It's that time of year again. I proudly present to you my predictions for the 2012 Major League Baseball season. A year ago, I outlandishly predicted that the Chicago Cubs would win their first World Series title in 103 years. Well, I do not think the Cubs will win their first World Series title in 104 years.
Before I go further I should note that there will be an extra wild card team in each league. The two wild cards teams will face each other in a one game playoff and the winner will proceed to their respective league division series. So it is conceivable that a third place team could win the 2012 World Series. Another way of looking at it is that twenty years ago, a team had a 1 in 7 chance to make the post-season. Today, a team has a 1 in 3 chance to make the post-season. It could certainly be argued that MLB is being watered down. On the other hand, it could also be argued that MLB is allowing for more competition and more competition means better pennant races. No one can argue that the stretch drive of the 2011 season wasn't amongst the most exciting in the history of MLB with the collapse of the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves and the surge of the Tampa Bay Rays and the eventual World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
And what a World Series it was! The Texas Rangers were one strike away from winning the World Series not once, but twice, yet couldn't grab the brass ring. Game 6 of the 2011 World Series was arguably the best game ever played in more than a century of the Fall Classic. But who knows? Maybe the 2012 World Series will be even better. Now let me tell you how I think this season will proceed.
New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays#
Tampa Bay Rays
Boston Red Sox
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Los Angeles Angels
# - denotes AL Wild Card winners
AL Award Recipients
AL MVP -- Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels
AL Cy Young -- Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels
AL Rookie of the Year -- Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays
AL Manager of the Year -- Ned Yost, Kansas City Royals
AL Comeback Player of the Year -- Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox
New York Mets
St. Louis Cardinals
San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
## - denotes NL Wild Card winners
NL Award Recipients
NL MVP -- Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
NL Cy Young -- Josh Johnson, Miami Marlins
NL Rookie of the Year -- Trevor Bauer, Arizona Diamondbacks
NL Manager of the Year -- Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates
NL Comeback Player of the Year -- Jamie Moyer, Colorado Rockies
2012 MLB POST-SEASON
AL Wild Card Match Up -- Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays -- Texas advances to ALDS
American League Divisional Series (ALDS) -- Best three out of five
New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers -- Rangers in four
Los Angeles Angels vs. Kansas City Royals -- Angels in three
American League Championship Series (ALCS) -- Best four out of seven
Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers -- Rangers in seven
NL Wild Card Match Up -- Miami Marlins vs. Washington Nationals -- Miami advances to NLDS
National League Divisional Series (NLDS) -- Best three out of five
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates -- Pirates in five
Colorado Rockies vs. Miami Marlins -- Marlins in four
National League Championship Series (NLCS) -- Best four out of seven
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Miami Marlins -- Marlins in six
2012 World Series -- Best four out of seven
Texas Rangers vs. Miami Marlins -- Marlins in six
So with apologies to Nolan Ryan and Ron Washington, the Texas Rangers will become only the third team in MLB history to lose three consecutive World Series joining the 1907-1909 Detroit Tigers and the 1911-1913 New York Giants.
But the biggest story in the 2012 season will come out of Boston. Later this month, Fenway Park will commemorate its 100th anniversary. This month also marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and I believe the Red Sox season will bear a great deal of resemblance to it. I suppose we can be grateful that no women and children will be involved.
When a team has the sort of collapse the Red Sox had last year, it is not something that is overcome overnight. It took more than a decade for the Philadelphia Phillies to return to the post-season after their spectacular collapse in the final two weeks of the 1964 season. The Phillies would be the beneficiary of the New York Mets' collapse in the final two weeks of the 2007 season and by the looks of it many years will pass before the Mets see post-season baseball.
It may very well have been time for Terry Francona to move on. Even with two World Series titles under his belt, all good things must come to an end. But hiring Bobby Valentine reeks of desperation. The Red Sox collapse has only just begun and making Valentine the captain of the ship means they are accelerating towards the iceberg. Valentine and new Red Sox GM Ben Cherington have already butted heads over whether to put Daniel Bard in the starting rotation or whether Jose Iglesias or Mike Aviles should be the starting shortstop. If they're having problems before the first pitch of the 2012 season, then imagine how things could be in the dog days of August.
Although there will be much reverie when Fenway Park marks its 100th anniversary, as a Red Sox fan it pains me to say there will be little joy at Yawkey Way this season.