refer to the Los Angeles Dodgers as the "New York Yankees of the West," and that analogy fits more than ever heading into the 2013 season.
Not only do both teams have two of the highest payrolls in baseball, but both squads head into the season's first month missing key players from the roster.
The Dodgers will definitely be without Hanley Ramirez, while Carl Crawford and Zack Greinke could very well join Ramirez on the disabled list to start the year.
Fortunately for the Dodgers, the team has four days off in April and play 14 of their first 26 games at home, with only 12 of those coming against teams that finished 2012 with a .500 record or better.
With Clayton Kershaw leading the rotation and the trio of Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the middle of the lineup, the Dodgers will come out of April in good shape just as its injured stars near a return to action.
Click here for Los Angeles' full April schedule.
Prediction: Miami will feel buyer's remorse after shopping at baseball's "Thrift Shop" this winter.
Miami isn't quite at the level of ineptitude that we will see from Houston in 2013, but it's pretty close.
After Giancarlo Stanton, Rob Brantly and Ricky Nolasco (and a reliever or two), Miami's roster is comprised of over-the-hill veterans, mediocre role players and young, unproven talent.
With 15 consecutive games against NL East competition to start the season—and two more against the New York Mets to end the month, Miami is likely to be staring at a double-digit deficit in the division when April mercifully comes to an end.
Unfortunately for the Marlins, there will still be five full months of the season left to play.
Click here for Miami's full April schedule.
Prediction: The sausage races won't be the only "Hot Stuff' at Miller Park in April.
Despite opening the season without Corey Hart in the lineup, Milwaukee boasts one of the most productive lineups in baseball, led by perennial MVP candidate Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez.
With the team's addition of Kyle Lohse to the starting rotation, not only has Milwaukee's pitching staff gotten significantly better than it was a few days ago, but Lohse will provide skipper Ron Roenicke with length, allowing the team to not rely on a bullpen that faltered under pressure in 2012.
Of the team's 26 games in April, 14 come against NL teams that aren't going to contend in 2013 (Chicago and San Diego) or teams that are on the fringes of being contenders but fall just short, like Pittsburgh.
That bodes well for Milwaukee to get off to a hot start, keeping pace with Cincinnati in the NL Central.
Click here for Milwaukee's full April schedule.
Prediction: Minnesota will struggle to keep things "Respectable" in April.
While the Twins still have Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham sitting in the middle of its lineup and added Vance Worley to lead the starting rotation, Minnesota simply doesn't have the starting pitching to hang with the upper echelon teams in the American League.
With a dozen games against teams that made the playoffs in 2012 and another nine against teams expected to contend once again in 2013, the Twins face a formidable challenge in 21 of their first 26 games.
With journeyman Kevin Correia the team's No. 2 starter, followed by Mike Pelfrey, Liam Hendriks and Cole De Vries—not exactly household names—things have a chance to get ugly quickly in Minnesota.
Thankfully for the Twins, the team has enough offense to squeak out a few wins here-and-there that nobody expects the group to pick up, saving the club from a truly embarrassing opening month.
Click here for Minnesota's full April schedule.
Prediction: "Captain America" will lead the Mets to a winning record in April.
Currently battling a strained left intercostal muscle, David Wright has his sights set on playing Opening Day for the New York Mets against the San Diego Padres.
I'm not about to doubt the captain.
With 15 of the team's first 27 games coming against lower-level clubs (Colorado and San Diego, for example,) the Mets have a legitimate chance to defy the prognosticators and experts, finishing April with a record above .500.
Early success won't lead to another "Miracle Mets" season, but the Mets will give their fans a reason to come out to Citi Field early this year.
Click here for New York's full April schedule.
Prediction: The Yankees won't have another player say "Take Me to the Hospital."
No team in baseball has been hit as hard by the injury bug as the New York Yankees.
The team knew that it would be without Michael Piñeda and Alex Rodriguez heading into spring training, but it departs exhibition play with Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and, very likely, Phil Hughes and Derek Jeter joining the pair on the disabled list.
Not suffering another injury will be the team's primary objective once the regular season starts, and, knock on wood, I believe that they'll weather the storm—both on the field and in the trainer's room.
Despite missing nearly half of its projected starting lineup, the Yankees have enough firepower left in the lineup to cause some problems for the opposition. With its starting rotation and bullpen nearly intact, the Yankees should be able to keep things close and pull out some wins.
While only two teams on the Yankees April schedule—Baltimore and Detroit—made the playoffs in 2012, every team that the Bronx Bombers will face has improved, with the exception of the Houston Astros.
It won't be pretty and it may only be by a game or two, but the Yankees will finish the month with a winning record.
Click here for New York's full April schedule.
Prediction: Oakland's early success wont travel the "Long and Winding Road" to month's end.
Of Oakland's first 16 games in April, 10 will come against either the Houston Astros or Seattle Mariners.
While the A's will be riding high heading into Game No. 17, a trio of AL East teams (Baltimore, Boston and Tampa Bay) await them, followed up by a month-ending series against division rival Los Angeles.
Oakland gets out of April with a .500 record and hopes of repeating last year's unexpected success alive and well.
Click here for Oakland's full April schedule.
Prediction: Philadelphia will look "Stronger" than anyone expects it will.
Despite legitimate concerns about Roy Halladay, who hasn't looked like his former Cy Young-contending self in over a year, Philadelphia is positioned to get off to a terrific start in 2013.
Not only do the Phillies avoid contenders like Milwaukee, San Francisco and Washington, but only three teams that made the playoffs last year appear on their April calendar: Atlanta, Cincinnati and St. Louis.
Healthy for Opening Day—something Philadelphia couldn't claim in 2012—the Phillies will finish April looking like the perennial contender that we've come to expect.
Click here for Philadelphia's full April schedule.
Prediction: "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" is a question that will be asked from multiple members of the team to the baseball gods.
In each of the past two seasons, Pittsburgh has flirted with ending its 20-year absence from the playoffs, only to fall apart down the stretch.
After navigating the schedule they face in April, ending that drought will be the last things on the team's mind—getting back to .500 will be a daunting enough task.
Things start out well enough with a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs. That's the last time Pittsburgh faces a non-contending team for the rest of the month.
The Pirates play 25 consecutive games against teams that either made the playoffs in 2012 or came close to doing so, including six versus St. Louis and four against Atlanta.
Pittsburgh is going to struggle mightily over the season's first month.
Click here for Pittsburgh's full April schedule.
Prediction: San Diego's youngsters will remind fans that "Our Time Is Coming"—just not in 2013.
San Diego just doesn't have the starting pitching to contend in 2013, something that will become evident as the team will spend nearly half of April battling the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
While games against Colorado and Chicago (NL) will help the Padres pick up some series victories, even that will be difficult, seeing as how the team's best player, Chase Headley, is expected to miss the entire month as he recovers from a fractured left thumb.
That said, the Padres have a solid young core of talent to build around, and those players, namely Yonder Alonso and Jedd Gyorko, will produce in April, giving the Padres and their fans hope for the future.
Click here for San Diego's full April schedule.
Prediction: Buster Posey and friends will remind all comers that "We Are the Champions" for a reason.
World Series champions for the second time in three years, the San Francisco Giants spend the bulk of April taking on the rest of the NL West, with 17 of the team's 26 games in April against division rivals—a group that the Giants went 45-27 against in 2012.
If we learned anything in 2012, it's that you cannot count the Giants out until the game is over. As resilient a team as there is in baseball, San Francisco will begin its title defense with a strong opening round, finishing April exactly where they ended the regular season last year—atop the NL West.
Click here for San Francisco's full April schedule.
Prediction: Believers in Seattle's spring training offensive numbers will be exposed as nothing more than a "Fool In the Rain."
To the chagrin of Mariners fans everywhere, Seattle's offensive explosion in spring training—the team's 188 runs scored rank third in all of baseball according to MLB.com—isn't going to last.
Collectively, the Mariners are drawing a walk only seven percent of the time that they step into the batter's box, while striking out nearly 25 percent of the time. That simply isn't going to fly during the regular season, and there's no reason to believe that the Mariners' big bats can adapt.
That's a major problem, as Seattle faces a contending team in nearly every game that it will play in April, including four against Oakland and seven versus Texas. With the exception of a pair of three-game series against Houston, Seattle simply doesn't get a break in April.
Click here for Seattle's full April schedule.
Prediction: St. Louis proves that it's "Tough Enough" to hang with the other contenders in the NL.
St. Louis doesn't get a "break" in its April schedule until the team's sixth series of the month against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and that's not much of a break when you consider that the Pirates held the edge in the season series last year, 8-7.
It will be an up-and-down month for Yadier Molina and the Cardinals, but when we hit May 1, St. Louis will have a winning record and have picked up victories against many of its competitors for a playoff berth in 2013.
Click here for St. Louis' full April schedule.
Prediction: The Rays remind everyone that their "Fins" will be in the playoff waters all season long.
Tampa Bay avoids having to play Detroit or Los Angeles (AL) in April, but that doesn't make the team's schedule any easier.
Nearly every team it will face can be considered a contender in the American League, and the Rays head into the regular season without "Big Game" James Shields in the rotation for the first time since 2007.
Yet Tampa Bay still has David Price at the front of the rotation, Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist in the middle of the lineup, and Joe Maddon at the controls of the team.
Every year, the knock against the Rays is that the team doesn't have enough offense to contend—and every year, the Rays are there at the end, in contention.
Tampa Bay will hold their own against the contenders—and pretenders—that take the field against them in April, finishing the month above .500.
Click here for Tampa Bay's full April schedule.
Prediction: Ron Washington and his club embrace the doubters, encouraging them to "Bring the Noise."
After losing Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli as free agents and failing to land either Zack Greinke or Justin Upton, many have questioned whether the Texas Rangers are really contenders in 2013.
With an April schedule that sees the Rangers play only 10 games against contenders while taking on the likes of Chicago (NL), Houston, Minnesota and Seattle, Texas will find itself atop the AL West at the end of the month.
Considering the team's schedule, early season success won't quiet the doubters—but it'll give the Rangers a jump on the rest of the division.
Click here for Texas' full April schedule.
Prediction: Toronto informs the American League what many already believe—"Your Time Is Up", our time is now.
Toronto went out and acquired nearly anyone that had any major league talent on the Miami Marlins this winter, making it clear that they were making a run at not only a wide open AL East, but at the AL Pennant as well.
Adding Emilio Bonifacio, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes to a team that already included Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie makes the Blue Jays the clear favorite to win the division heading into the season.
They'll get a chance to test their skills against contenders for the entire month of April, including 14 games against division rivals.
Toronto will be sitting atop the AL East by the time the calendars flip over to May.
Click here for Toronto's full April schedule.
Prediction: "The Distance" that Washington hopes to put between itself and the rest of the NL East won't materialize in April.
While the Nationals added the center fielder it needed in Denard Span and enters 2013 with a full season of Bryce Harper ahead of them, early season success may be fleeting for the defending NL East champions.
With exception of nine games against Miami and New York (NL), Washington will be facing contenders from both leagues throughout the month of April, including five games against Atlanta and six against Cincinnati.
The Nationals will emerge from April with a winning record, but Atlanta will be right there with them atop the NL East standings.
Click here for Washington's full April schedule.