Have you been feeling slightly off as of late? Does your controversially heavy backpack put even more of a strain on your spine at the moment? Does the end of the semester seem to be about as close to getting here as an NBA championship for the Utah Jazz?
Well, feel no shame, my friend, for you are not alone. Spring looms around the corner (after a particularly frosty winter), and by gum, it’s about time things warmed up around here. The flowers will soon be blooming, finals week will have passed, your allergies will be gone . . . and the Jazz will still have zero championships.
But that’s OK. If there is one thing I can think of to heat up my spirit and bring some early spring, it’s Opening Day. It gets its own name — it’s that good.
Major League Baseball teams have spent the last month earning money in the warm, attractive weather of Florida and Arizona and giving half of their effort playing preseason games that don’t really count for anything. The life of an athlete! But playtime is over, and now the real work begins. Once Opening Day rolls around, there are only 162 possible games in which a team can mosey into a wild-card spot.
I kid, I kid. All snarky comments aside, springtime means baseball time, and this is the best remedy I can prescribe for anyone feeling the pre-spring blues.
The MLB season kicks off today, and it will begin a promising year of America’s favorite pastime. Although I am never very good at predicting anything, I will still do my best to place down my bets for the teams most likely to make it to October. (Warning: Considering that half of those reading are Yankees or Red Sox fans, I would advise you to stop reading now.)
The National League is likely to produce the 2013 World Series champion. Coming out of the East, the Washington Nationals are the clear favorite to win the division and the team most likely to bring home the championship trophy with its solid pitching, outstanding young talent and great management.
The Cincinnati Reds, who were very underrated with the second-best MLB record in 2012, will be winning the central division and making a solid postseason run.
The NL West will provide an amusing race to produce a division winner. While the Los Angeles Dodgers are the favorite to win the division after bulking up their roster over the past two years, MLB defending champion the San Francisco Giants will be tight in the running as well. Don’t count out the Arizona Diamondbacks or even the San Diego Padres as potential sleepers or possible NL Wild Card teams.
As for the American League, the central division is basically a lock. The Detroit Tigers will win with Justin Verlander on the mound and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera at the plate.
The AL West is anyone’s guess, although the Texas Rangers seem to be the most likely to win. The Los Angeles Angels will be right behind them (backed by probable AL MVP winner and former Salt Lake Bee Mike Trout), and the Oakland Athletics (another undervalued 2012 team) will be right in the mix.
Lastly, the AL East will produce the biggest surprises. The team most likely to win the division is the Tampa Bay Rays (due to excellent pitching in recent years), but don’t look past the Toronto Blue Jays to make a push after signing Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey in the offseason.
The postseason will be messy, but it will be the pitchers who come out on top. Due to their high skill levels in pitching, the Washington Nationals and the Tampa Bay Rays will represent the National and American Leagues in the World Series. The Nationals, however, will come away as champions.
Sit back and relax. Opening Day is here! Enjoy spring, the new season, and distract yourselves from the last few games on the Utah Jazz schedule.