Smell that? Well, of course not. You can’t smell words typed on a screen within the internets. But, hypothetically, you can conjure the smell: that mix of freshly cut grass, grilled hot dogs, oiled leather and salty nuts (including the ones in need of a shower after you baked in the bleacher’s sun during a day game). Yes, it is finally,
wonderfully, baseball season. More American than a pair of blue jeans and a stars and stripes bikini on Burke Burke, riding in a Ford pickup listening to Kenny Chesney eating McDonald’s outside the White House, baseball season isn’t just the first true sign that winter is over, but it is the hope of summer. With baseball comes bikinis, broads, beaches, BBQs, beer, (party) buses, Brooke Burke and, obviously, alliteration. All the best things in life. Without further ado, and because I ran out of awesome things that start with a “B”, besides Boston Red Sox, I give to you, my official 2011 MLB Preview.
BEST NON-BASEBALL RELATED STORIES ENTERING 2011
Thankfully, Evan Longoria, David Price and Reid Brignac got robbed just days before I wrote this blog, or the only story I’d have to talk about is Alexi Ogando being involved in a human trafficking ring. Since they did get robbed, I actually have something to talk about. Basically, if I were writing the story, it goes something like: “CLEARWATER, FLA.- Evan Longoria, David Price and Reid Brignac know all about hard work. Bro’ing out hardcore in a mansion while playing Spring Training baseball, plowing through groupie slores away on spring break and balling out on the XBox sticks, whilst wearing insured watches and burning money can be an exhausting proposition for most. No ordinary human can fathom having to lock the aforementioned mansion’s door on top of all that. Well, in a real plot twist, all their cool stuff got stolen. Included are Price’s 50k watch collection, Longoria’s AK-47 Russian issued assault rifle, and Brignac’s 1976″ HOLD UP! Stop, Colt.
Longoria’s AK-47 Russian issued assault rifle?! THE UFF?!” Yes. Apparently, Evan Longoria is the most anti-American mother-uffer in the MLB because dude straight up legally owns an AK-47, not an M-16. Wait, you’re surprised? You thought he rocked that faux-mullet-mohawk because he wasn’t an eastern European post-Soviet break-up insurgent preparing to waste anyone who dare attempt stealing his pricey American trinkets?! Oh, word.
Now back to that Alexi Ogando story, because, I shit you not, dude is a registered human trafficker (I feel like you have to register for such an offense, right?). Back in
’05 (I don’t know how to type the “Aught” sound people are using for the 00’s, but read it like that, for fancy historical context) Ogando was minding his own business re-entering the United States, trying to get his pitch on, when federal agents were waiting for him. It seems, an inordinate amount of Latin players were marrying chicks who got denied US Visas (I couldn’t get a credit card for a while either) at the time. Ogando pleaded guilty to this crime, got arrested, and banned from US re-entry for five years. If you’re thinking: “Shit, that’s illegal?!” I’m right there with you. If this whole underemployment thing doesn’t keep working out for me, I planned to get some money/a wife this way. Just goes to show, the “human trafficking” world isn’t all about finding US-born virgins following U2 around in France, abducting them, getting them addicted to meth, and auctioning them off to Saudi Sheiks. That’s just the plot to Taken. Thankfully, it’s been five years, Ogando is pissed, and is just striking out Americans with fastballs from hell. He’s back to being a rich baseball player, a fifth starter in the Rangers rotation, an ace in my heart, and on my fantasy team, obviously. God Bless America. Again.
BEST OFF-SEASON ACQUISITION
AL: Carl Crawford, Red Sox
Unfortunately for Carl, the Red Sox signed Darnell McDonald and his neck tattoos just before last season, or Carl Crawford would be the first Sox player to hold such an honor. Look, this isn’t the NBA, neck tats don’t just grow on Rule V drafts. Fortunately for the Red Sox, Crawford might be their most dynamic player, ever. By dynamic, I mean most freakishly athletic with all five of the tools that smart people say players have (six if you include neck tats as a tool). He will make a huge impact in the clubhouse (where rap music immediately moves up the locker room playlist), and on the field (where he’s just really good at baseball).
NL: Cliff Lee, Phillies
Uncle Cliffy gets absolutely no props for this one. While the Phillies made an amazing move acquiring the best pitcher in baseball via free agency, Lee made an amazingly whipped move of going back to an ex-girlfriend, er, team. While hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, apparently, Cliff Lee hath no problem with a team trading his ass and then going back to them once they begged. If you’re wondering how the “woman scorned” thing comes into play there, I’m not sure. But here’s a woman that has been scorned once or twice…
WORST OFF-SEASON MOVE
AL- NY Yankees, Idle
“Idle hands end up doing work the Devil would do if he were in the Yankees front-office” goes the old saying. Sure enough, this off-season, the Yankees whiffed on every pitch they saw. Even when everyone penciled in Cliff Lee as their newest $100+ million man, nobody took into account the whole “When Cliff Lee faced the Yankees in the World Series, ignorant classless NY fans heckled his wife in the stands… Effect.” Ouch, brah.
NL- St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols Contract
When you have Albert Pujols under contract, and you own not only Anheuser-Busch, but also the St. Louis Cardinals, you “pay zee mon hees moniez”, as Teddy KGB would say in Rounders. Instead, the Cardinals balked at the concept that Pujols isn’t worth 30 million a year, and now, they get to duel with the Red Sox or Yankees this off-season to try to re-sign him. Thankfully, the Pujols distraction may not matter since Wainwright’s injury probably killed their season dead, anyway.
BEST PITCHER WHO THROWS BASEBALLS BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE
AL: Felix Hernandez, Mariners (Again)
King Felix (I just Googled who King Felix actually was, you know, in history. Can’t find anything… so yeah, sweet nickname, brah) is just too good at throwing a baseball. Jon Lester is everyone’s pick this year, but just because the Sox offense got better doesn’t mean he’s not facing the Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays and even an improved Orioles lineup 76 times this year. Felix the Cat (much more recognizable nickname, I think), on the other glove, gets to face crappy AL West lineups like the Angels and A’s. CC Sabathia may have lost weight this off-season, but I’m pretty sure I’ve read that five consecutive years, and I think his innings and calories toll finally starts wearing him down into more of a tier-two pitcher.
NL: Roy Halladay, Phillies
Doc Halladay (I get this nickname, Doc Holliday was a famous gunfighter… if you didn’t get it) wins this award by default. I think Cliff Lee has a bit of a problem adjusting BACK to the NL, Josh Johnson would be my pick, but he has to face the Phillies and Braves and all their good pitchers/lineups far too often. Lincecum finally snaps his arm off at the rotator cuff, Wainwright is already out for the year, as previously mentioned, and Ubaldo Jimenez will regress from a season that still wasn’t enough to win this award last year. Plus, it’s not like Halladay isn’t amazingly consistent and gets to face the Mets a lot or anything.
MAN WITH A BAT AND GLOVE WHO USES THOSE INSTRUMENTS THE BEST
AL: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
Dude got to leave the worst hitter’s park for Major Leaguers, but nicest place for normal humans to live, and come to a park tailor made for his swing. There’s this huge green wall in Boston that makes it easy for left-handed hitters, who use the opposite field, to get hits and home runs. A-Gon (I know there’s like 13 of these currently playing in the major leagues), I mean, Adrian Gonzalez, happens to be one of those perfect left-handed hitters. He also happens to be hitting behind Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Carl Crawford. Add it all up, add in gold-glove caliber defense, and you win my award for using a bat and glove the best.
NL: Albert Pujols- St. Louis Cardinals
Because he only loses this award when voters get tired of writing his name. In my opinion, those voters are probably racist and think he should Americanize his name to Pooholes. Well, this isn’t Ellis Island, bitches, and Pujols is still the best hitter alive and probably ever. Seriously, when it is all said and done, he may be the greatest player ever. Plus, he dated a chick with an Autistic son, married her, adopted the kid, and does more charity work than Mother Theresa in a down year (you know, when she was living and doing whatever charity work it was that she did?). I guess some other contenders are Hanley Ramirez, Prince Fielder and Carlos Gonzalez ::yawn::
BEST YOUNG PLAYER WHO WINS THE AWARD FOR BEST FIRST SEASON
Honestly, I’m not even making this prediction, because the award is kind of dumb, has almost no impact on the rest of the recipients career and almost always goes to a top prospect who gets called up during the season. Since I try to be perfect, or at least better than everyone else, I refuse to open myself up to ridicule. Gun to the head, though, AL goes to Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, because he’s supposed to be real good. NL goes to Giants 1B Brandon Belt, because I read about him yesterday and he sounds real good, too. Here’s what I can predict: this next picture will be hot.
SO, WHO IS WORLD SERIES CHAMPION
Word count tells me I just hit 1,750. As a reward to those of you still reading, I’ll get right to the winner. San Francisco… will not win it again, this year. Sure, they’ve got nice pitching and all, but like I said, Lincecum is snapping his arm off this year, and their offense sucks… so, the Yankees… won’t even make the playoffs since I’m positive no more than 19 of their fans can name their #4 and #5 pitchers, and that includes AJ Burnett as their #3, which is gross (quick side note: back in college, a late night Red Sox/Yankees argument broke out between my best friend and Yankees fan, Angelo, and myself. In the heat of the drunken moment, I repeatedly asked him to name their #3 starter at the time. In his defense, they had a rash of injuries, and I’m not sure Brian Cashman knew the answer. Short story, long, we almost came to blows, but decided shotgunning a beer would be better. It was a great decision)… so, the Phillies… won’t win the World Series, because Atlanta will beat them in the NLCS thanks to a pitching staff that is nearly as deep and a lineup that is far deeper (particularly with Utley’s status in doubt). With Atlanta in the World Series, all that’s left is naming the AL champion… the Rangers… are not it, though, as they lose to the Red Sox in the ALCS because, well, they aren’t as good. Which leaves us with the World Series matchup of Red Sox vs. Braves, to be held in Fenway Park after the American League restarts their All-Star win streak.
So… the Red Sox win the 2011 World Series. Yes, as a diehard Red Sox fan this is biased. Yes, I’m sick even making this prediction. I don’t know why I’m not giving the Yankees a guaranteed jinx and picking them, but instead I’m giving this the reverse jinx. With Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, Lackey and Dice-K, nobody in the American League matches up 1-5 in the rotation. With a lineup that adds Crawford, Gonzalez and a healthy Pedroia and Youkilis, no lineup matches up in all of baseball. All joking aside, my honest opinion says it’s the Red Sox World Series to lose.