New Marlins Ballpark

Base­ball really has its fin­ger on the pulse of what peo­ple like and want. To have the guts to have FOUR Open­ing Days is really quite spe­cial. First, we had Mariners ver­sus the A’s over in Japan. Then last night you had Miami ver­sus St. Louis. Today has a half-docket of games, with the rest of the league begin­ning play tomor­row. As usual, Bud Selig is doing a great job as Emperor of Base­ball.

Any­way, as usual, please for­give any typos and errors. I’m drink­ing and no one is edit­ing this shit. Let’s get to it.

* I watched the first four innings of the Tigers-Red Sox game. Justin Ver­lan­der has his­tor­i­cally been a ter­ri­ble Open­ing Day starter. He’s never won on on the first day of the sea­son in (I think) seven starts and he has an ERA over 8. But today he’s in prime form as he’s got a one-hitter through four.

I don’t think that a start­ing pitcher should ever win the MVP, but damn is that kid good. And I have to admit: His MLB 2K12 com­mer­cial is great. It also never hurts hav­ing Kate Upton in there, too. On a side note, if you haven’t seen Kate Upton’s Hardee’s com­mer­cial, please do your­self a favor and click on this link. Hell, even if you’ve already seen it, it’s worth another watch. 14:27

* As great as Ver­lan­der is, I’m going to switch over to the Nats game to watch Stephen Stras­burg. If you like base­ball, then you have to be pray­ing that this kid bounces back from Tommy John surgery. I’m not a fan of pitch counts and I hope that the Nats don’t baby Stras too much. I’m with Nolan Ryan: Make these guys throw a ton and build up their arm strength. 14:36

* Let’s do some pre­dic­tions. If you haven’t already checked out Jake Quint’s pre­view, click here. He’s a far more humor­ous writer than I am, even if he wishes that he had my bril­liant abil­ity to bring the worlds of finance and tech­nol­ogy to life on paper.

Well start with the AL East. Assum­ing that the Red Sox aren’t com­pletely mind-fucked by their epic col­lapse last sea­son, then I think that they have the best team all around, even if there are some ques­tion marks at the back end of the rota­tion and at closer, I think that those spots will actu­ally work them­selves out. I think the Yan­kees are going to find that their pitch­ing acqui­si­tions were not what the ywere hop­ing for. Obvi­ously, that’s already the case with Michael Pineda. Hiroki Kuroda? I’m not buy­ing it in that ball­park. Now you’re ask­ing for Freddy Gar­cia to have another good year, and pray­ing that Phil Hughes has a year of con­sis­tency and Ivan Nova pans out. That might be ask­ing a lot.

I think the Yanks are going to be the odd team out, unless they grab that extra wild card slot. I like Tampa to fin­ish right behind the BoSox. That pitch­ing staff is nasty, and if Matt Moore is what I think he is, this staff can com­pete with Philadelphia’s as best in the league. Bal­ti­more and Toronto will have to keep on hop­ing for realign­ment. 14:47

* BTW, Stras­burg had a solid first inning. He jammed the first two hit­ters and then caused Ster­ling Cas­tro to pop up to the mound…unfortunately, Stras vacated the mound and nei­ther the first or third base­men could get to the ball. Then Alfonso Sori­ano hit an absolute bomb to straight away cen­ter, but the wind is blow­ing in hard and the ball didn’t even make it to the warn­ing track. On most any other day at Wrigley that’s a homer. The same fate befell Ryan Zim­mer­man in the first, except his at least made the track.

All told for Stras in the first, seven pitches and five strikes. 14:50

* Bril­liant sec­ond inning for Stras­burg. He looks sharp. 14:56

* Fun inning for Miguel Cabr­era in the sixth inning. He made an error and made an unnec­es­sary acro­batic grab in foul ter­ri­tory. Watch­ing Tigers games this year will be fun. Every ball hit toward Miguel at third will be an adven­ture. (Kind of like this.) With two run­ners on and two outs, Ver­lan­der got out of the jam by strik­ing out David Ortiz. Still score­less. 15:01

* Stras­burg is break­ing bats and just mak­ing peo­ple look silly. Fast­ball is in the mid-90s with good move­ment. Lot’s of tail to his two-seamer. 15:13

* On the the AL Cen­tral. Clearly the Tigers are the best team not just in their divi­sion, but pos­si­bly in all of base­ball. The start­ing rota­tion looks a tad shaky, but I’m a fan of Max Scherzer. Doug Fis­ter is a ques­tion mark, as is Rick Por­cello. But they should be able to score lots of runs and they have a wicked good bullpen that will take some of the pres­sure off of the starters.

Cleve­land has a ton of promise, espe­cially with their bats, but I have my doubts that this team can both stay healthy and find sta­bil­ity in the rota­tion. Chicago has the pitch­ing but their hit­ters are get­ting long in the tooth and the young guys haven’t caught my inter­est yet. A lot of peo­ple are fawn­ing over Kansas City, as seems to hap­pen every year, but that club is going to do any­thing. Min­nesota has some pos­i­tive spots, but I doubt that this is an 80-win team. This is kind of a shit divi­sion that Detroit should beat up on. 15:23

* Since I took today off, I decided to check out ESPN’s “First Take”. I fig­ured that they couldn’t pos­si­bly be talk­ing about Tim Tebow con­sid­er­ing that the Mas­ters is start­ing up today and it’s Open­ing Day. Well, they weren’t talk­ing Tebow…but it was still infu­ri­at­ing any­way. Nope, on a major sports day they ded­i­cated two 15-minute or so seg­ments in the first hour to LeBron James and whether or not he is  “clutch” based off one game last night against the Okla­homa City Thun­der. I’m done with First Take and will never, ever watch it again. It’s worse than black tar heroin. 15:28

* Now the AL West. This is the future home of the Hous­ton Astros, and I’m not too happy about it. I’ve already writ­ten about this, but let me just reit­er­ate that this is a com­plete screw job being done to the Astros by Emperor Selig. That means games will start later; this team is not built for the DH; more travel; a tougher divi­sion. But, as Lance Berk­man said, Selig extorted new owner Jim Crane by hold­ing up the sale of the team and giv­ing him a dis­count if he agreed to move. Mind you, that’s a future Hall of Famer say­ing that; shouldn’t that have made more head­lines?

Any­way, on to the West. This is clearly a two-team race between Ana­heim and Texas. Ana­heim has a scary team if Ver­non Wells and Torii Hunter are still effec­tive ballplay­ers. Adding Albert Pujols to that lineup, and with a rota­tion of Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, CJ Wil­son and Ervin San­tana, I think that the Angels might end up with the best over­all record in base­ball.

The Rangers still have a mon­ster offense, but that pitch­ing staff wor­ries me…but, then again, I’ve never really given Texas pitch­ers the credit they deserve. I like Texas for one of the wild card slots.

As for Seat­tle, Ichiro is still my favorite ballplayer to watch and I love Dustin Ack­ley. Jesus Mon­tero is inter­est­ing and Felix Her­nan­dez is a beast. Still, not enough there to com­pete with the Rangers and Angels. The only thing that inter­ests me about Oak­land is Cuban-born Yoe­nis Ces­pedes. After that, nada. 15:42

* Switched back to the Tigers game and Ver­lan­der is throw­ing a gem. Eight innings, no runs, two hits, one walk, seven K’s. Stras­burg got hit just a bit in the fourth but is now through five and has only allowed one run. Johan San­tana, who is also return­ing from injury, pitched five score­less innings on 84 pitches. A pos­i­tive sign for what will likely be a long sea­son for the Mets faith­ful. 15:50

* NL East. The Phillies are get­ting old, but the Big 3 of Roy Hal­la­day, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels should be enough to make the play­offs, espe­cially with Jonathan Papel­bon clos­ing the show in the ninth. Miami is going to be right there with Philly. That is a team that is going to drive teams nuts with all their speed and that big out­field. A lot of ifs here, but IF Josh John­son comes back to form after miss­ing almost all of last sea­son, if Jose Reyes stays healthy, if Mark Buehrle isn’t too old, if Car­los Zam­brano isn’t a corpse, and if Gaby Sanchez pro­gresses past a 19-homer first base­man, then this is the best team in the NL. I’m going to go with Miami in first, fol­lowed closely by Philadel­phia, which will grab a wild card slot.

Atlanta has a really good, young team. You have to respect the hell out of the man­age­ment of that orga­ni­za­tion. We’re talk­ing about two decades of qual­ity base­ball and I think that the Braves have enough to grab the other wild card. But, it won’t be easy because this is a very tough divi­sion.

Wash­ing­ton is at least a year away and the Mets are four years away. 16:04

* Jose Valverde con­verted 49 of 49 save attempts last sea­son. This sea­son, he’s 0 for 1. Valverde ruined Verlander’s bril­liance by allow­ing two runs in the top of the ninth. Tie game. 16:05

* The Mets fin­ished off the Braves 1–0. Philadel­phia beat the Pirates 1–0, with Roy Hal­la­day throw­ing 8 score­less innings of two-hit ball. Paps closed it out. 16:09

* NL Cen­tral. I hate to say it, but this has to be the worst divi­sion in base­ball. The big ques­tion with St. Louis is can Matt Hol­l­i­day, Lance Berk­man, and Car­los Bel­tran both stay healthy and be pro­duc­tive with­out Albert Pujols in the lineup. The pitch­ing staff is nice, espe­cially if Jason Motte is the real thing at closer. I have my doubts though that this team won’t look old by August/September. Mil­wau­kee got VERY lucky that Ryan Braun was granted a pass on being a cheater. I think that Mil­wau­kee will win this divi­sion with about 85 wins.

I like Cincin­nati, but not to win it this year. But, this is the kind of team that if they can stay com­pet­i­tive into August and go out and pick up a big arm, they could sneak in the back door. Pitts­burgh and the Cubs will strug­gle to reach 75 wins, while the Astros will strug­gle to reach 55 wins. Nice way to leave the National League. 16:22

* An Austin Jack­son sin­gle in the bot­tom of the ninth sal­vages a win for Detroit after Valverde’s blown save. 16:23

* I just real­ized that Miami is play­ing the Cincin­nati Reds. Can some­one please explain why they had a one-game “series” against the Car­di­nals yes­ter­day in Miami, and then got shipped up to Cincy? 16:25

* Finally, the NL West. A lot of peo­ple like Ari­zona, but I’m not one of them. I think that Ian Kennedy is going to come back down to Earth, and I am not impressed with that lineup, out­side of Justin Upton, who might just make a run at MVP if Ari­zona does have a good sea­son. I like San Fran­cisco, but that offense is kind of bleak.

I’m actu­ally going to go with the Los Ange­les Dodgers. They have a stud in Clay­ton Ker­shaw and four other really good, capa­ble starters in Chad Billings­ley, Aaron Harang, Ted Lilly and Chris Capuano. If Andre Ethier bounces back and the likes of James Loney, Juan Rivera and Dee Gor­don play at top form, this is the best team in the NL West, espe­cially when add Matt Kemp into the mix.

I just don’t think that the Rock­ies have enough pitch­ing to com­pete this year. Let’s be hon­est, if you need Jamie Moyer to fill out your rota­tion, that is a bad sign. San Diego will pull up the rear. 16:39

* Stras­burg went seven innings, gave up one run on five hits and a walk. He struck out five, threw 82 pitches, 70% of which were strikes. He’ll get a no deci­sion. Good per­for­mance. 16:42

* OK ya’ll, the CMS is being a bit glitchy today so I’m going to call it a wrap. I’m pre­dict­ing a Philadelphia-Anaheim World Series, with the Angels win­ning the whole thing. But for what it’s worth, I have no con­fi­dence in that pre­dic­tion what­so­ever. Feel free to tell us who you think is going to win in the Com­ments sec­tion. Cheers. 16:50