2009 record: 86-76
Local weather: Hotter than the devil’s drawers, suh! /sips mint julep
Namesake: Valiant Native American warriors like Chief Noc-a-homa
What will Bobby Cox do after he retires?: I don’t know, but for his wife’s sake, I hope he doesn’t plan on spending a lot of time around the house.
Perpetually overused team-related headline: Anything involving ‘chop’. The only thing that should be chopped on the Braves is their dumb, racist chant.
Best name on 40-man roster: Jonny Venters, who had a few regional rockabilly hits back in the 50s.
The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Scott Proctor, who was allowed to keep the tiny shreds of his throwing arm that Joe Torre didn’t destroy
Spring standout: Jason Heyward, who is not only tearing the cover off the ball, but can make sportswriters cream their jeans with every swing of his bat.
Probable Opening Day starter: Derek Lowe, taking some time off between injuries to throw a baseball.
Biggest question for 2010: Will Chipper Jones badmouth his own teammates again, or save his dumb outburst for someone on another team?
Advantage to start the season: Low pressure–if Braves fans won’t come out for the playoffs, they surely won’t care if the team starts out slow.
Semi-serious assessment: Potentially great starting rotation, and a formerly suspect lineup has been shored up by the emergence of Heyward (THE CHOSEN ONE!). The bullpen took a step back–Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano were replaced with Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner, neither of whom have any chance of staying healthy all season (mark it down). Regardless, the Braves will definitely compete this year. Fuck.
2009 record: 87-75
Local weather: Rainy, brutally hot, repeat
Namesake: A noble sea creature that triumphs and immediately dismantles itself in 7-year cycles
MLB scheduled a series in Puerto Rico for the Marlins this summer. Does that mean they’ll be moved, like the Expos were?: One can only hope.
Perpetually overused team-related headline: Fish Fry. I would personally like to see more stories on the Marlins reference tartar sauce.
Best name on 40-man roster: Dutch native Rick VandenHurk, who, despite his name, has never entered a Strongman Competition.
The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Derrick Turnbow, once a beloved shaggy-haired closer, now reduced to fighting for a roster spot. Sad, really.
Spring standout: Gaby Sanchez, who’s done so well this spring he no longer has to tell people his first name is not pronounced GAY-bee.
Probable Opening Day starter: Josh Johnson, who the Mets have never beaten, and likely never will.
Biggest question for 2010: Will Dan Uggla actually catch a ball this year?
Advantage to start the season: Schizophrenic weather assures at least 12 rainouts in April.
Semi-serious assessment: Like the Braves, the Marlins have a starting rotation that could be fantastic. Unlike the Braves, their lineup is already well established. Also unlike the Braves, this team can not field to save its life. Nonetheless, I expect the Marlins to be a tough opponent this year and compete for the Wild Card. Double fuck.
2009 record: 70-92
Local weather: Resentful, traumatized
Namesake: Denizens of a metropolitan area; also, an old National League team from the 1890s that was gutted under shady circumstances. I had to explain this to some loudmouth in a bar once who screamed WHAT THE HELL IS A MET?! And no, I did not punch him, though I should have.
Will they ever get rid of the chop shops behind CitiField?: Don’t worry, Bloomberg will destroy every vestige of working class New York by 2013.
Perpetually overused team-related headline: Meet the Mess. Self explanatory
Best name on 40-man roster: Angel Pagan. This never struck me as an odd name until a non-baseball-fan friend of mine saw it and noted the irony of “Angel” and “Pagan” being juxtaposed. There has to be a goth band called Pagan Angel out there somewhere.
The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Kelvim Escobar, although I’m not sure the ex-Angel counts, as he has yet to throw a pitch in anger this spring.
Spring standout: Ike Davis, first base prospect who batted .480 and hit 3 homers, and was of course sent to the minors so gritty, gutty Dan Murphy could log more at-bats.
Probable Opening Day starter: Johan Santana, who is coming off of elbow surgery and has not looked great this spring. Yippee!
Biggest question for 2010: Take your pick.
Advantage to start the season: A bad start will cause most fans to gouge out their eyes or commit ritual suicide, thus reducing the pressure for the remainder of the season.
Semi-serious assessment: I have no idea what this team is, and neither do the manager or the front office. I think the lineup will be okay, now that Jose Reyes will be ready on (or close to) Opening Day, and it will improve when Carlos Beltran returns. While some people are worried about the bullpen, I think Kiko Calero was a good pickup, and if nothing else they have depth in relievers. But none of their starting pitchers (Santana included) is anything close to a sure thing this year, and none of them have looked very good in spring action. Worse yet, I have no confidence in the GM to do make any quality moves, or in the manager to get out of his own way. Could they compete this year? It’s possible. Will they? All I can say for sure is the Mets won’t be as bad as they were last year. They couldn’t possibly be. Right?
2009 record: 93-60, NL champions, lost World Series to Yankees
Local weather: Violent
Namesake: A resident of Philadelphia, a young female horse, or a brand of cigar particularly good for repurposing as a marijuana delivery vehicle.
Are Philly fans still angry after all their recent success?: If you have to ask this question, you have never been to Philadelphia.
Perpetually overused team-related headline: “Mets Suck!”
The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Brian Schneider. After all his heroic efforts as a Met, I can’t believe he’s a Phillie now!
Spring standout: Newly re-acquired Placido Polanco, batting .408, despite playing out of position. Further evidence that this team leads a charmed life.
Probable Opening Day starter: Roy Halladay, who, after dominating hitters in the AL East, will probably go three months without giving up a hit to NL batters.
Biggest question for 2010: Will Jimmy Rollins continue to be inexplicably revered by sportswriters when he’s not even the best shortstop in his division?
Advantage to start the season: Most of the local fans’ rage is currently focused on Donovan McNabb.
Semi-serious assessment: Their only weak link is maybe the bullpen, as both Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero are recovering from off-season surgery. And I don’t know how Polanco will fare manning third base, but that’s nitpicking. Halladay is Halladay, and if Cole Hamels returns to form, that’s one of the best 1-2’s in baseball. I see no way they don’t win the division yet again. Triple fuck.
2009 record: 59-103
Local weather: Hostile to bipartisanship
Namesake: The resident of a country. Dumb, but no dumber than “Senators” as a team name.
How will Obama be received when throwing out the first pitch?: I would bet on a mixed reaction from the crowd, and a hysterical reaction from Glenn Beck.
Perpetually overused team-related headline: The Adventures of Nat-ty Gan. (No one has actually used this, but I will pay good money to see it happen.)
Best name on 40-man roster: Atahualpa Severino, who I think might actually be a volcano.
The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Pudge Rodriguez, who at this post-PED point should just be called Suprisingly Svelte Rodriguez.
Spring standout: Stephen Strasburg, number one pick who wowed scouts, then was optioned to the minors, presumably to keep him from reaching arbitration too soon. But hey, at least Nats fans will get to see Ross Detwiler.
Probable Opening Day starter: I dunno, John Lannan? Sure, let’s go with that.
Biggest question for 2010: How soon will Strasburg be called up, and how close will the Nats be to elimination when he is?
Advantage to start the season: Local indifference. Most DC “residents” are transplants and are just as likely to be Red Sox fans.
Semi-serious assessment: The Nationals made a few pitching moves this offseason, like signing Jason Marquis and Chien-Ming Wang. But their staff in general is still pretty bad. So when I read Mets fan sites where panicky fans scream WE SCUK!!1! WE’RE GONNA FINISH IN LAST!!PLACE!!!1!, I assure you that no, no they will not, because the Nationals still exist. They’ll be better than last year (slightly), but I’d be shocked if they finished close to .500.