Spring has sprung and an old man’s fancy naturally turns to…baseball! Oh the memories! The boy standing on the green diamond lit by a young sun, 34-inch Jackie Robinson model Louisville Slugger in hand, the already well-oiled Mickey Mantle Rawlings glove on the bench waiting to be worn again, the sweet smell of resin wafting in from the pitching mound as the tall southpaw goes into his wind-up…Oh! Baseball were Paradise enow!
Enough of this bourgeois sentimentality! Time to put aside childhood memories and unleash these arthritic fingers to attack the keyboard and provide you with my winning picks for the 2019 Major League Baseball season. Those bettors who have relied on my remarkable predictive powers in the past can finally buy that winter hideaway on Bora Bora. And if it is within walking distance, I’ll be there to welcome you and accept your thanks.
No such luck for you pony players. This year I will forego my handicapping of the Run for the Roses in early May. The tragic death of 22 horses at Santa Anita and the subsequent interruption in the racing season have scrambled my handicapping skills; and I don’t want to give you a bum steer…or a lame nag, if you prefer. (I will, of course, pass on any late-breaking tips I get from my shadowy sources in the you-know-where.)
Back to inside baseball and your proven guide to wealth and happiness. Know that the Minnesota Twins are the most improved team in baseball and may overtake Cleveland in the weak American League Central; the Indians, having let many of their best players go in a cost-saving move, may still hold on by virtue of their excellent starting pitching. Stand-pat Boston will whip the Yankees again; the Bronx Bombers will bomb away once more, but that starting pitching is too iffy. The slow-building Tampa Bay Rays will creep closer to them both this year. In the West young and loaded Houston will prevail again over Oakland, which just can’t continue to pull rabbits out of that cheap and tattered hat. The lazy Angels and indecisive Mariners will fill the midpack. Yes, the Red Sox and Astros will again battle for a World Series berth; this time the coin flip goes Houston’s way.
Meanwhile, in the National League I will go against the grain and pick the Nats over the loaded Phillies. Yes, I know that the great Bryce Harper has moved from Washington to Philadelphia; I’m just gambling that the Nationals’ acquisition of catcher Yan Gomes will finally straighten out that pitching staff and they will live up to years of hype. Atlanta is good, but they hang in the stretch. The talented Mets will find a way to screw up again. In the National League Central, the most wide-open of all divisions, figure a close, three-way fight for first. The Cubs are still balanced and solid, the Cardinals with the addition of Paul Goldschmidt are improved, and in Milwaukee there is a mighty reincarnation of Harvey’s Wallbangers (but the pitching?). Flip a three-sided coin for that winner. Also, the Reds are rebuilding, while Pittsburgh seems confused. Out West the deep in talent and pockets Dodgers are the choice…to win the Division championship (with the Rockies nipping at their heels) and the League Championship (against the Phillies perhaps?)…but not the coveted World Series. Those AL teams still are just too tough. San Diego will finally improve, while Arizona, another team to dump its talent to save bucks, will drop like a ton of rocks.
Remember, the detailed picks below carry my standard guarantee: if the teams do not appear in the precise order predicted, you will receive next year’s selections absolutely free!
BN: When I was one and twenty I heard a wise man say the existence of baseball was proof of the existence of God. Jes’ repeatin.