HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
April 2, 2006

World Series winner will be Grrreeat

By Matt Kane

Today is one of my favorite sports days of the year. It’s opening day for 26 major league teams, and games will be on one of the ESPNs all day, meaning I have a date with my couch at noon, when the Devil Rays and Yankees kick off the five-game card.

Mondays are usually my semi-day off during the week, so, come noon, I will be on the couch with the remote control in one hand and a plump, juicy Buffalo wing in the other.

While I’m licking the wing sauce out of my goatee and moustache (Did you know there is a web site dedicated to beards? www.beards.org), I will, at the same time, be bashing the Yankees and cheering for the always-underdog Devil Rays.

I’m afraid the Devil Rays will again be the basement team in the National League East, which leads me to the point of this column, my predictions.

As for the Yankees, they will again win the AL East for the 10th consecutive season, but it will not be easy. The Red Sox have what looks to be the best starting rotation, but I think the Toronto Blue Jays’ bats will trump the Boston hurlers, and finish second to the pinstripers.

But the Blue Jays will not claim the American League wild card spot in the playoffs. That honor will got to our hometown Twins.

I would like to pick the Twins to win the AL Central, but I’m not sure the pitching staff is deep enough to hold off Detroit.

The Tigers are the flavor of the year after their World Series run a year ago, and I think they will again make the playoffs, this time as the central champions.

The Tigers didn’t lose much, and gained Gary Sheffield, one of the more feared hitters in the game — even if he is 38 years old and only played in 39 games last season with the Yankees. That he played with New York and has a bunch of postseason experience makes him all the more valuable to the Tigers.

The AL West will be won by the Angels, of wherever. The Angels just seem to be consistent every year. They have Vladimir Guerrero as the big slugger and Francisco Rodriguez is lightning at the end of the bullpen, but everybody else is just good. But good enough to hold off the Texas Rangers to win the west.

As for the National League, good luck picking a favorite.

The Cardinals won the World Series, but they just don’t stick out above the other teams in the league or even the Central Division.

In the central, the Cubs are the popular choice, with the addition of Alfonso Soriano, but the Cubs were bad because of their pitching, and they didn’t get that much better over the winter by adding Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis and Wade Miller. Forget the Pirates and Reds, so, by default, I guess the Astros will win the central.

In the east, I foresee the Mets living up to their expectations and slugging their way to a division title, and west will go to the Padres. The additions of Greg Maddux and David Wells will be huge for San Diego’s young pitching staff.

The Padres will nip the Dodgers for the west title, but the Dodgers will get in the playoffs as the wild card team, and they will get revenge by winning the National League pennant for the first time since 1988.

In the World Series, the Dodgers will meet the Tigers in a seven game series that will be as memorable as each team’s tradition.

And the winner: Sorry Nomar, not this year. The Tigers will finish what they started last season, and Detroit will get a fifth World Series trophy to add to its case. It will look nice next to the 10 Stanley Cups.

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