For the last couple of years, we've asked some of our favorite writers and contributors and known baseball fans to "predict the season," a kind of Hobart version to an expert's panel of predictions on, say, ESPN or Sports Illustrated. You can see last year's here, and 2011's here. This year we are going to space these out some, a different expert or two every week, throughout April. Today, wrapping up our month of baseball... Jess Walter!
AL East: Baltimore Orioles. Three reasons the O’s will finally break through: 1. Catcher Matt Wieters; 2. the Orioles were 29-9 in one-run games last year; and 3. The last time a pope resigned was in 1415, which is also the last time Baltimore won the AL East. Coincidence? Maybe. Ludicrous non-fact? Yes. But you can’t deny how far the O’s have come. Just look at Balm'r’s lineup from six years ago: C Bunk Moreland; 1B Frank Sobatka; 2B Avon Barksdale; 3B Russell “Stringer” Bell; SS Marlow Stanfield; LF Chris Partlow; CF Bubs; RF Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski; Designated Hitter: Omar Little.
AL Central: Detroit Tigers. Detroit’s back! How do I know? I rented a Chevy Malibu recently and I got pulled over by this attractive state trooper and she comes sidling up to the window and she’s all up in my shit, like, Man, you were flying, and I was like, Ladyfuzz, you pull me over, you better be prepared for about twelve minutes of heavy frisking, and she was like, How do I know you’re not carrying a concealed weapon and I’m all, Oh, I’m packing heat for you, Smokey, and she’s all like, I get off in an hour, and I’m like, Slide into this Malibu and you’ll get off a lot sooner than that … and while none of that really happened, I did get surprisingly decent mileage, and I like the Tigers’ balance of hitting and pitching.
AL West: Los Angeles Angels. Two words: Mike Trout. Remember in middle school the coolest guy always had two one-syllable names? Steve Kirk. Brad Bolt. Mike Trout. Mike Trout is the guy who asks the girl you think is cute to the Sweethearts Dance and tongue-kisses her right in front of you. And you don’t even mind because the fact that Mike Trout is making out with your girl just confirms your good taste. Mike Trout rides the coolest bike and he does this kick-out thing where he stops and gravel sprays in this perfect arc and lands spelling out his name: Mike Trout. Mike Trout’s hair falls perfectly away from its middle-part like a tiny Moses is standing in his scalp using his god-staff to divide half the blonds to one side and half to the other. Your mom always wants to know why you don’t hang out with Mike Trout more. Mike Trout grew his first beard during quiet time in kindergarten. Mike Trout went through puberty in utero. There’s a chance Mike Trout is his own father and that he will come again to judge the living and the dead and that his slugging percentage will have no end.
AL Wild Card: Texas v. Tampa Bay.
ALDS: Angels d. Rays, Orioles d. Tigers
ALCS: In game 7, Mike Trout collides with Matt Wieters at the plate. The universe collapses in on itself. Orioles win 4-3.
NL East: Washington Nationals. During the offseason, the Nationals kept Steven Strasburg in a state of frozen cryogenic suspension to keep him from aging and it works: he dominates the 3 games they allow him to pitch and the Nationals win the division by … exactly 3 games. Fucking geniuses.
NL Central: Cincinnati Reds. I always pick the Cincinnati Reds. I love the Cincinnati Reds. Joey Votto will be healthy and the bullpen is lights out and Aroldis Chapman drives his Jag 100 to the store to buy more rubbers and he only dates crazy strippers and they traded the worst leadoff hitter in baseball history, Drew Stubbs (.213, 14 HR) so what more could you want? True story: my friend Danny Westneat and I went to Cincinnati last year for the weekend series in which the Reds clinched the NL Central. There was a German festival of some kind going on the same weekend and our hotel was filled with fat fucking Germans and they were piping some kind of crazy volksmusik through the PA all day and night, and once we staggered back into the elevator to find a bellhop shaking his head, “I’m-a-fuckin’ kill someone they don’t shut that shit off,” but in spite of all the Germans, we had an amazing time and the night the Reds clinched we went from bar to bar, drinking and toasting and we very nearly bought an old newspaper building to open a nightclub in, and we ended up on this hill overlooking downtown where some dude was holding forth on a series of risers surrounded by scantily clad women holding bottles of champagne and we danced like we were in an ‘80s teen romp and then we went back downtown and drunkenly thought it would be a good idea to flip over a police car and set it on fire, the way you’re supposed to when you’re celebrating a sports triumph and right then we saw a police officer go by on a Segway and we made meaningful eye contact, thinking it would be better to flip over a Police Segway and set it on fire, but we were too old and Segways are much heavier than they look and the cop would’ve probably shot us or Tasered us and it’s one of those things that seems like a good idea until you’re explaining it to a judge or to your wife, so we staggered back to our hotel room and went to sleep with the sound of a Klezmer band playing in the hallway. Reds by 2.
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers. I like the Dodgers’ young nucleus. They have a solid cell membrane and great team cytoplasm. They may have to look to a slightly-depleted farm system to beef up their ribosomes but they could just be a golgi body away from a World Series.
NL Wild Card: San Francisco Giants v. St. Louis Cardinals
NLDS: Reds d. Giants, Nationals d. Dodgers
NLCS: Reds d. Nationals
World Series: After freebasing a mixture of prescription-grade coke and Red Bull with his “trainer” Aroldis Chapman pitches all 63 innings and the Reds win the series 4-3.