Tuesday, April 06, 2010

2010 MLB Preview: Springing Forward With Fatty & Splinter

Well, it's all over. The NCAA Tournament, that is. And like anything worth doing, or worth watching, it seemed to have come and gone faster than Gary Tanguay at 98.5 The Sports Hub... (Welcome back, Gresh. We missed ya, buddy)

And while it's only been over for a few hours, with no doubt winners and losers alike just now finding their way to their beds, I'm ready to label this as not only a great tournament, but a fitting send off to what is probably the last year for the field of "65". I'm not against expansion, per say, but I had a much better plan that I came up with a few years ago that would probably preserve more of the tourney's normalcy, and not create this schedule altering 32 team first round bye. But that, as they say, is a conversation for another time. The other time, in this case, more than likely being at the beginning of next season, or when in fact they actually roll out the full schedule of proposed changes...

If in fact we have seen the last of the field of 65, last night was a great way to go out. For an event that boasts giving every team, no matter the size or the prestige, a shot at glory, while at the same time rewarding consistent excellence, the Duke/Butler match up, and it's ultimate outcome, were the perfect ending to what's been a highly entertaining series of games. And while it might surprise you to hear me say it, considering all the "Splinter" & "Trust Fund Crazies" jokes I've made over the years, the fact that the Blue Devils were able to take that thing down works better to reflect why the tournament model as constituted has always been so successful, so entertaining, and so highly regarded as a great way to determine the best team in your sport. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved it had Duke lost, too, but this result better embodies the spirit of what the 65 team field has brought. A "Cinderella" made an improbable run, to prove that dreams could come true, but the consummate "team" was just too much for them to handle, and that perennial power claimed it's 4th title in the last 20 years. Butler's run had all the right ear marks for it to go down as the ultimate upset, right down to it's "Baby Faced Assassin", having not one, but two, final jumpers go just a bit too long. (The first of which reminded me of that Bird miss in game 1 of I wanna say the '85 Finals?)...

Truly an epic finish to a fantastic tournament. For once a finale actually lived up to the full body of work, despite Clark Kellogg's best efforts...

Also, on a more personal note, the officiating in that game last night also embodied the worst of the charging/blocking disparity that seems to have overrun all forms of basketball during the past 5+ years. With 11 minutes left, and Butler trailing by 3, Gordon Hayward made a drive, a bucket, and appeared to be fouled essentially right under the hoop by a sliding Jon Scheyer. The result? Charge called on Hayward, the basket was wiped out, and the replay CLEARLY showed what I could tell from across the room on TV. At no point did Jon Scheyer EVER stop moving. That blown call turned into a 5 point swing, and while I am by no means trying to insinuate that call cost them the game, or that Duke was receiving favoritism, it did highlight, on the game's biggest stage, a rather large problem that needs to be addressed. IT's become crystal clear to me in the last 2+ years that something is wrong with that way the block and charge are called at all levels of basketball...

To me, it's one of 3 things here, or perhaps a combination of 'em...

1) The refs were given certain instructions in regards to the calls, that the fans were never informed of

2) They don't know the damn rule to begin with

3) There are too many showboating zebras out there whose ranks could use a little bit of thinning

Whatever the reason, it's obvious that their view on the call has changed, and in a world where an NBA ref was recently incarcerated for essentially helping to fix games, you would think that such a blatant issue like this is something the NCAA and the NBA would want to nip in the bud. Well, maybe not the NBA. They seem to enjoy having their refs play an integral part in the game. I mean, why else would they have one of them kiss Charles Barkley on National TV?...

But enough complaining. It is Spring after all, and with the weather forcing the ladies into their more scantily clad attire, there's really not too much bitching to be done. Sure I may have failed for the 6th time in the last 7 years to make any money in the NCAA Tournament, but that just gives me extra incentive to work even harder next year to finally bring home some bacon for all my loyal Rooch Nation readers. That, and I don't wanna go by the way of Sports Illustrated's "Dr. Z", who annually picks a team to win the Super Bowl that will ultimately finish the season at 6-10. A washed up handicapper whose only retort is "Well I used to win all the time...". Nah, that ain't me. I don't make my bones of the success rate of my predictions, and I don't give myself a glorified title in order to impress my readers...

If that were the case, I'd call myself Reverend Brett Ferruccio, and post a weekly column called "The Revs Righteous Redictions". What? I became a Reverend in 2001 thanks to a few clicks on the web page of the Universal Life Church. You saying that's no good? And yeah, I realize that I forgot the "P" when I wrote "Redcitons" a few lines back, but there are 2 important reasons for that. 1) It goes better with the alliteration AND 2) you would have to be a "Re" for even reading a column like that...

Pfffft. Dr. Z. More like Mrs. Pibb, if you ask me...

Now, in keeping with the tradition of speaking out of both sides of my mouth and walking a line finer than Amy Winehouse's breakfast, I'm about to unveil an abridged version of what's going on in my brain right now in regards to the recently started 2010 Major League Baseball season...
Notice how I didn't say "predictions"...

Sure they may look like "predictions", but I like to think of them more like a "hypothesis". An educated guess, if you will. I've compiled what I know, made my guess, and much like in the NCAA Tournament, now it's up to you. Only difference here, is that there's no "pool" to be had here, so I doubt any of you will be scribbling down what I write, or debating with your colleagues which team has the best shot at the NL Wild Card...

But hey, I gotta put somethin' down on paper, right? How else am I going to be able to brag when my predictions come true? Uh, I mean, when I'm able to adequately prove my hypothesis...

Enjoy, kids. And not just the column, but the season. I'm getting the unsettling feeling that true Boston baseball fans are rapidly dwindling in numbers, and while I welcome the departure of all the Pink Hats, I fear the increased apathy could take a lot of bite out of usually one of the most passionate and ravenous fan bases in the country. Maybe the NFL Draft will pass, and things will go back to being normal around here. But even that statement just doesn't sound right. Not for Boston. Not for April...

Oh well. Guess I can just add that to the list of things I'm going to have to "get over", I suppose. A list that, sadly enough, seems to be getting longer by the day. But hey, me and you both, right?

Now get your read on...

AL East
1. Boston Red Sox*
2. New York Yankees*
3. Tampa Bay Rays
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Toronto Blue Jays

A Boston fan glances at this, and says "Of course he picked Boston, he's from Massachusetts".

A Yankee fan glaces at this, and says "Of course he picked Boston, he's from Massachusetts".

Someone that knows me glances at this and says "Wow, Rooch really thinks the Red Sox are better than the Yankees this year? Interesting".

I don't pick the Red Sox because I like them, just like I don't pick against the Yankees because they are the Red Sox main rival. This year, I'm banking on two things that will help push the Red Sox past the Yanks and into the top spot of the most powerful division in baseball...

1) It's tough to repeat. Granted, the Yanks have done it in recent memory, but between health issues and just the general "luck" and "breaks" involved in baseball, it's just a lot harder than you would think. Even if you do sport the game's highest payroll year in and year out...

2) People say this team lacks offense, and I agree, but I also bank on Theo Epstein changing that fact before the Red Friends hit the post season. I don't know if it's going to be Adrian Gonzalez or Speedy Gonzalez, but it'll be somebody. Mark my words...

So I give the division to the Sox, the AL Wild Card to the Yanks (hence the *), an honorable mention to the Rays and O's, and a big CANADA SUCKS to the probable cellar dwellers residing north of the border...

Oh, and a big thumbs up to 5 year Joshua Sacco for his Herb Brooks "Miracle" speech. Usually I would be against something that's so Pink Hat oriented, but this is just too damn cute to ignore. That's right, I just called a 5 year old boy cute. And even in the wake of watching Doubt this past week, I feel totally comfortable with that...

AL Central
1. Chicago White Sox*
2. Minnesota Twins
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Detroit Tigers
5. Cleveland Indians

The sad thing about the AL Central, is that any casual baseball fan can justify thinking that any and all of these teams are just God awful. They would be wrong, mind you, it's just that common perception here in the East coast is that we're more threatened by teams coming out of the West than we ever are coming out of the Central. Justified or not, that's just how people out here think...

I like the White Sox to take this thing down in a battle to the death with the Twins, the Royals to post a respectable 75 wins or so, and for the Indians and Tigers to continue their search for what exactly is going wrong with their respective franchises...

Specifically, I think that while the White Sox offense may hold them back a little, their pitching will keep them in the race long enough for GM Kenny Williams to find them a little extra pop. Just like Theo Epstein, in the East. The Twins will put up a great fight, commentators will remark on their consistency, and they'll be lucky win the Wild Card...

That is if they don't freeze to death playing in their new open air stadium. Yeah. Because that was a good idea. Not like it's cold in Minnesota, or anything. What's next? A legitimate hockey league in the United States?..

AL West
1. LA Angels*
2. Seattle Mariners
3. Texas Rangers
4. Oakland A's

I always try to pick against the Angels, and whenever I do, it ends up biting me in the ass. So despite the improvements in Seattle (including an LA defection), and the annual buzz that Texas might have enough pitching, I'll take Mike Scioscia and the points, and feel pretty comfortable in doing so...

Boston Red Sox OVER Chicago White Sox (3-1)
New York Yankees OVER LA Angels (3-0)

Boston Red Sox OVER New York Yankees (4-3)

Sticking to my guns, I say the Sox get another bat, and after another epic ALCS with the Yankees, advance to their 3rd World Series in the past 7 years. If for no other reason than the fact that NYY radio man, John Sterling's, new call for Curtis Granderson is arguably the worst home run call since Joe Buck's mockumentarian "Slam-a-lama...DING DONG!" I mean, "Some sort of grandish"?

Really, John? A reference from some late 40's Broadway play? "Tex Messages" and "Melk Men" are one thing, but when you're creating nicknames just so you and Suzy Waldman can get a good hearty chuckle 20-25 times a season, is just going overboard. I know you wanted to steer clear of any obvious calls like "Into the Grand Stands!", but I think you would have been better off sticking just a little bit closer to home. I came up with "It's a Grand 'Ole Shot-ry!", and while I get it's not the most appropriate reference, I believe it's at least in the ballpark...

Pun, intended.

And that's why the Red Sox are going to win the Amiercan League. That, and their pitching should be enough to send El Captian and El Crappy Tan onto the late circuit sooner than expected...

NL East
1. Philadelphia Phillies*
2. NY Mets
3. Florida Marlins
4. Atlanta Braves
5. Washington Nationals

The NL East has the ability to be one of the more competitive divisions in baseball, with 4 of the 5 teams playoff worthy, but despite the potential for parity, I'm still sticking with the team that won the division by 6 games a year ago, and made significant additions this off season...

Just a day into the 2010 campaign, and already Roy Halladay and Placido Palanco have made their presences felt in their new home, and their addition has only helped to solidify an already deep and talented team...

I like the Mets, Marlins and Braves to all hang around the Wild Card for the majority of the season, and I even think the Nationals might be fun to watch with their crop of young guys trying to turn that thing around. Ultimately, I just think Philly is too good for any of these teams to outlast them in the long haul, although I wouldn't put it past any of the aforementioned 3 to make things more difficult for the Brotherly Lovers than it probably should be...

NL Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals*
2. Cincinnati Reds
3. Houston Astros
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Chicago Cubs
6. Pittsburgh Pirates

The Cardinals are still the class of the Central, it's just the rest of the division that's kinda hard to get a handle on. 2 through 6 all have the potential to make some noise, but with that they also bring the likelihood that they will self destruct due to chemistry or injury (Cubs + Astros) or fail to live up to potential (Brewers + Reds)...

The team I'm most excited to see live up to that potential is the Reds, who may still be a year or two away, but also seem capable of making a shady run towards the Wild Card. Even Hall of Famer, Johnny Bench, thinks so, and according to former teammate and ESPN analyst, Joe Morgan, Bench might be the only white man on the planet allowed to comment on baseball. So I'd listen to what he has to say...

Gut feeling here says Brewers end up having a fire sale, too. Their lack of pitching will catch up to them, and they'll start sheddin' the role. And I know a certain team that might be looking to replace a certain lumbering DH, with another hefty lefty that just might be thrown out onto the market...

Here's a hint. He plays 1st, he's not Mexican, and his dad may or may not be being played by Ving Rhames in an upcoming biopic called "Fatty's Boom Batty"...

Did you figure it out? Yeah, you figured it out. Sure the picture didn't hurt, either...

And don't worry, I'll have tickets to the "Fatty's Boom Batty" premier available right here on Rooch Nation as soon as they go on sale. And if you believe that, there's a lacrosse party on Cig Street that I'd really like to invite you to...

NL West
1. Colorado Rockies*
2. San Fransisco Giants*
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. San Diego Padres
5. Arizona Diamondbacks

More often than not, I'm usually the most incorrect about the NL West, because I guess it's always the last division I do. It always appears last in the standings, they always play their games when I'm headin' to bed. I guess it's just natural...

But not this year. Seeing as I knew I'd do the AL East to open things up, I first focused my attention on what I thought might go down in the NL West. The result, as you can see, is that I probably over compensated by giving two post season bids to a division that usually ranks as the most suspect in all of the Bigs...

I got the Dodgers pegged for a backslide, the Padres set for a fire sale, the D-Backs head for the basement, and the Giants and Rockies headed towards the playoffs. Why? Well I like the Rockies offense, and that with some pretty decent pitching should be enough. And in the Giants I see a young team ready to take that next step. Sure they lack some serious offensive punch, but just throw them on the list of team's that's going to add another bat before things are done. Hell, they paid Edgar Renteria, you think they won't go out and add another slugger if they think they're close? Of course they will...

Colorado Rockies OVER Philadelphia Phillies (3-2)
St. Louis Cardinals OVER San Fransisco Giants (3-2)

Colorado Rockies OVER San Fransisco Giants (4-3)

As long as I'm sowing my NL West oats, might as well have the Rockies and Giants meet to battle things out in the NLCS, right? I say Lincecum returns on short rest to pitch in game 7, but the Bay Area G-Men fall just short of their first World Series in the post Barroid Era...

Setting up the '07 rematch...

Boston Red Sox OVER Colorado Rockies (4-1)

...where I'm banking on a similar result. Boston's pitching will set them apart, and thanks to a few clutch dings by the Spawn of Boom Batty (or his equivelant), the Sox will get their 3rd World Championship since 2004. The water will be dirty, the duck boats will be floating in it, and I'm sure Joshua Sacco will have a prominent place right next the the Series MVP...

The Rockies?! Screw 'em!

So there you have it, valued friends and foes alike. In true Spring fashion, we've looked back on the great NCAA Tournament that was, and started to look ahead at the great baseball season that's sure to come. Maybe that's why I don't need the NBA and the NHL in my life. Between baseball, college hoops, and both pro and college football, I have a perfect schedule going where in one sport ends, and the other one essentially begins. At no point do I have to settle and watch something I don't want to just to fill the void. Good for me, I guess. I got that part of my life figured out, which is nice. Gives me time to focus on the other 99.9% of the shit I still need to work on...

I'll be keeping an eye on Tiger at The Masters this weekend, and I'll have a some thoughts on that next week, along with the debut of the Red Sox Update. So keep your eye focused on the Intraweb, and keep spreadin' the word about the man that speaks the truth. My numbers are growing, from Twitter followers, to Facebook subscribers, and I have nobody to thank but all of you. I appreacite your support, and hope that I can continue providing you with the witty one liners and the valuable insight that keeps you coming back for more...

Have a great week, and I'll catch you on the flipman...

Teddy Williams...



Anonymous said...

I heard it was actually Carl Winslow who was slated to play Big Cec. Or maybe that was in Fatty Boom Batty II: Escape from Detroit

Brett Ferruccio said...

Haha. Is this A. Tipster again?

Either way, Senor. Nameless, I think you're confusing Carl Winslow with that cop from Die Hard...

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