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Without fail, every spring I wax poetic about the return of baseball and all that is Good and True in the world. Baseball is part of American culture.
Just look at last year’s playoffs and the Red Sox and Cubs fans. During the off-season, baseball stayed in the headlines, what with THG, the incredible amount of player movement and the insane Sox-Yankees competition.
But for all the entertainment that baseball provided, it proved over and over that the game is tainted. Now when players report to camp, we wonder who’s juiced, who’s not and who the hell is on what team.
I know, though, that baseball will endure. The allegiances and rivalries of the game may encourage doing whatever it takes to get ahead, but that competitive fire is also undeniably precious. So with that optimism, I give you my top five wishes for the season ahead.
5. Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte become power hitters.
How funny is it going to be to see these two hulking power pitchers bat for the first time in their careers?
I want to see them get brushed back, glare at the opposing pitcher and then slap a liner right back at the mound. I want them to whiff so bad that the outfielders feel the breeze. I want them to share tips on hitting during their daily workouts.
I want one of them to go head-to-head with Mark Prior or Kerry Wood, matching zeroes inning after inning, and then win the game with a walk-off homer.
Hey, it is a field of dreams after all...
4. Pitchers actually pitch to Barry Bonds.
Put an asterisk next to his name if you want, but good Lord, can Bonds hit. I bet he could crank out close to 100 homers if he saw anything decent at the plate.
Let’s see him try.
3. A big name to get caught on steroids.
Truthfully, only a dumb player with horrible trainers is going to get caught juicing. The testing policy is such a joke that nothing will happen to the guy until the fifth positive test anyway.
Still, imagine what would happen if Bonds or Jason Giambi or Gary Sheffield actually got caught. A report in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday said that investigators were told those three sluggers received steroids from BALCO and that Bonds also used human growth hormone.
Big surprise, right? I mean, I even wrote a final paper last semester on THG and steroids and how they are entrenched in professional sports. These three ballooned late in their careers, and even Bonds’ head got noticeably bigger—a possible side effect of hGH.
That’s right, his head actually got bigger.
But even though steroid use is obvious, oh man, just imagine if one of them got caught. Just imagine.
2. Toronto makes a run in the AL East.
All during the off-season, you hear the Red Sox this and the Yankees that. But people, the Blue Jays ain’t bad.
They’ve got Roy Halladay, Vernon Wells, and Carlos Delgado. As ESPN’s Jayson Stark pointed out, Halladay was the rotation last year on a team that won 86 games. Toronto has added six veterans to their staff. Add in the RBI machines Wells and Delgado, and this team has a serious shot at the playoffs.
And how funny would it be if one or both of the Sox and Yanks fall flat on their overpaid faces and tank? So funny.
1. Houston wins the World Series.
This team has the talent.
The Astros have the best rotation in baseball. Wade Miller is only the fourth best starter on the team. Clemens is only third.
The lineup is stacked top to bottom, including Bags, Bidge, Kent, Berkman, and Doggy. Brad Ausmus, the best catcher in the league, is back. Octavio Dotel is finally getting to close, and he’s ready.
This team deserves it, too.
It’s so easy to root for Houston: missing the playoffs by one lousy game, not one playoff series win in the history of the team, the return of two hometown heroes this season. And man, the fans want it—they blew out the switchboard calling for season tickets.
The Astros are a team harking back to the Good and the True—it’s their time. Play ball.
—Staff writer Brenda E. Lee can be reached at email@example.com.
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