Baseball back with a vengeance, preseason picks abound

What’s better to do than to look at every division and pick teams to win each division, eventually choosing a World Series champion, so here it goes: AL East – This division has been the most heated for decades. The hated rivalry between the Red Sox and the Yankees has become so intense that a butter knife is not even needed to cut the tension. The rivalry will cause both teams to self-destruct and will rocket the Blue Jays into first place in the division. The Red Sox self-destruction will be less destructive and they will get the Wild Card spot. AL Central – With the White Sox coming off their World Championship performance, only a championship will be tolerated this year. Too bad they won’t even make the playoffs. Kansas City, who recently went on an eleven game losing streak, will once again finish the season will the worst record in the division, as well as the honor of being the worst team in the Major Leagues. The AL Central will be a race to the finish between the Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins. The Twins will sprint to the finish and come out on top. AL West – This will be the most competitive division in the American League. All of the teams are equally average and only the most average of the teams will come out on top. The Mariners have Ichiro, the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) have Vladimir Guerrero, the Rangers have Buck Showalter, and the Athletics have a pretty rockin’ pitching staff with Rich Harden and Barry Zito. If the past has told us anything it’s that “rockin’ pitching staffs” always come out on top (and that time machines will never be invented or else someone would have come to our time thanks to a time machine and told us about them), the Athletics will win the AL East. AL Playoffs – Out of these four teams, only one will come out on top and that team will represent the American League in the World Series. The Blue Jays play in Canada, so they automatically lose. The Red Sox apparently don’t know how to spell the word “socks”, so they lose. This only leaves two teams left. Athletics rhymes with pathetic(s) while Twin has the word “win” in its name. Twins win. NL East – The Atlanta Braves have been dominant in this division for the last decade and a half. This year they will be put to the test. The New York Mets are finally starting to play like their payroll says they should be playing. With the highest payroll in the National Leagues, fifth highest in the National League, and the Mets have consistently underperformed, finishing near the bottom of the conference standings on a regular basis. This division will be fought between the Braves and the Mets and will be won by the Mets and their large payroll. NL Central – Some of the most popular teams (for fans of baseball in Ames) play in this division and will be determined to make their Ames fans proud. The Chicago Cubs will have problems winning with their best player, Derek Lee, breaking two bones above his right wrist. He will be out for two months along with pitchers Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, who now have a permanent spot on the DL. The Houston Astros and the Cincinnati Reds have gotten off to a rocketing start and a red-hot start, respectively, but will cool off eventually and leave the division open. The St. Louis Cardinals have a great team and will win the division easily. With their strong pitching staff which includes Chris Carpenter, Mark Mulder, and Jason Isringhausen, the Cardinals won’t need to score many runs to win games. Albert Pujols, their first basemen and early frontrunner for MVP, will give the team the runs they need and they will end up with the best record in the Major Leagues. The Cubs will get the Wild Card spot. NL West – There is something about divisions in the West that make them extremely competitive and extremely average. All five teams in the division will hover around the .500 winning percentage level all year and it’s a shame that even one of these teams makes the playoffs. The Colorado Rockies will eventually fall apart like they do every year and the San Francisco Giants will crumble due to all of the Barry Bonds controversies that will haunt them all year. A team that is giving Chan Ho Park 15+ million dollars this year (the San Diego Padres) can’t be smart enough to win the division and a team whose managers last name is Melvin is destined to fail, which leaves the Dodgers. The Dodgers will win the division, but they will finish with a sub-.500 record to cap off an embarrassing year for the NL West. NL Playoffs – The Los Angeles Dodgers will lose quickly and painlessly and end their dismal season. The Chicago Cubs who suffered from injuries for the whole season will continue to be plagued with injuries and won’t be able to outperform the rest of the league. This leaves the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Mets. Both teams have great pitching and a very powerful batting line-up, but the Cardinals have proven to be a successful team in previous years and their experience will prevail. The St. Louis Cardinals will win the NL Playoffs. World Series – Cardinals vs. Twins. This is a great match-up of two great Midwestern teams that have the support of fans nationwide. The series will go down to the wire thanks to some great pitching performances. The Twins will come up short in game seven and the Cardinals will win the World Series and Albert Pujols will be name the World Series MVP.