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MLB Breakdown: Yes, I Really Do Love the Royals

By Phil Janowicz

SPORTS EDITOR

It’s time to wake up and emerge from the winter coffin because spring is here. And with spring comes baseball, the best reason for living. Last year, the Marlins shocked the baseball world when they shallacked the Yankees in six games to capture baseball’s coveted World Series title. To date, the Marlins have never lost a postseason series in their entire existence. Sure, I’ve been alive longer than the Marlins, but my managing skills have not procured me a title ring. Maybe my prognostication skills can let me piggy-back on the next World Series champion: the Boston Red Sox.

AL East

From this point forward, we will no longer rely on next year to bring us our championship. With the acquisitions of Keith “Queer As” Foulke, “Hokey” Pokey Reese, and Curt “Von Trapp” Schilling (not to mention the great commercials along with him), the Sox are poised to take the AL East crown away from the perpetually hated Bronx Bastards. Sure, Pedro’s fastball has lost a bit of its zip, but that just means that he’ll mix in some more breaking stuff. With the killer pitching staff the Sox have, not to mention their top-rated offense, the Sox have all the tools on paper to win anything and everything in their way.

The intangibles are the only iffy factor. With new manager Terry “Julio” Francona and the temporary alienation of Nomar and Manny over the offseason, the team chemistry is the only thing in doubt. Hopefully, the team can pull together once again and bring more haircuts to the Boston area.

The Yankees added quite a bit, but they’re just too old. They have several good players, but they have too much steric hindrance at each position. Too much talent is a detriment to clubhouse dynamics, and as the Marlins showed last year, chemistry is everything.

The Orioles added quite a bit as well, but they’re years away. The Blue Jays... what can I say? They have talent, but are in the toughest division in baseball, and they still have a year to wait before Kevin Cash “Cow” produces for them as the “catcher of the future.” In the meantime, Toronto, Go Leafs Go. And the Devil Rays will surprise many people this year. They have a great outfield and young pitchers making noise. Look for them not to finish dead last for the first time in their existence.

AL Central

Continuing the surge they provided last season, the Royals will take the AL Central by a large margin. Maybe their pitching is a little suspect, but they’ll pull through on the shoulders of their incredible offense and amazing team chemistry. Manager Tony “Manager of the Year” Pena is so crucial to the Royals success and brings back the positive attitude he provided last season. Now, a healthy Mike Sweeney “Todd” and bolstered outfield will propel the Royals back to their mid 1980s status.

With new turf and a new closer, the Twins look to three-peat as champions. If the injury of Joe Mauer “Power” is any indication, their season will end in disappointment. I’m sorry, Minnesota, pack your bags. You’re going home.

Will the White Sox ever figure out how to win? They’ve tried everything from buying players to attacking Royals, but all they have to show for it is Billy “Ed” Koch.

At least the Tigers have revamped their squad with a Pudge in the right direction. They’ll still finish last, but they’ll only lose 100 games.

The Indians will be the most improved team in the AL this year with their talent blossoming. They rid their clubhouse of excess baggage, and have an excellent team. Hitting coach Eddie “Beverly Hills Cop” Murray has these hitters more patient at the plate and are putting up some impressive hitting statistics. Their starting pitching will show a vast improvement over last year, but their bullpen still has the tendency to blow leads late in games. Unless the Tribe corrects this problem, their hopes will be washed away down the Cuyahoga.

AL West

The Angels will win the west. Hands down. With Anaheim as the only team in the west improving in any respect in the offseason, they will fly above the competition. Vladimir “The Impaler” Guerrero is the new Angel in the outfield, and Kelvim Escobar “of Soap” and Bartolo “Marshmallow” Colon will headline their new rotation. Seattle is still too old; Oakland is too frugal; Texas is just plain bad.

NL East

The Marlins are just too good. Even with the loss of Pudge, Ramon “Fidel” Castro has stepped up to take his place and perform potentially better than his predecessor. Miguel “Player of the New” Cabrera will just be even better than last year, and there seems to be nothing standing in the way of the Marlins in the NL this season.

The Phillies will be an even bigger disappointment than last year when they couldn’t close out the Vet in style in any sport.

I hate the Braves.

The Expos are always on the brink of breaking loose, but they never do, and they won’t again this year.

Am I forgetting something? Nah, nothing important.

NL Central

Is this the Cubs’ year? Perhaps, but they have heavy competition on their Achilles heels. The Cubs need health, and they’ll be golden if they can obtain it, but the Cardinals have the firepower to overtake them. Plagued by injuries last season, the Cardinals will bounce back strongly by surprising many with the NL Central title. Their pitching may be a bit suspect, but Matt “Jimmy” Morris can carry a lot of weight on his shoulders.

The Astros bolstered their pitching staff with Yankee castoffs Roger “Dodger” Clemens and Andy “Find My Dog And” Pettite. They won’t live up to form, and all the Astros’ doubters will prove their collective point.

The Brewers, Pirates, and Reds all suck.

NL West

Look out for the upstart Padres because these boys are the new fathers of the NL West. With so many offseason acquisitions and healthy players, the Padres will take the west easily. The return of Trevor “Dustin” Hoffman, Phil Nevin “Doubt” from the season long DL will return stability to the club as they build on a new foundation. Jake “The Snake” Peavy has seemed to gain more control of his pitches so he can cut down on the number of walks and homers he surrenders. Even MIT will affect change in San Diego with our own Jason E. Szuminski ’01. Jason will have the privilege of carrying around the pink Barbie bag containing sunflower seeds for the players, a tradition that gets passed down to the rookie in the bullpen. Jason, you are the pride of MIT.

The Diamondbacks can’t ride on the back of Randy “Baby” Johnson because the combined weight would kill him. The Diamondbacks won’t compete this year because of their lack of depth and general inexperience, but next year will see the blossoming of Alex “Absolut” Cintron and Robby “Relax in My” Hammock.

I hate the Giants.

The Dodgers just can’t seem to find a way to win day-to-day. On paper, they are a spectacular team, but the jigsaw pieces can’t seem to be connected. Hopefully, for their sake, they’ll figure it out soon or else all their talent will be dried up.

The Rockies will surprise many this season with a vast improvement. The Coors curse will be lifted, and they’ll finish above .500 for the first time in a while. The offense is there, as usual, but now the pitching will help their case as well. Colorado native and All-Star Shawn “Puffy” Chacon is the new closer in the mile-high city, and he’ll earn many a save because he seems to be the only person to have figured out the height issue of breaking pitches. The offense is there, as usual, but now the pitching will help their case as well.

The season will prove to be a good one with the city of Boston burned in a massive fire in October that will last for 85 blissful years.