The McRib? Brittany? My Hairline? Nope. None of the above, not only am I back on the Eight Dollar Beer blog, but the start of the 2012 MLB season is just a few days away! What a great time to get back to sports blogging. Baseball is back, the NBA playoffs are around the corner, world football (yes soccer) is getting into the the last weeks of their seasons and tournaments, the Masters are next week, my beloved Dodgers were just purchased by a group led by LA Legend, Magic Johnson. Things are good for sports, but hey when aren’t they right? So let’s make like a Black Eyed Pea and GET IT STARTED IN HERE!!! (don’t judge me)
Today I will be focusing on the upcoming MLB season and will be giving my two cents along with my predictions for the season and post-season. There were many moves made over the off season which can really shake up the 2012 MLB season and once again, fans of all 30 major league teams have their hopes set high as dreams of holding the World Series trophy in October play out in our dreams. The big bats of Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes all have new homes. The arms of Mark Buehrle, CJ Wilson, and Japanese wonderkid Yu Darvish also will be pitching from new homes in 2012, in Darvish’s case in a brand new country. Not only have rosters changed, but for the for the first time each league will have four playoff spots available. MLB expanded the playoff field by one team, adding a second wilcard spot per league. This decision came after the wild last week of regular season play that we all enjoyed last season. Baseball traditionalist might not like the idea, but since it will be only a 1 game playoff between the Wild Card teams I believe this is a great thing for baseball. Whenever you can give fans more hope of winning a championship, it is a win-win situation for all parties involved.
Now, on to the predictions! Last year I predicted the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees would be in the World Series and we all know how that turned out. The St. Louis Cardinals went on to claim the title behind the efforts of their heroes, David Freese and Albert Pujols.
Today I reveal my list of predictions, and in the next few days I will post more in depth previews for each division.
Since just about every baseball writer and blogger love to start in the East, I will go against the grain and start at home…the West.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
3. San Francisco Giants
4. San Diego Padres
5. Colorado Rockies
1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2. Texas Rangers
3. Oakland Athletics
4. Seattle Mariners
1. Cincinnati Reds
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Pittsburgh Pirates
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Chicago Cubs
6. Houston Astros
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Minnesota Twins
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Miami Marlins
3. Washington Nationals
4. Atlanta Braves
5. New York Mets
1. Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees
3. Tampa Bay Rays
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Baltimore Orioles
5. Kansas City Royals
NL WILDCARDS: Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins
AL WILDCARDS: New York Yankees, Texas Rangers
NL DIVISION SERIES: Philadelphia Phillies over Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds over Arizona Diamondbacks
AL DIVISION SERIES: Detroit Tigers overs Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox over Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
NLCS: Philadelphia Phillies over Cincinnati Reds
ALCS: Detroit Tigers over Boston Red Sox
WORLD SERIES CHAMPION: Detroit Tigers
I remember when playing youth sports I was never quite the best player on the team, but there seemed to always be that one player on my teams who just made the game look easier. The one player who the team looked to when the pressure was on. The one player who just seemed to have that extra gear that no one else had no matter how hard we tried. With one look, that player could give everyone else a sense of calm to let everyone else know that it will be OK. For the New Orleans Saints, Drew Brees has been that player since the day he put on the number 9 jersey for the Saints in 2006. Today the Saints faced the Detroit Lions in New Orleans during the opening round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs. Starting today it’s win or go home, and after a performance for the ages by Drew Brees, the Saints are not making any off season plans quite yet. New Orleans came back from a 14-10 halftime deficit to beat Detroit 28-45.
During the regular season Brees had a record breaking year as he passed Miami Dolphin legend Dan Marino for the number one spot on the total yards in a season list. Also, this season Drew and I become very close friends. We spent every weekend together and I would even check on him during the week. OK, I’ll admit this is not completely true as I’ve never met Drew Brees. However he was my star player on my fantasy football team so I did follow his every move. The 2011 hip-hop hit “I’m on One” might as well have been written for Drew. I’m not taking anything away from State Farm Insurance star and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but Drew was on fire. Over the years I’ve seen regular season stars completely choke in the playoffs, but not Drew Brees, not today. Today Brees had the seconnd total most passing yards in a playoff game with 466 yards, sitting just behind Cleveland Brown, Bernie Kosar. In 1986 Kosar threw for 489 yards against the NY Jets. Yes kids, the Browns used to be good!!! For Brees to do this in a playoff game is just unreal.
Next week, Brees looks to be first on another list. The first to quarterback a New Orleans team to a road playoff win. Hard to believe after all the Saints recent success, but they have never won a playoff game outside of the Superdome. As recent as last year the Saints lost to underdog sensations, the Seattle Seahawks. But this year is definitely not last year, and Mr. Brees is playing like a mad scientist on the verge of a something big. When the Saints go marching into San Francisco next week I’m sure the bay area winds will be causing havoc, but the forecast also calls for a very strong New Orleans Brees to roll through.
Something happened today in the city of Newcastle Upon Tyne, England that has not happened in over 10 years. Today, my favorite English Premier team, Newcastle United played host to top club Manchester United….and won 3-0! Earlier this season when Newcastle visited Manchester United at their home grounds, Old Trafford, the Magpies hung on to a 1-1 draw against the Red Devils. However today, Newcastle were simply the better, hungrier team from start to finish If you are new or not at all familiar to the world of English football (yes, soccer), Newcastle United have not won a league title since 1927 and only have 4 total titles in their history. Manchester United are the reigning champions, have 19 total titles to their name, and are consistently a top European club. I do not have any older siblings, but I imagine this feel like finally beating your older brother at a game after many years of abuse. Newcastle are actually off to a decent start to the 2011-2012 season and are playing like a football team should, together. This years Newcastle team reminds me of the famous quote of former Team USA Hockey coach Herb Brooks, “I’m not looking for the best players, I’m looking for the right ones.” It is games like today’s that I am supporter of Newcaslte United, I’ll tell you why in detail in a later post. But one reason is that Newcastle fans are always some of the loudest and faithful fans no matter how the team is playing. Think of the Boston Red Sox Fans before they won the World Series in 2004, passionate but always run into some tough luck.
The city and fans of Newcastle needed this win in the worst way, not only to stay in the top half of the standings but to hold their heads up a bit higher. I go to English pubs locally to watch EPL games and am always surrounded by people in jerseys of other top teams like Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, and of course Manchester United. Next time I show up in my black and white Newcastle gear I can get the last laugh, at least for a day.
OK, I’m not going to say I called it, but I called it! During Andrew Bynum’s four game suspension at the beginning of this shortened NBA season I was telling anyone that would listen to me that Bynum will be the key to a successful 2011-2012 Lakers season. One thing Laker fans have come to know about Captain Parking Tickets is that a healthy Andrew Bynum is a good Andrew Bynum. However this season we have seen not only a good Bynum, but a dominant one. He seems to finally mature, at least on the court, to become the more aggressive center that everyone has been waiting for. Tonight at Staples Center, Bynum scored 21 points and pulled down 22 rebounds against the Houston Rockets. Kobe Bryant scored 37 points on a bad wrist. If the Black Mamba can keep playing scoring those numbers and Bynum can remain healthy, I can easily see the Laker become a top team in the Western Conference. On a side note, head coach Mike Brown still looks like a FURKEL, a fat Urkel.
To all those who find themselves screaming at your favorite team from the cheap seats, watching sports highlights over and over as you fall asleep, spend more time on fantasy sports lineups than your taxes, wake up insanely early to watch a soccer game being played thousands of miles away, or other random acts of sports passion….welcome. Yes I somewhat ripped off Walt Disney’s Disneyland opening day speech, but I’m an annual pass holder so sue me. This is not only my own personal soapbox to vent my sports frustrations, but also somewhere for you to learn a bit about the games that drive grown men to do childish things. I was born in Los Angeles, and currently reside in Orange County, CA with a couple of years in the frozen land of Minnesota squeezed in between. Since I’m a fan of just about every sport in the world, it would not be fair not limit this blog to one sport. Come one, come all. I will cover it all, from A to Z, or should I say from Hank Aaron to Zinedine Zidane. From NFL to EPL and any other 3-letter league you can think of. It’s a new year, 2012, time for my two cents to finally go in.