Professional baseball has officially started. All the clues are there:
- I had my semi-annual haircut. That’s no joke, it’s an absolute necessity if I’m going to wear my Mariners’ cap on Opening Day. See that picture of me over at the right side of the blog? That was taken shortly after a haircut. Copy/paste the beard to the top of my head three or four times and you’ll have a pretty good indication of how I look just before I get sheared.
- The cats have had their official Opening Day treat (). It’s not the greatest stuff in the world–the first ingredient is “fish”. I hadn’t realized that there was an official generic fish. Or maybe it’s an ISO standard fish? But I digress. A little junk food once a year isn’t going to hurt them, and they all–yes, even Sachiko, who’s declared her allegience to the Giants–enjoyed their Mariner’s Catch.
- The pre-Opening Day made-for-TV broadcast game has been played. As we’ve seen, MLB likes to have a game or two before the official start of the season. In recent years, those games have been in exotic locations, part of MLB’s missionary program to spread the True Faith around the globe. We’ve seen games in Japan and Australia, and this year the Cardinals and Cubs faced off in, uh, Chicago. There are plenty of baseball fans–including Cubs fans–who’ll tell you that professional-caliber baseball hasn’t been played in Chicago since World War II, but still, Chicago is a bit of a come-down from Tokyo and Sydney.
Cubs fans are riding high this year, because the Cubs World Series victory has been predicted by no less an authority than the Back To the Future movie franchise. Of course, those same movies predicted that the Series would change from a best of seven format to a best of nine format, a modification new commissioner Rob Manfred has yet to announce. Still. It seems almost churlish to point out that the Cubs’ quest for glory started inauspiciously with Sunday’s 3-0 loss.
As I write this, the season is 0.671% over; every team has played one game. Prediction from small numbers can be tricky, but what the heck, I’ll give it a shot. With the help of the cats, last year I successfully semi-predicted the Angels would win the AL West. That was before any AL games had been played; this year I don’t have the cats’ assistance, but I do have actual, in-season data to work with. I’ve put together a secret formula based in part on team records to date and margin of victory. So, here for your pleasure are the 2015 playoff teams.
In the American League, the division winners will be Boston, Kansas City (10-1 over the White Sox counts for a lot), and Seattle (low margin of victory is misleading, given the Ms’ habit of underscoring when Felix pitches). The wild cards will go to Toronto and Baltimore*.
* Why the Orioles over the As? Shouldn’t that 8-0 pounding of Texas be significant? Uh-uh. The As are going to find out what the Mariners have learned over the past decade: you can’t ride one dominant pitcher to the playoffs. And did you really think I’d predict anything good for Oakland?
The National League will be ably represented by the division-winning Mets, Reds*, and Rockies, with the Cardinals and Phillies (desperation will beat out the Dodger’s complacency) snagging the wild card slots.
* You could make a case for the Cardinals shutout of the Cubs, but I find the Reds’ three-run victory over the Pirates marginally more impressive; I think Pittsburgh is a stronger team than the Cubs. Sorry, Cubbies. Reliance on ’80s movies–and sequels at that–isn’t going to score runs.
Remember, you heard it here first. Get your bets down now, before Las Vegas changes the odds!
“… you can’t ride one dominant pitcher to the playoffs.” But, as the Orioles proved last year … you can ride NO dominant pitchers into the playoffs. What we lack in an ace pitcher, we make up for in quantity … six starters at last count. My panel of expert non-experts (including a lawyer, a first grader, 2 Brits, and a cat) assure me that the Braves will win the World Series (in 5 over the Red Sox). Their certainty breaks my Oriole heart … at least they didn’t pick the Yankees …
I was pleased to see that your birds will be making the playoffs this year. Note, however, that the Braves will not. Clearly your panel of non-experts dropped a decimal point somewhere. Just wait. You’ll see.
I think there’s a lot of value in the six man rotation, especially if you don’t have a couple of awesome arms on the staff. That extra day of rest really does seem to make a difference as you drag into August and September.
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