The Commish or The Soothsayer?
July 21, 2003
With the All-Star Break behind us, it's time to take a look at how The Commish's preseason predictions are holding up. In case you missed it, you can read it here. Now let's see if The Commish has a future as a psychic, although if I were psychic, I'd already know.
Right about: The AL East. The Yankees are in first, but the Red Sox seem to have enough talent to go far in the playoffs with a healthy Pedro.
Wrong about: The Royals. The AL Central is positioned exactly as predicted except the surging Royals are in first instead of last. Oops.
Right about: Anaheim having difficulty getting past Oakland's staff.
Wrong about: Seattle being behind Oakland and Anaheim. The Mariners continue to amaze.
Right about: The NL East. Everyone is performing as predicted, with the Mets flailing, the Braves winning, and the Marlins surprising some people.
Wrong about: The NL Central. Not way off, but the standings are skewed with Houston's win streak and Cincy's slump. I expected a Cubs' record of .500 to be good for 4th or 5th, but instead it puts them in 3rd and just 4 1/2 games back of 1st.
Right about: The problems of the Rockies and Padres. The Padres have nothing going well right now except Rod Beck (!) and the Rockies are only 1 game under .500 but 20 games under on the road! That will never do.
Wrong about: Success of the Giants. I thought they'd suffer after losing so much, but they are thriving despite a disappointing season from Edgardo Alfonzo. Bonds in the lineup makes everyone else more dangerous.
Of my 8 predicted playoff teams, none of them are too far back, and Arizona finally will have Schilling and Johnson in the rotation at the same time. If they do win the wild card or catch the Giants, it will probably be at the expense of the Dodgers, who are searching for hitting in all possible outlets. It wouldn't surprise me if the Twins or White Sox overtake the Royals, but it's not looking good for the A's if they want to catch the Mariners anytime soon. I still think Boston will hold off the other wild card contenders. Who knows, they still might be meeting Arizona in the Fall Classic, giving The Commish a chance at a second career. How much do crystal balls cost nowadays?
Notes and Predictions
U.S. Cellular rings true
U.S. Cellular may not be as fan friendly as Camden, Pac Bell, and the other new parks, but the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game proved one thing about the former Comiskey Park: you have to earn your runs. Pujols crushed some balls that only landed halfway up the bleachers - not off some facade or onto a concourse, but in the bleachers where home runs belong. In the All-Star Game, the scoring was high but the home runs were earned, while the long fly balls (like Furcal's) ended where they belong, on the warning track. If every park played like U.S. Cellular, today's stats would ring truer than they do. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch Tony Batista pull an outside pitch over the left field wall at Camden Yards and you'll see what I mean by a real "unearned" run.
Injuries in the outfield
The hitters have kept the Reds close in the first half, but with Griffey and Kearns out and the pitching looking more and more like batting practice, Reds fans can start looking toward next year.
Rally Monkeys must spoon, because they don't lay "back to back"
The Angels made quite a late season run last year, but there are too many teams ahead of them this year to warrant any playoff consideration. They can't pass the Mariners AND the A's, and the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Twins, and White Sox all won't roll over in the next 2 months.
My sincerest apologies
Vinny Castilla deserves a huge apology after I questioned his place in baseball last year. He has been resurgent at the plate all year, including a .567 clip over his last 10 games.