March Madness, For Baseball Fans
No other single day in sports marks the end of one season and the beginning of another as does the first Monday in April. Just as the excitement of the NCAA Tournament comes to its end, baseball springs into action. It’s arguably the best single day on the sports calendar. I know you all enjoyed seeing our expert picks on Wednesday, but what better way to provide the BFT audience with yours truly’s 2006 baseball picks – NCAA Tournament style.
To remove any subjectivity to the seedings, they have simply been based on last year’s standings. Some may argue this is not fair as, for example, after the fish fry in Florida, the Marlins are clearly not the 6th best team in the National League any more. But the same goes for the NCAA Tournament – sometimes teams get seeded too high (Tennessee), too low (George Washington) or invited when they don’t deserve to be there (George Mason). Okay maybe not that last one, but you get the point.
Remember folks, this is a one-and-done situation – not a four out of seven series. So some crazy things might happen along the way.
National League Seeds
(1) Cardinals – Unlike the NCAA Tournament, this #1 seed will live up to its hype
(2) Braves – Will once again prove that they’re a great regular season team, getting upset by the Cubbies in the second round
(3) Astros – Houston has heated up in October the last two years, but they will finally deflate, losing a first round match-up with under-rated Los Angeles
(4) Phillies – Doesn’t it always seem like there’s one thing missing with them? Look for that to continue
(5) Mets – You have to like what they’ve done, but still feel like their pitching won’t hold up against the Cards in the NL Semis
(6) Marlins – Ranked too high after the off season send-offs, they’ll lose to equally unimpressive Arizona
(7) Padres – Great pitching, but 82 wins won’t do it this year
(8) Brewers – I agree with my colleague – Brew Crew is ready to compete. Unfortunately, they meet St. Louis in round two.
(9) Nationals – Soriano said he’d only play if the Nats could be a 6 seed
(10) Cubs – I see them finding some success with that pitching staff, but the Dodgers are going to be good!
(11) Diamondbacks – Marlins / D’backs first round game will not set any attendance records
(12) Giants – If Bonds doesn’t get suspended, Giants will compete, but Mets will take them out
(13) Reds – The curse of Marge Schott lives on in Cincinnati
(14) Dodgers – A 14-seed has never made it as far as LA will this year. Decimated by injury last season, look for LA to make a run.
(15) Pirates – Should be somewhat competitive this year, but NL Central is stacked and they’re the Pirates
(16) Rockies – Seriously, whose idea was it to put a baseball team here
American League Seeds
(1) White Sox – I know they added Thome and Vazquez, but I think the Indians late-season momentum will carry over
(2) Angels – They fell apart after the controversial loss in Game 2 vs. Chicago. They’ll be up there, but that was unimpressive
(3) Yankees – Same story – Enough great hitting to win a lot of games, but will get shelled when it counts
(4) Red Sox – ’03-’05 was a wild ride for the Sox. My gut tells me they need a breather and will have an off year
(5) Indians – This is the team! Indians have pitching, power, speed and heart. Sound like a certain Indians team with Hayes, Taylor and Cerrano – doesn’t it (Does anyone ever wonder how that team did in the playoffs?)
(6) Athletics – Billy Beane will once again prove that his teams know how to get to the playoffs
(7) Twins – Falling further behind the White Sox and Indians
(8) Blue Jays – This team will compete in the AL East, but I like the Rangers to beat them.
(9) Rangers - They’ve got an entire new pitching staff which will make things exciting, but they won’t take out Chicago
(10) Orioles – Let me guess – 10 over after May and then fall apart – sound familiar?
(11) Tigers – They always seem to be a year away, but that pitching staff is still young and now has experience
(12) Mariners – It’s almost like they’re still recovering from winning 116 games and losing to the Yanks in ‘01
(13) Devil Rays – If only they could play the Yankees for 162 games
(14) Royals – If only they could play Triple AAA Omaha for 162 games
Rob Hyman's column appears alternate Fridays