Last year we made "10 Guarantees for 2003" and did pretty well, nailing
5 of them, whiffing on 4, and getting a sacrifice fly on the other. That added up to a .556 winning percentage. We figured
if the Brewers did that well this year, the city of Milwaukee would hold a parade. That being considered, we at least deserve
another shot this year.
So without further adieu, here are "10 more for 2004".....
1. A curse WILL be broken.
They have the best pitching staffs in their respective leagues. Both came
so painfully close to October glory last year, that it took one final punch in gut by the billy goat and the Bambino to thwart
the ultimate dream match up in the Fall Classic. The time is now -- write it down -- either the Cubs or Red Sox will win the
World Series in 2004.
2. The Braves run of division championships
and playoff appearances WILL end.
Yes, we predicted this last year and they won over 100 games, but it won't
happen again -- not without Javy Lopez, Gary Sheffield, and Greg Maddux. Look for a heated pennant race between the Marlins
and Phillies in the NL East.
3. The Kansas City Royals WILL win the AL Central.
While the Royals bolstered their roster signing the likes of Juan Gonzalez,
Benito Santiago and Scott Sullivan, the defending champion Twins were slashing payroll, dumping A.J. Pierzynski and Eric Milton.
The divsion's other contender in 2003, the White Sox, have also taken a step back, and may find themselves looking up at the
upstart Indians in the standings. Kansas City surprised the League by contending in 2003 and is ready to take the next step.
4. Eric Gagne WILL blow a save.
Nothing against the reigning Cy Young Award winner, but at some point he
will falter. After all he is human. Plus we need a gimme to boost our average -- sort of like a Texas Leaguer or infield hit.
5. Mark Prior WILL win the NL Cy Young.
He came close last year, finishing third, but that is just a sample of
what is in store for the 23-year-old. Look for him to develop into the most dominant pitcher of his generation.
6. Clemens and Pettitte WILL disappoint Astros
Since neither has ever pitched in the National League, it's reasonable
to expect the duo to struggle a little, but it goes beyond that. Pitching in the hitter friendly Minute Maid Park won't help
eithers' ERA, which was already bloated in 2003 (Clemens 3.91, Pettitte 4.02). Plus neither is exactly in the prime of their
careers. Look for Clemens to spend at least one stint on the DL.
7. Fred McGriff WILL hit his 500th home run.
Recently signed to a minor league deal with Tampa Bay, the "Crime Dog"
enters the 2004 season with 491 dingers. He is 40 years old and is coming off an injury plagued season that included his first
stint on the DL, but he was able to finish the 2003 season strong. We believe he still has some magic left in his bat and
should be a Hall of Famer.
8. The A's post season run WILL end.
Even with self-proclaimed genius Billy Beane running the show, the A's
have been unable to win a playoff series. They won't this year either -- they won't even get there. The free agent losses
and a punchless offense will finally catch up with Billy's Boys. Look for the Mariners and revamped Angels to jockey for the
AL West/wildcard titles.
9. The Yankees defense WILL do them in.
Their best shortstop is playing third base, their first baseman has spent
the last two seasons DHing, their center fielder turns 37 in May, their right fielder is 35 and has never been confused with
Dwight Evans, they have no legitimate second baseman (although that could change), and their shortstop....wait, we don't want
to hurt his feelings. Get the picture?
10. Barry Bonds WILL begin to act his age.
Bonds, who turns 40 in July, will begin to slow down this season. The BALCO
controversy could wear on him, but more-than-likely it will be father time that will finally catch up with the greatest slugger
of this generation. Make no mistake, were not saying that Bonds will hit .250 with 15 HR, he'll probably hover around .290
with 30 HR, but won't be the MVP force that we have been accustomed to seeing.