Sunday, June 20, 2010

Colonel Mustard Strikes Again!

We use our Preseason Predictions as the standard to review at the end of the year. Still, we like to take another look at what our crystal ball would forecast from different times during this season.

Let's take the pulse of Major League Baseball today, Father's Day, Sunday, June 20.

Yesterday, friends of the blog Weino, Osh, and Colonel Mustard sat in our Cubs seats for an interleague match against the Angels. (photo of Colonel Mustard courtesy of Osh.)

Some of us could see this weekend's series at Wrigley Field as the rematch of the World Series in "Taking Care of Business".

Not to get all Sports Guy on us, but a quick background for the younger readers: "Taking Care of Business" was a 1990 movie starring Jim Belushi & Charles Grodin, with baseball cameos from Mark Grace, Bert Blyleven, and Joe Torre.

The story revolved around Belushi's character taking over Charles Grodin's life, sort of a wickledly less funny Trading Places feel, as he gets his ex-con hands on Grodin's invaluable Filofax. It's interesting how similar movies seem to come out at the same times. "TCoB" was sort of like Dana Carvey's 1990 comedy, "Opportunity Knocks".

I also think a remake could be cool to see if Blackberry, Iphone, Ipad, Motorola Droid, etc would bid over the product placement in a remake. Do you think they could cast Belushi again in the remake?

Here he is in 1990...

And, this is him more recently...

A remake of "Taking Care of Business" might also be the only way I could see the Cubs in a World Series any time soon. They could even play the Angels again, to keep the story in Southern California.

Speaking of the Angels, did anyone else notice that Darin Erstad just retired? I haven't been keeping up with the local sports pages online for a little while, so I'm not too sure what anyone other than Joe Posnanski and the good folks at mlbtr are talking about.

Erstad only made two All-Star teams, but he was a good defender at various positions, while hitting enough to do well in the counting stats. After splitting time with baseball and spring football his sophmore year, he was the starting punter for Coach Tom Osborne's 1994 National Champion Nebraska Cornhuskers. Tommie Frazier and Lawrence Phillips were the offensive stars of that team.

The Head Coach of my High School's Track and Cross Country program, Coach Hanson, went to Nebraska. He used to joke: "Do you know what the 'N' on Nebraska's football field stands for?" Punchiline: "Knowledge".

Okay, I digress, we are almost at the midway point of the season. Here are our predictions for final standings, postseason, and awards:

NL East

The Braves and Mets are playing really, really well right now. With the competitive Marlins and improving Nationals, the future of this division is bright. It could become like the NFC East where all the teams can look good on paper headed into some seasons.

NL Central

The Cardinals should cruise through September, and the Reds look like they will contend for the next few years. Remember when Dusty Baker teams in San Francisco used to know how to turn it on and win divisions at the end of the year? He might still have that ability to get 25 guys to buy into what they are doing and just go out at win ballgames. I'm not sure how much of that is revisionist history, actual managerial ability, or just plain nonsense.

NL West

Losing Tulowitzki is a devastating blow to the Rockies, but we love this division, too. The Diamondbacks are not that far away from being contenders again. I think that future trades will decide who wins this division. The Giants need hitting, which is easier to get than pitching. Also, the Dodgers supposed ability to absorb contracts will help them in negotiating trades against other clubs who cannot take on money.

NL MVP: Albert Pujols
He doesn't have the best numbers, for once, but my instincts tell me that he's still young and strong enough to have another otherworldly 2nd Half.

NL CY Young: Ubaldo Jimenez
Speaking of otherworldly, Ubaldo is using two distinct blazing fastballs to slice and dice the strikezone from coast to coast. As many of you know, he's a Rockies pitcher with a 13-1 with a 1.15 ERA.

It's true that in these days of the humidor, being a Rockies pitcher doesn't mean what it used to. Balls aren't flying out of Coors Field like during the days of the Blake Street Bombers. The ball is certainly not as lively, but the high altitude still hampers pitching. Breaking pitches, like Curveballs, Sliders, Screwballs, and Slurves, do not break as sharply in the thin air of Colorado like they would at altitudes closer to Sea Level.

NL Rookie of the Year
Jason Heyward
There's a chance Heyward struggles in the 2nd half and/or Stephen Strasburg does something like go 11-0 with a sub-3.00 ERA and 150 Strikeouts, which could spark some lively debate.

NL Manager of the Year
Bruce Bochy
Love the 'stache man.

Cardinals over Padres
Giants over Phillies

Giants over Cardinals

AL East
Red Sox
Blue Jays

To survive in the AL East, you need a team that is almost perfect. You can't really have a hole in the lineup, unless he provides world class defense. You need a starting rotation full of guys who could step up and pitch like an ace more often than not. To us, it feels like the Red Sox starting pitchers are struggling to consistently shut down other lineups the way they should. Beckett, Matsuzaka, and Lackey, we're looking at you.

AL Central
White Sox

This team used to be more exciting, I thought, with teams on the rise, etc. Instead, it's a bunch of never has beens trying to compete with the Gardy and the 21st Century M&M boys from Minnesota. The Indians and Royals are having miserable seasons, and it seems like the White Sox are talking a much better game than they've been playing.

AL West

When I was in Vegas for my bachelor party a few months ago, I placed a bet on Argentina to with the World Cup, at 7-to-1 odds.

I was looking at MLB props and thought the Mariners were a lock to win the Division, and they had pretty good odds, too. It's good that I didn't have too enough Myers & Coke's or Kettle Kaucasians to put my money where my mouth was. The Mariners' inability to score runs was evident in the offseason, which overwhelmed the attributes of a very good defensive team with two bonafide Aces in Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee.

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
Robinson Cano, Justin Morneau, Kevin Youkilis, Evan Longoria, and several other guys can eventually take home the hardware.

AL CY Young: Cliff Lee
If he gets traded to the National League, I would think the race would open up a bit to the likes of Liriano, Verlander, King Felix, maybe even Phil Hughes or David Price.

AL Rookie of the Year: Carlos Santana
Austin Jackson is off to a hot start, although he's had to battle a few injuries. It's unclear to us who all is eligible for this award, but if Santana pops 19+ Homeruns, while catching, couldn't he be the leader? It's strange this year, all the best rookie stats are going to come from the NL, with Strasburg, Heyward, Leake, Posey, Stanton, etc.

AL Manager of the Year: Ron Washington
As we learned in spring training, we don't want to miss the party at Wash's!

Yankees over Twins
Rays over Rangers

Yankees over Rays

2010 World Series
Yankees over Giants

Who do the brilliant readers think are going to square off in the World Series? Any other predictions out there?