2009 record: 64-98
Local weather: Crime-filled, critically acclaimed
Namesake: John McGraw’s turn of the century squad that cheated and fist-fought its way to dominance. Ah, the good ol’ days…
What was McNulty thinking with the whole “homeless biter” thing?: I don’t know. It’s always bugged me.
Perpetually overused team-related headline: Flippin’ the Bird!
Best name on 40-man roster: Cla Meredith, striking a blow for unclear long vowels everywhere
The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Garrett Atkins. One bad season and the Rockies kicked him to the curb. A cruel business, baseball is.
Spring standout: Felix Pie. And when Felix Pie is your spring standout, a long season awaits.
Probable Opening Day starter: Kevin Millwood, also not a good sign.
Biggest question for 2010: Who will take over Camden Yards to a more annoying extent, Yankee fans or Red Sox fans?
Advantage to start the season: I dunno, nobody’s died yet? That’s a plus.
Semi-serious assessment: There’s some young talent on this team, like Nick Markakis and Adam Jones and Matt Wieters, but virtually no pitching. Not to mention they play in possibly the toughest division in baseball. Yet another tough year in Charm City.
BOSTON RED SOX
2009 record: 95-67, wild card berth, lost division series to Angels
Local weather: Angry, entitled
Namesake: Crimson footwear, as rendered by the illiterate.
Would the Sox really consider letting Jonathan Papelbon go?: It’s certainly possible. But if they do, expect to see Peter Gammons write several columns about how horrible he is soon thereafter.
Perpetually overused team-related headline: GO SAWX!
Best name on 40-man roster: Ex-Twin/Teen Wolf’s girlfriend Boof Bonser
The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Mike Cameron. He’s supposed to be such a great guy, and yet he changes teams as often as his underwear.
Spring standout: Dustin Pedroia, but only in the performance sense. It’s difficult for Pedroia to physically stand out anywhere without a stepladder.
Probable Opening Day starter: Josh Beckett, in what will surely be a low-key affair against the Yankees on Sunday night.
Biggest question for 2010: Which team will Theo Epstein fleece at the deadline this year?
Advantage to start the season: Scheduling a home series against the Yankees will get the whole media circus out of the way. I mean, I’m sure ESPN won’t obsess about Yankees/Red Sox all year, right?
Semi-serious assessment: Although I think Boston will miss Jason Bay’s power more than they let on (or more than their weirdly back-stabby press leaks would indicate), I like that they’ve shored up their defense with the additions of Cameron and Marco Scutaro. Good defense makes good pitching even better, and while their lineup isn’t as explosive as the Yanks’, it is more than solid. At the very least, I see another wild card berth in their future.
2009 record: 103-59, World Series champions (barf)
Local weather: Chest-thump-y
Namesake: Epithet for Northeners dating back to at least the early 1700s, a colloquialism of possibly of Dutch origin, and preferably followed by SUCK!
Will there be more parking at the new stadium now that the old one is torn down?: No, the old stadium site will be sealed off in a glass dome to forever preserve its mystique and aura.
Perpetually overused team-related headline: Yank Me
Best name on 40-man roster: Romulo Sanchez. He’s got some promise, but I hear his brother Remus is even better.
The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Chan Ho Park. One good season in Philly and he lands on the Yankees. They probably don’t even want him to pitch. Probably ask him to sweep up or something.
Spring standout: Everyone. The whole team is wonderful. Makes me sick.
Probable Opening Day starter: CC Sabathia, taking out time between buffets to throw a few pitches.
Biggest question for 2010: Who will trade their best player for pennies on the dollar to Brian Cashman this year?
Advantage to start the season: Everything.
Semi-serious assessment: A lot of their best players aren’t getting any older (Jeter, Posada, Mariano), and I think their outfield/DH situation actually took a slight step backwards this year (at least offensively). But their starting rotation apart from Andy Pettite is relatively young, and extremely good 1 through 5. Barring a Mets-ian rash of injuries, there’s no way they don’t go deep into the playoffs again. Fuckety fuckety fuck fuck.
2009 record: 84-78
Local weather: Elderly
Namesake: Famous original pizza parlor
Is Tropicana Field the worst stadium in baseball?: Only if you don’t like watching games played inside a coffee can.
Perpetually overused team-related
headline: Rays of Light
Best name on 40-man roster: Reid Brignac, who I think studied semiotics under Lacan.
The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Carl Crawford. It’s amazing he wasn’t traded away at some point over the last 3-4 years.
Spring standout: Hard to say, because right now the page for Rays spring training stats links to a list of Yankees players. Not cool, MLB.com.
Probable Opening Day starter: James Shields, also known as Big Game James, a nickname give to Shields by himself.
Biggest question for 2010: The Rays can’t sneak up anyone anymore, but might they possibly enter quietly?
Advantage to start the season: One slightly disappointing season has completely dissipated the expectations and hope of 2008.
Semi-serious assessment: The main culprit in Tampa Bay’s return to earth in 2009 was its bullpen, and I think the acquisition of Rafael Soriano improves that weakness a lot. I see them competing hard with Boston for the wild card (because as you all know, Bud Selig decreed that the AL wild card spot can only come from the AL East).
2009 record: 75-87
Local weather: Metric
Namesake: A sad Leno
If you go to a game at the Rogers Centre, can you totally see people doing it in the ballpark hotel?: Fuck yeah!
Perpetually overused team-related headline: Blue Jay Way
Best name on 40-man roster: Mark Rzepczynski, whose family hails from an Eastern European nation where the locals are too poor to afford vowels.
The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Josh Roenicke. I thought he was in trouble for betting on hockey?
Spring standout: I can’t tell you about the Blue Jays either, because just like the Rays, the Blue Jays’ spring training stats page is filled with Yankees.
Probable Opening Day starter: Shawn Marcum, which sounds like a sherrif’s name. Do they have sherrifs in Canada?
Biggest question for 2010: Will the exchange rate continue to affect Toronto’s ability to lure free agents, or is lack of interest more due to them sucking?
Advantage to start the season: Cross-promotional opportunities abound now that five members of the Blue Jays have joined Broken Social Scene.
Semi-serious assessment: The Blue Jays were not going to be very good to begin with, and now they’ve lost their only real box office draw by trading Roy Halladay to the Phillies. I suggest bringing back the powder blue unis on a permanent basis. It will bring to mind the juggernaut teams of the early 90s, even if there’s no chance in hell of playing like them.