On June 21st, I had the pleasure of sitting down and interviewing Dave Jageler. You might know him from the Nationals radio broadcasts on 106.7 The Fan or player interviews at occasions such as NatsFest. He had a lot of interesting things to say and knows lots about the Nats, and is also a pretty funny guy. So without any further ado…
This was the team that made D.C. dream. We cheered with them, cried with them, and sung “Take on Me” with them. 2012 was an incredible year for the Nationals.
The time of year is once again upon us. The trees are budding, the weather is getting nicer, and ballparks are once again being filled with tens of thousands of fans, eager to see their home team for the first time since the fall, all believing that their chances are promising, no matter how abysmal the team was the last year or how terrible it looks on paper. Spring is a time of hope, but also a time to look forward – to the countless home runs, the stars, the fights, the miracles, the comebacks and the surprise teams.
And at the beginning of every year, I attempt to guess what team will do what, who will win where, and how it will happen. I never get it right. In fact, the team predicted to finish last in their division by many actually took home a World Series trophy. So don’t blame me for getting it wrong. But there’s no point in not trying. So today, I will give you your
2014 AL PREVIEW:
For the first time in a very long time, the
Rangers are not a threat. Not like they were in 2010, 2011 and 2012, when they were dominant throughout the season, with the exception of the September of 2012. So for the first time in a while, it’s really an open slot. The A’s seem very promising, with young Sonny Gray and Yoenis Cespedes, so they should get their three-peat. The Astros, while they have a promising future, do not have a promising today. The first real young talent shouldn’t start to flourish until 2015, although some predict we’ll see Correa and Appel by August or September, depending on injuries and how they do in the Minors. The Mariners made the biggest splash of the offseason, signing Cano to a megadeal. However, their lack of bullpen, rotation and really everywhere-else depth should come back to bite them. Which leaves one sleeper team. The Angels had gone through two years of making big free agent purchases and then not even coming close to winning their division, let alone even a playoff spot. For the first time since those years though, everybody is healthy. Mike Trout is now in season three of an already legendary career. But the question is: Can the Angels can pull it out this year? I’m pretty torn on this. The chances of them getting a wild card spot are about fifty-fifty. But even though I can’t see the Rangers finishing second, the AL East and Central are just too strong for the Angels.
PROJECTED RECORDS: (x indicates division champions, y indicates playoff berth)
Without a doubt, this is a three team division. Cleveland is one of those three. Cleveland finished hot last year, and even though they did lose the one-game wild card, they showed a lot of promise. With Kipnis finally breaking out, and the squad really meshing together, it looks to be another promising year for Cleveland, unless the Royals can pull something off. However, the one team that will beat them in their own division this year is Detroit. Detroit, while losing 1B Prince Fielder, Starting Pitcher Doug Fister and SS Jose Iglesias until July, has proven they can win. With the one-two punch of Verlander-Scherzer, then more depth in the rotation, the pitching isn’t a worry, except for the bullpen. The lineup includes back-to-back MVP Miguel Cabrera, who has gone back to his native first base after a hysterical stint at third, 2B Ian Kinsler, a nice speedy guy with some pop and V-Mart at catcher, arguably still the best switch hitter in the game. Expect to see another division championship from them. The Royals are a legit threat now, but the question remains if they can jump past the Indians, and any other team in Wild-Card contention. While they are projected to have a great season with Hosmer and Infante dominating, they are just too far down the totem pole to really have a chance, unless the Indians or a couple other wild-card possibilities fall out of it, but expect them to fight until the end. However, the future is very bright, with one of baseball’s best farm systems – next year could be very big, or if anyone speeds through, there may be some new hope. The White Sox, while signing Abreu, didn’t do much of anything else this offseason, which will bite them. A weak farm system doesn’t give them much hope for the future – don’t expect much of anything from these guys this year. The Twins, while boasting the best farm system in the game, can’t boast about anything else. But with Brian Buxton and Miguel Sano both rising very quickly through the minors, happy times may come soon for fans of the Twinkies.
Kansas City 86-76
If there was ever a doubt in your mind, I’d like to place this in there. This is the toughest division in all of baseball. Not the NL Central, not the AL West – this is it, right here. The reigning champions are a good place to start. The Red Sox only lost one major piece of the 2013 World Series puzzle, Jacoby Elisbury, who will be easily replaced by Jackie Bradley Jr. The rest of the team is still there, so the only remaining question is if they can keep the momentum from 2013 going, and keep the clubhouse meshed like it was. Watch out for Xander Bogarts to have a breakout season. The Rays are always a threat. They have great talent all around the diamond, and should be expected to fight it out, and probably win the division. I can’t say much more, because I honestly don’t know all that much about the Rays. The Orioles are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2013. While they did lose Reynolds and McClouth, and Machado may be out for a while, expect them to contend. The pitching is the only thing I can see falling apart, but with some great prospects, that’s going to be pretty hard to mess up. The Yankees brought in three big names, McCann, Tanaka and Beltran. Two of the three are very proven. However, the pitching staff and lack of offense elsewhere, unless Jeter figures things out, could be pretty hard to fix. But expect them to contend. The only non-contending team is the Blue Jays, who took everything from the Marlins, and somehow made it even worse. The combination obviously doesn’t work with Reyes, Buehrle, Johnson and the others. It’s time for the Jays to get some prospects and admit it’s time for a fresh start.
xTampa Bay 93-69
New York 85-71
Wild Card Game: CLEVELAND over Boston
ALDS: OAKLAND over Cleveland, TAMPA over Detroit
ALCS: OAKLAND over Tampa
Stay tuned for the NL later in the week!
It’s looked promising for the past two or three years. The promised land was close. The ship was sailing, and others recognized the threat. Last year, only a last second blow from an eastern force kept them from destiny. Now the only thing lying between them and destiny – is the brother.
This isn’t a story of David and Goliath. There is no “Real” favorite. While one team looks a bit stronger then the other, you can’t pick this game right away.
Jim Harbaugh and John Harbaugh grew up competitors. But I don’t think they ever got to this level of competition in the backyard. The parents will be watching, that’s for sure. I don’t think they’ll be picking sides.
Both the Ravens and 49ers came painfully close last year. And now, one is going to come even more painfully close – and fall.
I am very excited for the super bowl, even though my Patriots aren’t there. Kapernick will add a second dimension to it – the first non “Power arm” quarterback in the super bowl for quite a while.
For Ray Lewis, this is his swansong. A loss here would mean eternal pain for him later on – to come so close in that final season only to lose. This isn’t just his battle though – he’s a general in the battle of the defenses.
It will be a slugfest, no doubt. But this game will mean even more than usual for the coaches – they could win, but send their brother home with pain. However, I think they both don’t care about that yet. Last year hurt too much to be sympathizing for the other. Right now, I think all they care about – and maybe all they will ever care about – is replacing those 2012 memories with 2013 victories.
Sidenote: I will do more pieces on the Harbowl, and will be doing the same thing with my super bowl prediction as last year, 4 quarters, 4 posts, 4 days, all ending on Super Bowl Sunday.
The Spurs completed a sweep last night in LA, where they hoped for 2 championships in the same year. The Kings’ dream is still alive, but as it looks, LA will not be hoisting the Larry ‘O Brien trophy this year. The Lakers are one loss away from elimination, and Lob City is out.
Lob city, by far was my favorite team to watch all year. It took the excitement of Blake Griffin, and then put some wins behind it. It seemed like that 2012 was the year that LA had two teams, not the Lakers and a joke. No, wins brought LA to the postseason.
They were tons of fun to watch. Between Blake Griffin’s countless incredible dunks (GRIFFINATION!!!) beating the Lakers, and filling the stands with 19,000 people, it was great. You never knew what you’d see tonight, a blow out, a last second buzzer beater, or a normal win – with abnormal dunks from Blake Griffin. They were .606 in the regular season, winning their first playoffs since 1997.
They had a great series against the Grizzlies, which went down to the last minute of game 7. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin combined for 27 points, but the bench picked them up, scoring 55 points. Unfortunately, it left them tired and overwhelmed, and were swept by the Spurs.
But this isn’t it for the super team from LA. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they made it to the finals next year, because Lob City is here to stay.
In November of 2011, Albert Pujols seemed to have everything. Two world series rings, 3 MVP trophies, and a town to love him. As it seems, most people would be happy with that, if not satisfied and ready to call St. Louis home. We all want more though. And he left his fans, his home and his team behind for glitzy L.A. And sure, there is the effect of C.J Wilson and Torii Hunter, but he didn’t join the Angels just for that. He joined it for the money.
As we all feel like, it seemed very LeBron like to join another team even when he has success, fame and fortune. Albert Pujols also wanted a chance to win. But it’s different. Albert left because of money. LeBron had a legit reason to go to Miami – he wasn’t winning championships.
But Albert had just won a world series. He had left his home.
Leaving for money is what it has come down to. Money, money money in the rich man’s world. Many Cardinals fans were dismayed, incredibly shocked, worried. But the fame effects us so we feel as if it’s only money. I don’t know why.
Maybe you get this sense that you can do anything and money is all that matters. Once you get to the point that money is more important than championships, it’s a sad, sad day.
The Lakers are in a tough situation right now. Kobe Bryant is the face of a renowned franchise, and yet struggling. His criticism of the Lakers front office and the players could land him in a spot where he doesn’t want to be. And while we all think the Lakers are the greatest, they would actually barely be the number 6 seed in the playoffs on this day.
Now, to all my friends in Los Angeles (which I’ll admit there are few), I’m not trying to say the Lakers stink, and they don’t. But, they need to do a couple things here, like get points from other sources aside from Gasol and Bryant.
Let’s take a little pressure off of Kobe here, okay? In case you noticed, he isn’t bad – in fact, he’s the only player on the team that is in the twenties for scoring. And Pau, for a center is playing pretty darn well. But, after Steve Blake, everybody else is below 5.5 points a game.
Getting a little more out of everyone else could keep Kobe and Pau in the place they want to be – Los Angeles. But can they? Well, we’ll know as soon as the trade deadline approches if Pau Gasol will stay a Laker, or wear another uniform, which will greatly effect Kobe. And we wait another day.