Major League Baseball’s Opening Day (in the United States) has almost arrived. The long wait for a new beginning is nearly over.
I miss this sport so much when it is gone. And I count on it, as former Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti explained in his classic essay, The Green Fields of the Mind.
It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.
I miss the ritual of the game when it’s gone. My Spring Training weekend in Mesa, Arizona, the first weekend of this month gave me a taste. It’s fun to watch the workouts in the morning and then go to some games to see our favorite players and then, in the later innings, the younger talent have their shot.
But starting Thursday, every day’s pitches, at bats, and games will count. So this seems like the best time for me to go on the record with predictions for how the season will go. Spoiler alert: I like the Chicago Cubs’ chances.
East Champion: Washington Nationals
Central Champion: Chicago Cubs
West Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers
Wild Cards: Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals
East Champion: New York Yankees
Central Champion: Cleveland Indians
West Champion: Houston Astros
Wild Cards: Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels
World Series: Chicago Cubs defeat the New York Yankees in six games. (If not the Cubs, I suspect the Washington Nationals will make it happen in the National League.)
Player Award Predictions:
NL MVP: Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs)
AL MVP: Aaron Judge (New York Yankees)
NL Cy Young: Noah Syndergaard (New York Mets)
AL Cy Young: Trevor Bauer (Cleveland Indians)
NL Rookie of the Year: Victor Robles (Washington Nationals)
AL Rookie of the Year: Eloy Jimenez (Chicago White Sox)
Welcome back, baseball. It’s great to have you back and have a daily reason to return to, as Giamatti wrote, “a green field, in the sun.”