Every year, right before the baseball season begins, my family and I email each other predictions about which team is going to place first in every division, take home the pennant, and win the World Series. At first it was just my dad and I, and I kicked his ass every year. Honestly, I was embarrassed for him. Then last year my brother joined in and destroyed everyone. What an asshole.
This year’s season starts a week from today, so I decided to post my forecast for all of you guys to either argue with or totally ignore because you don’t give a shit about sports.
To make this more interesting, I commissioned my friend Johnny Sacks, the creator and evil genius behind Living With Balls, to send me his predictions and get a competition going on. When my family and I do this, we play for dignity, pride and bragging rights; however, Sacks came up with the idea to administer a points system so somebody comes out looking like an actual loser.
Here’s how it works:
1 point for each division/wild card winner
1 point for each Rookie of the Year
1 point for each most/least improved
2 points for each League Division series
3 points for each League Championship series
5 points for the World Series winner
We also came up with a humiliating compensation prize for whoever doesn’t win (NOT ME): Sacks is a huge Yankees fan, and I go hard for the Mets. That’s why whoever eats shit with this has to put the winner’s favorite team on the side of their blog for a month in a prominent display of asswipe.
Here are both of our posts. I didn't even look at his before I typed this in order to keep a level playing field, and now that I've seen them, mine are clearly
2011 PREDICTIONS: THE THAT AIN'T KOSHER/LIVING WITH BALLS EDITION
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
JOHNNY SACKS: Boston Red Sox
I hate to admit this as a Yankees fan, but the Red Sox are STACKED. They added Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to an already potent line-up and their pitching staff is one of the best in baseball. Jon Lester and Clay Bucholz are entering the prime of their careers and should get even better. Meanwhile, the Yankees, who are usually very busy during the off-season, did nothing but sign fat pitchers past their prime.
NUGS: Boston Red Sox
The Sox were my World Series pick for last year, but due to a slew of injuries and a slumping Josh Beckett, they wound up with a disappointing finish while the Yankees came out on top (again). Now, with the off-season acquisitions of former Ray Carl Crawford and Padres powerhouse Adrian Gonzalez, as well as a full, healthy line-up and a seriously nasty rotation, the Sox are taking their team all the way to the finish.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
JOHNNY SACKS: Minnesota Twins
The Twins have been well-operated and well-managed for decades now and they’ve managed to be successful despite a small payroll. But now, with a new stadium, the money is rolling in and the Twins have money to spend. They are now loaded with talent and are well-managed. This is always a good combination. Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan should be back at 100 percent following season-ending injuries last season. They managed to do well without those guys last season, so their return will only make them better.
NUGS: Detroit Tigers
Every year I go with the White Sox and they totally fuck me over. This division is usually a pretty close race for the top three with Detroit, Minnesota and Chicago, but I had to pick the Tigers this year because of the key moves they made during the off-season.
Detroit finished with a 500 record last year, both winning and losing 81 games. However, with Jim Leyland entering into the final year of his contract, he’s pulled in some stellar new signings with Joaquin Benoit and Victor Martinez, and held onto Jhonny Peralta, Magglio Ordonez and Brandon Inge. Leyland has consistently performed as one of the best managers in the MLB, and the Tigers are insane if they don’t extend his contract.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
JOHNNY SACKS: Texas Rangers
Even though the Rangers lost out on the Cliff Lee bidding war, I still think they will be the best team in the West. None of the other teams in the division did anything significant to make me believe they will outplay Texas. The Rangers' offense should be very potent once again and their staff, led by C.J. Wilson, should be good enough for them to win their second straight AL West Crown.
NUGS: Texas Rangers
I’m predicting great things for Texas. Coming directly off of last year’s World Series, the Rangers still have the best starting lineup in the AL West, and their pitching is still a force, even without Cliff Lee, who went to Philly (ugh- more on those douchebags later). None of the teams in their division made any significant changes to their staff, and the fight that the Rangers put up for Lee, even though they eventually lost, shows that they’re willing to go the distance to take home the AL Pennant for the second straight year.
JOHNNY SACKS: New York Yankees
Though the Yankees didn’t do much in the off-season, they are still have a ton of weapons. There are a lot of question marks with their pitching staff—most notably A.J. Burnett—but their powerful offense and the left arm of C.C. Sabathia should be enough to get them to 90 wins. Look for prospects Ivan Nova and Jesus Montero to step up for the Yanks as well.
NUGS: New York Yankees
Come on. They’re the Yankees. As much as I hate them, (and I really, really do) don’t let the fact that they pretty much sat on their ass during the off-season fool you. Their pitching is shaky, but they still have Mariano Rivera, whose skills as a closer can’t even compare to anyone that ever stepped onto the mound. 2010 was the worst year of shortstop Derek Jeter’s career, but a bad year for Jeter is still a decent year for 90% of ball players. Apparently a lot’s been done into reshaping A.J. Burnett, who last year left a ton of Yankees fans (namely my brother) practically suicidal.
Besides, they’re the Yankees. If they don’t make the playoffs, they’ll just pay someone to slip them in there.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
JOHNNY SACKS: Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies probably have the best starting rotation since the Atlanta Braves turned out Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Steve Avery in the early 90s. Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee should dominate as usual and Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt aren’t exactly slouches either. The Phillies have lost a lot on offense with Jayson Werth leaving for Washington and Chase Utley likely missing the beginning of the season but it shouldn’t matter. The Phillies pitching will lead them to 100 wins.
NUGS: Stupid Phillies
Words cannot express the depths of my loathing for the Phillies, now made even stronger thanks to the addition of SP Cliff Lee. Seriously, is their rotation even legal? With a pitching staff that includes Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton, at one point the first four guys on the mound shared a collective ERA of 2.8.
My only comfort is that their lineup is good on paper; however their top players are not only aging, but battling injuries from last season. 2B Chase Utley is still nursing his bad hip; not to mention he’s 32 years old. I hope he gets a fastball to the head.
Whatever. Their offense doesn’t matter. Their pitching will dominate and lead them to the World Series, and I will be a total bitch during the entire month of October.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
JOHNNY SACKS: Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers have shown potential the past few seasons but have been unable to make a deep playoff run. This could be the year that changes. The addition of Zack Greinke should make a rotation that already has Yovani Gallardo very formidable. Meanwhile, their lineup is dangerous with Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Casey McGehee likely doing lots of damage once again. The Cardinals lost their ace pitcher and should drop in the standings this season—and though I love the Reds’ offense I don’t like their pitching staff. The drop-off by those two teams should allow for the Brewers to take the division crown.
NUGS: Cincinnati Reds
The Reds have a good, young team whose potential will only continue to grow. They have a sick offense and one of the best third basemen in baseball with Scott Rolen, an eight-time Gold Glove winner who would have been my pick for MVP last year had he had not suffered a back injury in the second half of the season. With the Cardinals no longer the threat they used to be, the Reds can look to contend for a while.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
JOHNNY SACKS: San Francisco Giants
The defending champs should once again take the NL West title. The young rotation, highlighted by Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner is one of the best in baseball and, as you saw last season, their offense is just good enough to get by.
WEST: San Francisco Giants
The defending World Series champs can look to take the NL West title for the second year in a row. Their rotation is almost as formidable as the Phillies’, with Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner’s ridiculous ERA’s. San Fran’s rotation also has youth on their side- only Barry Zito is in his thirties.
Their lineup is also pretty decent- they can boast catcher Buster Posey, SS Miguel Tejada and OF Pat Burrell. Combined with the Giants’ pitching staff, this formula is more than enough for a solid 90 wins.
JOHNNY SACKS: Colorado Rockies
The Rockies locked up sluggers Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez in the off-season and that should go a long way in helping them make a playoff run. These two guys are scary good and should have monster seasons once again. Ubaldo Jimenez will lead the Rockies staff once again and should be a Cy Young candidate.
WILD CARD: Milwaukee Brewers
My dad likes the Brewers every year, and this time I agree with him. Much like the Reds, Milwaukee has a solid young team that will continue to impress and expand. With the acquisition of Zack Greinke as their ace, their pitching staff should finally get Milwaukee that playoff spot they deserve.
This is one instance where hitting trumps pitching- their offense is one of the monsters of the Major League. With a lineup that includes Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Corey Hart, the Brewers have made sure that the race for the NL Central will be close for a long time.
BTW, does anyone else wonder if Corey Hart wears his sunglasses at night?
AL DIVISION SERIES
YANKEES over TWINS 3-2
The Yankees will once again get the best of the Twins in the Division series. Sabathia wins game 1 and 5 to send them back to the ALCS.
RED SOX over RANGERS 3-0
The Sox will steamroll the Rangers and meet up with their hated rivals in the ALCS.
YANKEES over TIGERS 4-1
Unfortunately, the Tigers will be no match for the Yankees. The Tigers may get in one win, but the Yanks will take it back and advance.
RED SOX over RANGERS 3-0
I gotta go with Sacks on this one- the Sox will destroy the Rangers and go head-to-head with the Yankees in another epic rivalry.
AL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
JONNY SACKS: RED SOX over YANKEES 4-2
This will be an exciting series, but in the end, the Red Sox are just a little bit better.
NUGS: RED SOX over YANKEES 4-2
Again, I have to agree. And I will root deliciously for the Sox. Not because I’m SUCH a fan, but because any team that wants the Yankees to lose that badly is OK by me.
NL DIVISION SERIES
PHILLIES over ROCKIES 4-1
The Phillies Staff will shut down the Rockies offense.
BREWERS over GIANTS 3-2
The Brewers will upset the defending champs in five games.
STUPID PHILLIES over BREWERS 4-1
Unfortunately for the Brewers, they’ll keep coming THISCLOSE but they still just won’t quite make it. Relax, though, Milwaukee- I have a feeling they’re only a couple of seasons away.
GIANTS over REDS 4-1
The Reds won't even come close.
NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
JOHHNY SACKS: PHILLIES over BREWERS 4-1
The Brewers will run out of steam in the NLCS and the Phillies will beat them rather easily.
NUGS: STUPID PHILLIES over GIANTS 3-2
The Stupid Phillies will once again meet up with the Giants in a pitching rivalry that resembles a series I could have posted on What If Sports. Unfortunately, the Stupid Phillies are out for blood, and they’ll best San Fran, 3 wins to 2.
JOHNNY SACKS: RED SOX over PHILLIES 4-3
Ugh…I can’t believe I just wrote that the Red Sox are going to win the World Series. Hopefully I’m dead wrong. The Phillies staff will meet its match when it goes up against Boston. Lester, Bucholz and Lackey should match the Phillies playoff rotation. Meanwhile, the Sox offense and bullpen is superior to Philly’s, which should give them the edge in the series.
NUGS: STUPID PHILLIES over RED SOX 4-3
Much like Sacks, it’s time for me to admit that the sports team I loathe the most is more than likely going to take the most coveted spot. I detest the Stupid Phillies so much that I pray nightly for them all to be locked in a burning cave filled with lava and three-headed angry gorillas that will only play Rebecca Black videos.
Basically, what this year’s Series comes down to is Starting Rotation vs. Bullpen, and unfortunately, Boston’s Jonathan Papelbon is no match for the Stupid Phillies’ nausea-inducing one through four.
JOHNNY SACKS: Robinson Cano, 2B New York Yankees
Cano had the best season of his career last season and I think he’ll be even better this year. A five-tool player, Cano will hit .320 this season with 30+ homers and 100+ RBI’s, while also playing a stellar second base.
NUGS: Dustin Pedroia, 2B Boston Red Sox
This one was tough. It will definitely be someone from the Red Sox, an organization that will turn themselves around and make it to the World Series. If I absolutely had to narrow it down to one, my pick would be 2B Dustin Pedroia, who ended 2010 with an injury and is expected to not only bounce back this year, but return to form and help lead the team to the AL Championship.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
JOHNNY SACKS: Jesus Montero: C New York Yankees
The Yankees prized prospect is expected to start the season as the back-up catcher in 2011. When Russell Martin is inevitably is hitting .230 with two HR’s in June, Montero will take over the starting job. Montero will come in and help the Yankees make a playoff run just like another catching prospect, Buster Posey, did for the Giants last season.
NUGS: Jesus Montero, C New York Yankees
I can’t believe I’m giving another award to the Yankees, but this guy is only 21 and has all the calibers to be a stellar investment. Considering the Yankees didn’t do jack shit during the off-season, the fact that they went out and spent money on Montero probably means something.
JOHNNY SACKS: Troy Tulowitzki, SS Colorado Rockies
Tulowitzki had a ridiculous season a year ago, despite missing more than a month with a broken wrist. The guy missed 40 games last season and still nearly hit 30 homers and drove in 100 runs. Considering he plays a premium position, if he puts up numbers like that over the course of a full season then he’ll be a shoo-in for MVP.
NUGS: Prince Fielder, 1B Milwaukee Brewers
When the Brewers get to the NL Division Series, it will be largely in part to Fielder. As long as he can keep his attitude in check, he should be a lock for NL MVP.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
JOHNNY SACKS: Aroldis Chapman, RP Cincinnati Reds
The fire-baller from Cuba joined the Reds major league roster late in the season and did not disappoint. His fastball reached 100 mph regularly and at times he looked dominant. Whether he starts or relieves in 2011 he should show be tough to hit.
NUGS: Aroldis Chapman, RP Cincinnati Reds
I wish I could be different and go with somebody else, but this kid is already being referred to as the “Cuban Missile.” He’s 22 and is already arguably the hardest-throwing pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball, and he’s been drafted by a team that is expected to get to the NL Championship Series. He’s what Charlie Sheen calls winning.
JOHNNY SACKS: Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers went 77-85 a season ago. I see them adding anywhere from 10-15 wins to that mark this season. Prince Fielder is playing for a new contract and Zack Greinke should help their pitching staff.
NUGS: Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers are definitely going to be baseball’s most improved house. Not only will they make the playoffs, but they’ll continue to rise and will dominate enough to possibly get to the 2012 World Series.
JOHNNY SACKS: St. Louis Cardinals
The loss of Adam Wainwright is a killer for the Cardinals. They won 86 games a year ago and without Wainwright, there is no way they crack the .500 mark. I say 78 wins at the most for St. Louis.
NUGS: San Diego Padres
There is no way in Hell the Padres are going to win 90 games this season, especially not when they share a division with the Giants.
NUGS' SPECIAL CRYSTAL BALL FOR THE METS:
Not only will they continue to suck and make me cry, but the entire team will be fired and replaced by puppies and kitties in uniform. When that fails, a baby will be named as their ace, and I will be put in the outfield as well as a bunch of seventh graders. With that genius move, we will finally win more than 11 games and I will be named as manager, general manager and owner.
The winner will be announced a couple of days after the World Series, when I've had time to tally the points and