Ah, Opening Day.
You could practically smell the hot dogs and grass, if it weren’t so cold you couldn’t feel your face.
Nonetheless, Opening Day has always been one of my favorite days. It was the only day of the year my parents would let me skip school, so I could watch the first Red Sox game.
If the Sox won, I would inevitably predict they would go 162-0. If they lost, I would tell everyone it was just a slip-up, and they’d bounce back and go 161-1. (Editor’s Note: This was in the early 1990s, when the Red Sox were the joke of the major leagues).
I’ll be honest, it’s a little hard to get excited with freezing rain and snow pounding my window. But for the sake of time-honored tradition, I will make my 2009 MLB Predictions.
In six months, I will inevitably look back at these predictions and weep in shame, but until then, I will stand by them with the same conviction that General Custer defended Little Big Horn. Without further ado:
AL EAST: Boston Red Sox
AL CENTRAL: Cleveland Indians
AL WEST: Anaheim Angels
AL WILD CARD: Tampa Rays
NL EAST: New York Mets
NL CENTRAL: Chicago Cubs
NL WEST: Los Angeles Dodgers
NL WILD CARD: Atlanta Braves
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Cubs
AL MVP: David Ortiz
NL MVP: Albert Pujols
AL Cy Young: Josh Beckett
NL Cy Young: Josh Johnson
AL Rookie of the Year: Travis Snider
NL Rookie of the Year: Jordan Schafer
I’d like to point out the AL East is tough. Boston, Tampa and New York are the three best teams in baseball, hands down. Any one of them could win the division or get the Wild Card berth. Don’t be surprised if the Yankees and Rays finish first and second. Anything is possible in that division.
Nonetheless, I believe Boston has the deepest rotation — John Smoltz is their No. 4 starter. John Smoltz! — and will eventually come out on top.
The Sox also have Brad Penny, who started the 2006 All-Star Game for the National League, and Ol’ Reliable Tim Wakefield, as their fifth and six starters. Just sick. And they have a slew of young studs waiting in the wings like Clay Buckholz and Michael Bowden, who are ready to contribute if necessary.
In the end, pitching wins championship. They have the best pitching.
Throw in a healthy David Ortiz, who is eager to disprove his critics, and Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, who finished first and third in MVP voting last year and are getting better, and the Red Sox will be tough to beat. Call me a homer, but the Sox are your 2009 MLB champions.