I read many blogs and other publications about where teams will finish at the end of the season. Many call the baseball season a marathon and that is a good description. 162 games spanning seven months and close to eight if your team is winning it all. Throw in the spring training and we have a nine month journey. Pacing one’s self is necessary.Since Boston and the 2009 World Champion Yankees are kicking this race off tomorrow, I thought it would be fun to look at the past Boston and NYC Marathon winners to see if there are patterns that can help me in predicting the winner of the 2010 baseball season.
In recent history for the Boston Marathon, if you were male and from Kenya, you won 16 of the last 20 years. If you were from Kenya and your name was Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, you won 4 of the last 7 years. If you were female and from Kenya, you won 7 of the last 10 years. If you were female and your name was Catherine Ndereba from Kenya, you won 4 of those 7 times. For wheelchair marathon participants, winning 8 of the last 9 years from South Africa was Ernst Van Dyk for the men and for the women the last three years was Wakako Tsuchida from Japan.
For NYC, the marathon results tell not so clear a dynastic story. In the men’s division Martin Lel from Kenya had won twice in the last 7 years. Marilson Domes del Santos from Brazil had won twice in the last four years. In the woman’s division, both Paula Radcliffe from Great Britain and Jelena Prokopcuka from Latvia had won twice in the last five years. In the wheelchair division for the men, Kurt Fearnley from Australia has won the last four years and Edith Hunkeler from Switzerland won 5 of the last 6 years for the wheelchair woman’s division.
With dynasties and rivalries also present for marathons in these two cities as I have tried to show presently, I will now try to predict the winners of the 162 game baseball marathon and playoffs. My mantra for picking the winners this year is pitching and defense win the championship.
2010 American League East Division
With a rotation that has a proven ace in Josh Beckett, a ready-to-be ace in Jon Lester, a former ace of the Angels in John Lackey, a former ace of Japan in Daisuke Matsuzaka and arguably a future ace in Clay Buchholz along with a formidable bullpen that ends with Papelbon along with defensive improvements with the additions of Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro, this team will be hard for the Yankees and Rays to beat. Add this to the lineup of Ortiz, Martinez, Youkilis and Pedroia and this seems like a team ready to win again.
I really think the Angels lost too much to repeat as the winners of this division. That being said, I wonder if anyone has an all-around stronger pitching rotation and defense than them. Here is where I wonder if I have to go against my mantra and pick the Rangers with a formidable “softball beer league” lineup. The Mariners made great improvement but red flags go up for me when I see two great aces but no one proven behind them and a bullpen that is unproven. Sure, Chone Figgins helps but with Milton Bradley present, expect there to be “behavior” problems. The Athletics are a team I do not think has enough to compete. Winner by default: the Angels (only because of the deepest rotation in the division, bullpen and manager.)
When I see the Phillies, I see Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels leading a staff and team that wants to return. This being said, the Braves are going to be a team to reckon with because if enough of the Braves players want to win one to send the old man to retirement with, look out! They have a team that can do it. Still I think that the defending National League champs have a mission in mind. It is sort of this “until they are beat, give them the prize” mentality. They have the proven offense and aces to win a lot of games. What holds me back from saying it is a sure thing is the fact that Lidge is listed on the DL.This worries me.
2010 National League West Division
Okay, take the offense of the Dodgers along with their closer. The starters just do not excite me so much. The starters of the Giants are the deepest rotation with a competitive pop in the offense and one never knows. The Rockies have a formidable rotation, good offense and better bullpen so perhaps they can regain the edge to be on top. This is a tough division to choose for me. I like the Giants with their pitching and defense slightly ahead of the Rockies to pull it out in the end.
2010 National League Central Division
When you have two of the best sluggers, an outstanding ace and a formidable bullpen in a division where a team that has a curse over its state of mind, one can say that your chances of repeating as division winners are good. I like the Cardinals to win in this division simply because I think they are the most balanced of all the divisional teams.
2010 American League Wildcard
I think of the teams remaining, one has to think that the team with the best pitching and defense of the rest of the teams is between the Rays and the Yankees. I like the Yankees simply because of their ability to be consistent. Experience and consistency does well in marathons. Give this one to the Yankees! I always wonder when age will catch up with the Yankees. I won’t be disappointed if the Rays regain the Wildcard. I just think it is easier to give a current world champion their due.
2010 National League Wildcard
At this point in the season, I like the Braves to regain the Wildcard but I will not be surprised to see a team like the Rockies and Dodgers here either. I’ll give it to the Braves just because it makes for a great story! l like their overall team better than all the rest that are not division winners at this time. The rotation and overall team is the strongest of the teams remaining. What a fitting tribute to have Bobby Cox go into the playoffs one more time.
Don’t ask me anything about the playoffs because the teams have to get there first! After all, I plan to be watching them without my favorite team there once again. Enjoy the season, everyone! By the way, I think it is brilliantly ironic that the season starts on Easter this year. After all, every baseball fan holds a miracle of hope that somehow their team will rise up and become the champion they want them to be!
For the rest of Major League Baseball, I presume this series is not as BIG as the Yankees/Red Sox over the weekend! However, for me, the Yankees and Red Sox and Tigers are the teams I love to see EVERY year. It all goes back to the days when these teams were in the AL Eastern Division.
Tonight will renew the rivalry. I can’t wait. I will be in my seat tonight behind third base in Sec. 162 Row N and cheering loudly for all the Indians. I can remember cheering against Boston ever since I watched baseball when they face the Tribe. Tonight I will get to do it once again.
Favorite Red Sox I have cheered against
Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd
The list will continue tomorrow as I must get ready to go to the game now.
Thanks to Anthony Castrovince for posting the lineups.
INDIANS: CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, 1B Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, DH Ryan Garko, SS Jhonny Peralta, 3B Mark DeRosa, C Kelly Shoppach, LF Trevor Crowe. LHP Cliff Lee (1-3, 5.25).
RED SOX: CF Jacoby Ellsbury, 2B Dustin Pedroia, DH David Ortiz, 1B Kevin Youkilis, LF Jason Bay, 3B Mike Lowell, RF Jeff Bailey, C George Kottaras, SS Nick Green. RHP Tim Wakefield (2-1, 2.45).
I expect a tough battle, yet with focus and determination, the TRIBE can WIN!
I WANT A WIN TONIGHT! GO TRIBE
Last night after I was coming from the game was the lowest I think I have felt as a fan this season including Spring Training. I had all these ideas streaming through my head about stopping the blogs until they won again to firing Wedge to moving DeRosa out of the 2 hole in the lineup to wearing Red Sox to make the Tribe mad enough to win Monday. I was trying to think which approach would work to get this team to realize the window of competition is closing fast
Today, not even really motivated about the game, I worked at the game just blocking out everything. “4-0” someone said. “So”, I said. Its still early, I thought.
Whatever drink this is, let me have another Sipp!
Hearing Tony Sipp come into the game, I was interested to hear how he would do. Tony came without fear and SHUT the Twins down. What a inning that I hope defines how we respond often. It was especially impressive to see him SHUT DOWN Morneau like he did to help the Tribe get out of the inning. It was 4-2 and a BIG SIGH was given as we were able to escape disaster.
Wood gets save, although I find myself sweating it out!
When Wood came out, everyone did not expect what occurred. Getting two on with none out was something Bob Wickman or Joe Borowski would do but not Kerry Wood. Still, to see him get out of it with a double play made it even more special. Hopefully, the save opportunities will increase in the very near future.
Gotta do the wash!
There is something about the color RED! When the Indians had their 1990’s run, their socks were RED and they had some of their greatest teams EVER! Still, as of late, the RED SOX have been the team to beat, winning titles in 2004 and 2007 respectively. Our team has struggled against them often. What a great time to beat them! They have won 10 in a row. They have great pitching, yet in watching them last night, I saw a common theme that will help us win.
In my last entry posted, I talked about being focused. FOCUS is the key, here! ERRORLESS defense, smart pitching and key hitting and jumping ahead early and keeping the intensity on the SOX and WE CAN WIN! Hopefully, yesterday will help jump start a streak that will lead to a series win and get us back into some RESPECTABILITY!
Now where is that bleach? After all, making the RED SOX WHITE makes them less intimidating.
The AL East will be the toughest division in 2009 to predict. At least three quality teams will be fighting for two playoff slots. The result will find perhaps the third best team on paper out of the playoffs altogether in October. That being said, these picks could go any way depending on which group of fans you ask.
It is my strong belief that the season may end before May 1st for the Baltimore Orioles in 2009. Even though, they have locked up 2B Brian Roberts and RF Nick Markakis to well-deserved long term contracts, the rest of the team seems to be named later in the package marked “potential”. One of the prospects that may make an impact sooner than later is Catcher Mark Wieters. He should make a splash by mid-season if not sooner. Exciting times are coming, just not in April.
The pitching for the Orioles is not too promising. Although, with former Indian Jeremy Guthrie and newcomer Koji Uehara, things could be interesting. The rest of the rotation is shaky. George Sherill is a solid closer but getting to him will be a problem. With this division, the Orioles may be headed for 100 plus losses early and a fifth place finish.
The Toronto Blue Jays will still have Halladay. However, without A.J. Burnett whom they lost in free agency to the Yankees. I can’t see this rotation doing much to keep this team competitive for 2009. Halladay will feel the pressure to go out and win each and every time he takes the mound. The rest of the rotation will be around .500 or below in terms of wins. With this combination, I can see the team losing 90 plus in this division. The bullpen must improve to keep the team in games. Hopefully B.J.Ryan will reemerge as a top closer to keep the Blue Jays close. However, most likely, the offense with the emergence of Travis Snider, the return of Aaron Hill and the aggressiveness of Cito Gaston. Hopefully, the Blue Jays can stay healthy and put up a good fight. However, in the AL East, 4th place is the best they will do.
The next three could all finish first depending from which perspective and angle you cover. I myself pick the teams this way and will probably look back as with the other divisions and say “What was I thinking?” This happens every year.
For third place, I select the Tampa Bay Rays. I just think the Rays are young now with the pressure added to repeat as American League champions. Everyone won’t see them as the underdog anymore. The addition of Pat Burrell does not do much for me to say this team is legit for a title when the Yankees and Red Sox did much to improve their chances this year through free agency. I think therefore they will crack under the pressure, not play so loose and finish 3rd in the division as a result.
The next two will be represented in the playoffs as the AL East Champion and the Wildcard. Either one could win. However, I will share some personal thoughts here. I think CC and A.J. are talented and will add sincere depth to the already talented rotation. Mark Texieria is typically a slow starter. CC chokes under pressure and I have seen A.J. lose close games before also. It will be interesting how CC will respond to the pressure of New York and being the ace of this staff. I see their bullpen as the weakness.With the loss of A-Rod for awhile, the distraction of Joba and the lack of Joba in the bullpen may play a part in seeing the Yankees battle with the Rays for the second place Wildcard spot. I don’t think they will win the division for 2009.
The Red Sox will be challenged, no doubt about it. I think the rotation was boosted with great depth and this will definitely benefit Boston down the stretch. I like Beckett to have a rebound year. Also Brad Penny and John Smoltz will add great rewards for the Sox rotation at low risk. They addressed any issues in the bullpen with Takashi Saito and Ramon Ramirez. Then there is the offense which is stocked full of both young talent and viable veterans as well as the addition of Rocco Baldelli. All in all, although it will be tight, I think Boston will prevail as 2009 AL East champs. What do you all think?
To the Tampa Bay Rays organization:
Your team has been a great inspiration for all of us, small and medium markets who like the underdog. Please I want to all know that being up 3-1 is dangerous. YOUR ORGANIZATION AND FAN BASE MUST REMAIN FOCUSED!
For the fans, I said these on Kevin Youkilis’s blog last year at this time when the Tribe was up 3-1: “This should teach all involved for Boston or New York. This game is about TEAM, not money. This game is about 1-9 working together, not relying on a PAPI, MANNY, YOOOUUK…Beckett, or any big money player to carry you. Instead, it is about a bunch of men coming together as a team to accomplish one thing, to WIN! Colorado vs. Cleveland is coming because its about TEAM, not superstars or money!” Also, I stated, “2007 is the year for the ROCKY Mountain ROCKIES and the ROCK’N’ROLL TRIBE!”
History will show that these comments were said in haste. I was not alone in making these comments. However, this taught me that nothing in this game is a guarantee. It is my hope that 2009 will be a return to the playoffs for the Tribe, maybe against your team, the Rays! Until then, however, I have to say “DO NOT PREDICT OR ASSUME ANYTHING ABOUT THE RAYS’ FUTURE!”
Also, to the players, if you can, I would close this out tomorrow. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL GAME 6 or 7! CLOSE IT OUT IN 5 GAMES! The Yankees of 2004 and my Tribe last year know all too well what happens the longer the series goes!
Best of luck! Stay focused! Stay determined! Stay humbled!
“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it” DON’T DO IT, RAYS! CHANGE IT!
Okay Tribe fans, I wanted to see them sweep or take three out of four. At the least, I wanted a split. I received none of the above. After Zach and the bullpen did so well on Monday, the Indians could not get another nice performance. So, what can we do to improve this?
Get the Red out, I say and replace it with White, again! What I would love to do is knock Chicago out. We can only hope. After all, they made it difficult for us back in 2005. So, let’s return the favor. I remember how it felt to choke and would like nothing better for Chicago’s White Sox to remember this too.
We shall see how this ends up. Hopefully, the Tribe has something to play for until game 162! Let’s finish strong and remember to do what we must to live in the present headed for the most important 2009.
This could very well state the case. In my experience, no team going into the playoffs losing,3 in a row going into tonight, having a poor bullpen, and blowing leads really does well winning a division or going far in any playoff series. Offense can only take you so far.
So Tribe fans, take heart and buckle up for some exciting baseball over the weekend. We will wish Chicago all types of luck especially if they win the division as we did last year. However, our goal should be to have them on a losing streak if possible going into the most important season: the Postseason!