Here it comes again. As clockwork as a Kobe Bryant paternity test, the Major League Baseball season is upon us again. I like to think of the MLB season as the initial road trip Jon Faverau and Vince Vaughn take in Swingers. It starts with elation, as they shout ‘Vegas Baby! Vegas!’ driving along the highway with the roof down. They hit a long, middle slump where they comically mumble ‘Vegas baby, Vegas…’ barely audibly. Then, the payoff, with the excitement of Vegas itself.

Well, that’s the MLB season. The celebratory opening days with more fly overs than your average weekend in the skies over Baghdad. The long, meaty, slow and sleepy middle section, where the bad teams fall out of contention and only the true baseball fans are paying attention. All followed finally by the drama and excitement of the end of the season and the superb MLB playoffs.

Well, here it is again, on our doorstep

Today we want to talk about five sure things. Five things that are guaranteed to happen during this forthcoming MLB season. Mark it down now, you heard all these here first. If you live in a country where you are allowed place an adult wager (Sorry citizens of the United States, who’s troops battle to defend your freedoms so bravely, the freedom to buy an automatic weapon and kill some children but not the freedom to place a considered, adult wager) then march yourself on down to a bookmaker and throw some monies down on these babies.

Then sit back, login to your favourite NBA merchandising site and, guaranteed winnings in hand, order that ‘Baby Kobe’ Lakers jersey you always wanted.

Enough with the chit that. Let’s chop it up.

Numero Uno. Esteemed Boston Globe scribe Daniel Shaughnessy will start the season by pointing out to everyone that every single team is 0-0 and even the Baltimore Orioles have every chance of winning the World Series. This is not a slight on Dan. The first baseball book I ever read was his timeless ‘Curse of the Bambino’, and love him or hate him, he is a voluminous, entertaining baseball journalist. The man knows what he’s talking about. Doesn’t matter if he is more acerbic than a particularly acerbic Manhattan spinster that just graduated with a degree in acerbity from the college of the acerbic. That’s just his style. Mark it down though, he will be pointing that little fact out. Any day now.

The second item on our list, somebody will write a story on just how quirky San Francisco Giants hurler Tim Lincecum is. He has funny hair! His pitching mechanics are very odd! He has a free spirit and it relatively eloquent for a ball player! My money is on Rick Reilly, this is right in his wheel house and he probably has a template for this one, churning one out per season. Look at that goofy hair!!

Number three. A Red Sox/Yankees tilt will go over four hours. And Joe Buck will be the cause of at least one boredom related fatality during the same game. Most baseball fans would admit MLB needs to do something to speed the games up. Baseball just can't compete with the relative brevity of the NFL and NBA. The Red Sox are bad enough, taking a lot of bad pitches is a club ethos, but the Yankees are a law unto themselves. Jorgé Posada's long, painfully slow trips to the mound to chat to Andy Pettite about his five o' clock shadow or CC Sabathia about the awesome ten cheeseburgers he had last night are the stuff of legend. However, there is no way FOX in particular are going to let anything happen to this. It takes Joe Buck at least three point five hours to make a point, so the four hour run times suit them down to the ground.

Numero four. Mark this down as a given. After about three weeks of the season, with Tampa mired in a turgid 5-10 start, the ‘What is wrong with Tampa?!’ stories will start to emerge. Seeing as pretty much everything is copy-cat on the Internet these days, there will be about three to four days of these stories, to the point you will want to gouge your eyes out with a rusty spoon if you have to read another glib Joe Maddon quote. Maddon, the affable and entertaining Rays manager, already has white hair, what colour will it go as the Rays struggle? What’s that you say, ‘why are you so sure the Rays will struggle?’ Have no fear, you are going to read all about it after about three weeks and approximately a 5-10 start! However, you think they are going to be a contender, after slashing $30 million from their payroll? I wish I could say Rays fans deserve better, however they are the single most annoying fan base in Major League Baseball, so, they are getting roughly what they deserve. Even their own owner doesn’t like them.

Finally, we all know its coming. It is as inevitable as Sarah Palin’s forthcoming political self implosion. A-Rod will do something stupid this MLB season. Did you see him at the Superbowl? He can’t even eat popcorn without looking arrogant. A wag commented, at the time, ‘Only A-Rod can eat popcorn like that’. And they were right. Be it slapping the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s mitt, being photographed by the NY rags with a paint-by-numbers blonde that was not his wife, or allowing himself to be pictured kissing his reflection in the mirror, A-Rod never fails to deliver when it comes to being a complete muppet. We can all look forward to more in 2011. Play ball.




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