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Baseball with Berndon: Cheating on the Exam

April 13, 2010

In this edition of "BBE," Berndon gives us his thoughts on the first week and his predictions as to how the season will play out.

Cheating on the Exam
With the baseball season already a week old, I’ve outsmarted all of the other people who’ve made predictions by waiting a week to make mine. Now after seeing 1 out of a possible 24 weeks of the season, I know everything. The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to contend for the wild card, while the Yankees might want to forget about the Rays and Red Sox, saving their collective energy dealing with the Toronto Blue Jays. Meanwhile, the networks better get their “Moneyball” references, and the late 80’s Bash Brothers footage ready, because the low-budget Oakland A’s are back. The Angels run as perennial division winners is over. Jorge Cantu is going to end up with 280 RBI, and both Vernon Wells and Nelson Cruz are going to end up with 115 taters a piece. I think that’s going to be a record of some sort.

There are three reasons why I waited a week to predict anything. First of all, I’m generally a lazy person and with the unprecedented success of my college basketball writing this season, I figured I could rest on my laurels a little bit. Secondly, I genuinely know that I want to write about baseball a lot. I actually would have to rank baseball slightly ahead of CBK if I had to list my favorite sports. I just don’t know how I want to do it yet. And lastly, I wanted to gain a slight edge with getting my predictions correct. I cheated on tests and quizzes quite a bit in my formative years, and I’m channeling my inner middle and high school persona in looking at the first 5-10 answers, taking the rest of the test legitimately. So, without further ado, here’s how I see the races playing out after a week is in the books.

AL Wild Card: Red Sox over Tampa Bay in a one game playoff
ALDS: Red Sox over Texas, Yankees over Minnesota
NLDS: Cubs over Philly, San Francisco over St. Louis
ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees
NLCS: San Francisco over Cubs
World Series: Red Sox over San Francisco

CY Young: Roy Halladay and Brett Anderson
MVP: Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriquez
Rookie of the Year: Jason Heyward and Austin Jackson
Manager of the Year: Bruce Bochy and Ron Washington
Batting Champs: Pablo Sandoval and Robinson Cano

Random 1st Week Storylines
You’re my Boy Blue?: It seems like the umpiring could be a big story if things stay as they have the first week. Not only did the morbidly obese Joe West call out the two best teams in the game for playing too slow, but in the games I watched, I saw a lot of really tiny strike zones. This resulted in a good amount of 8-7 type games that are entertaining, but not necessarily ERA-friendly. The umps need to do a better job calling the closer pitches, and make the hitters put the ball in play.

No Relief in Sight: Closers and bullpens in general had a horrific start to the season. I won’t even mention the Cubs, specifically a certain former Notre Dame wide receiver who can only throw one pitch and yet for some unknown reason I still thinks he’s good enough to be a starter. Mike Gonzalez, Chris Perez, Frank Francisco, and Trevor Hoffman all have had issues. Luckily at press time none of the above hurlers are on my fantasy squad.

The “J Hey Kid”: Even being a Cub fan, I got goosebumps watching Heyward tee off against Carlos Zambrano on Opening Day in the ATL. The place went absolutely ballistic, with a playoff-level frenzy not often seen during the regular season. When Chipper Jones gave him a hug after he rounded home plate, it was like a torch was passed, with Jones saying, “it’s your team now big fella.”

Philadelphia Freedom: Everyone who knows a little bit about beisbol knew Philly would have a potent offense. But they started off on a torrid pace that’s going to make it arduous to pitch to anybody in that lineup all year. Their regulars went for a .335 combined average, with an OBP of .420. Placido Polanco, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Jayson Werth are all hitting above .348. At this rate, Roy Halladay might go 35-0.

Aces: Speaking of Hallday, he highlighted an iffy week for the elite starting pitchers in the game. Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Ubaldo Jimenez, Mark Buehrle, Jered Weaver, C.C. Sabathia, and Scott Feldman all proved why they are number one starters on their respective teams, while Justin Verlander, Josh Beckett, Felix Hernandez, Josh Johnson, Johan Santana, and Carlos Zambrano struggled with control and long ball blemishes.

Chicago Baseball: After a week, it’s still unclear whether the Windy City has two contenders, or two over budget 3rd or 4th place teams in their midst. The Cubbies have gotten stellar starting pitching with the exception of Big Z’s meltdown on opening day, yet haven’t hit the ball and are still figuring out who’s going to pitch where in the 6th-8th innings. The White Sox have also gotten good starts, but they too haven’t hit and have struggled with inconsistency in the pen. Either team still could be pretty good or they could flame out.

Photo Source: 1, 2, 3


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