On Opening Day and Predictions

Although the weather is miserable, it’s Opening Day in Cincinnati, so the day is special. Back in the day before the mad pursuit of TV money, the Reds opened first, and then all others followed. Although those days are gone, Opening Day in Cincinnati includes excitement, a traditional (yet simple, even cheezy parade), and a sold out ballpark. It’s simply a time-honored special event.

Here’s a reminder of the 2007 opener … poor mayor, yet the look by Eric Davis is priceless.

Today’s parade is the 90th, so here’s a sample of the parade from the past along with some background.

On Divisional Predictions
AL West: The Angles are the class of the division, but expect the A’s to challenge.
AL Central: The most competitive division, so drawing the names out of a hat has just as good a chance. Crazy Ozzie will get the Chisox to the top.
AL East: Jays and O’s won’t contend. Although CC wins the Cy Young, Boston wins the division.
NL West: Dodgers survive the Diamondback’s challenge.
NL Central: By far, the Cubs the class of the division.
NL East: Mets face through issues and somehow get it done. The Braves will surprising be in the mix.

On the Reds
Since my Reds have some of the better young talent in baseball, some pundits designate them as the surprise team. Adam Dunn prodigious blasts are gone, so it’s a different type of team.

To me, it’s a team with a lot of ifs: If Votto and Bruce continue to improve; If Harrang returns to form; If Volquez and Cuetto win a combined 30; if the RH bats of Encarnacion and Hernandez hit 55-60 HRs with 150 RBIs; If SS Gonzalez stays heathly and has an average year; If Willy Taveras improves his OBP by 100 points, which means he may have to find a way to steal first; If the team batting average with RISP improves at least 50 points; and so on.

For a team with that many ifs, third place is a reasonable expectation, but I say it will be lower.

On Awards
AL MVP: David Ortiz
AL Cy Young: CC Sabathia
AL Rookie of the Year: David Price
AL Manager of the Year: Bob Geren
AL Comeback Player of the Year: Eric Chavez
AL Batting Crown: Ichiro Suzuki
AL Home Run Title: Josh Hamilton
AL RBI Title: Mark Teixeira
NL MVP: Manny Ramirez
NL Cy Young: Dan Haren
NL Rookie of the Year: Jordan Schafer
NL Manager of the Year: Bobby Cox
NL Comeback Player of the Year: Chris Carpenter
NL Batting Crown: Albert Pujols
NL Home Run Title: Ryan Howard
NL RBI Title: Ryan Howard

On the NCAA Basketball Championship
Two semifinals wins moves my tournament prediction record (since Round 2) to 24-6 (80%). Go with North Carolina.