I’ve either spoken directly on this or alluded to it before. As much as football means to me, baseball is still my favorite sport of all time. I don’t know if it’s the whole America’s Pastime argument or the fact that I just love the strategy involved with a baseball game. Either way, I love baseball. I realize that the calendar tells us a new year begins on January 1st, but to me the real new year begins when the first pitch is thrown on a new baseball season.
Tomorrow night baseball season kicks off when the Atlanta Braves travel to face the defending World Series champion (ugh, I think i just threw up a little typing that) Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves will open up on national TV on ESPN 2 at 8PM. I’m so pumped I can’t wait. Over at SI, not one writer has picked Atlanta to make the playoffs this year. It seems to be a general consensus that the Braves are going to finish 3rd or 4th in the NL East this year. As Michael over at Braves and Birds says:
4. The Garret Anderson-Jordan Schafer-Jeff Francoeur outfield isn’t strking fear into the hearts of people who watch baseball for a living.
I can’t say that I disagree with that assessment, but I have a rebuttal on that point. What other team in the NL East has a rotation that strikes fear in the hearts of the rest of the East? I realize the Braves rotation may be unproven with the new addition of Kenshin Kawakami from Japan and the recovering Tom Glavine, but what other team in the NL East has a top 3 that at all measures up to Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, or Jair Juerrjens? Both the Phillies and the Mets have one pitcher that you know is better than anyone else on your staff in Cole Hamels and Johan Santana, respectively? But does anyone beyond that really scare you about those two teams? If the Braves are in a 3 game series against the Mets or the Phillies this year you have to believe the Braves will be trotting out better starting pitching in at least two of those games.
I’ve stopped relying on “expert” preseason prognostications for the truth awhile back. If there were always right then Georgia last year and USC the year before were the clear cuts to be national champions, but that obviously didn’t happen. I just think back to last year and that should tell you that a baseball season is completely unpredictable. Who in their right mind picked the Rays and Phillies to play in the World Series?
Either way I’m real excited about baseball season and the real new year getting started tomorrow night. I’ll be saddling up with some friends, my new Braves ballcap, and some Sweetwater 420 to enjoy the festivities. I’ve also already got my tickets for the Braves home opener next Friday and can’t wait for that glorious day either. Here’s to a new season and good luck to your favorite team, except when they play my Braves, of course, or if your favorite team is the Mets.