Watching the first spring training games on the MLB Network always lifts my spirits. Some people believe that the new year begins on January 1st. The rest of us know that it begins on Major League Baseball’s Opening Day.
Although each spring makes fans of all 30 teams optimistic for the new season, there are some things that can be safely predicted in advance. I’ve jotted down a few of them here for your approval.
1) Somewhere in New England, a Red Sox fan will complain that the Yankees have an unfair financial advantage, though the Red Sox payroll in 2014 is estimated at 148 million dollars, about 42 million more than the average franchise.
2) Somewhere in the Tri-State area, a Yankees fan will complain about the new austerity that the current regime has imposed on this storied franchise. Yet, like a drunk for whom every drink is going to be his last, the Yankees payroll in 2014 will be around 194 million dollars, about 45% more than the average MLB payroll.
3) Somewhere on the North American continent, a player will consider the odds of getting caught using steroids, will rationally think through the consequences of getting caught, and will still decide that it is in his best financial interests to supplement his natural body chemistry to enable him to perform at a higher level of play.
4) Somewhere on that same continent, a late middle-aged man will consider the odds of enjoying a successful sexual encounter with his wife or girlfriend, will realize that his chances are remote without a supplement such as Cialis, and will, therefore, ingest this drug to supplement his natural body chemistry to enable him to perform at all. Odds are, this man will rip the baseball “cheaters” who he believes to be steroid users, the very next day.
5) The Mets will, once again, win between 70 and 80 games. Manager Terry Collins will do his best to make you believe no finer 74-win team has ever existed on the face of the Earth, and millionaire team owner Jeff Wilpon will somehow continue to enjoy the support of some Mets fans who, for some strange reason, see it as their duty to try to find ways to help him save money.
6) Perhaps even as I type this, a highly touted pitching prospect will go down needing Tommy John surgery. No one will be surprised. Yet somehow, someone will blame the “unusually high pitch count” that the pitcher endured during a spring training game.
7) A-Rod, noticing he has been off the front pages for a while, will make a statement that is at once offensive, guileless, self-serving and naive. Baseball’s Twitterati will explode in predictably humorless, self-righteous, and self-serving indignation (you know who you are.)
8) Just for fun, Miguel Cabrera will pull down another Triple-Crown, simply because he can.
9) The Braves will finally come to their senses and realize that second baseman Dan Uggla is no longer an actual baseball player, nor even a reasonable facsimile of one.
10) Brewers center-fielder extraordinaire Carlos Gomez will rob no fewer than ten hitters of home runs this year, and will save every Brewers’ pitcher an average of 0.45 on their ERA. Yankees G.M. Brian Cashman is already plotting several moves ahead, figuring out the circumstances under which he might bring Gomez to the Big Apple. Meanwhile, Mets G.M. Sandy Alderson is having toast and tea, with his favorite strawberry preserves, watching reruns of the old Bob Newhart Show.
11) At some point, apropos to nothing, a rabid Pete Rose fan will remind us all, once again, why PETE ROSE BELONGS IN THE HALL OF FAME!!! (They always type all in caps.)
12) At the All Star break, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will have hit 30 homers, with 85 RBI and a .309 batting average. But due to a second-half injury, he will finish the season with 37 homers, 102 RBI and a .289 batting average, and will finish third in voting for the N.L. MVP award.
13) Commissioner Bud Selig, in his final season at the helm of MLB, will dream of a deep, profound speech he will give at a black-tie dinner in his honor. But when he wakes up, he will fart loudly, scratch his ass, and realize the only part of the speech he remembers from his dream is, “You’re all probably wondering why I came here to speak to you tonight.”
14) In a factory in Turrealba, Costa Rica, a women, not yet old, but getting old before her time, will dream of a better life someday for her family as she sits stitching baseball’s together for the Rawlings Corporation for $1.60 per hour, ten hours a day. If she can stitch above her weekly quota, she will earn an extra 56 cents per baseball she produces. Meanwhile, each baseball retails for $14.99 in the U.S.A. Rawlings annual revenue is around $213 million dollars per year.
15) The noise level at ballparks will finally reach the decibel level first achieved by The Who back in 1978. No one will have any idea of what’s going on down on the field, but there will be plenty of giveaways, the youngsters will be able to run around on the grass in the picnic area, and the twenty-somethings will occupy themselves taking selfies with their I-Phones and posting Facebook status updates throughout the entire game. Clearly, this isn’t your great-grandfather’s baseball experience. But then again, baseball will continue to evolve and survive, just as it has always done.