web analytics
November 22, 2014 / 29 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Play Ball!

      The 2008 baseball season is finally here. These are my predictions:

 

National League East


 


      Led by Johan Santana and a diminished version of Pedro Martinez – both in terms of innings pitched and talent – the Mets still have the arms to top the division. Atlanta, though, has old hands Tom Glavine and John Smoltz and an improved bullpen. Third baseman Chipper Jones and first baseman Mark Teixeira anchor a lineup that’s better than that of the Mets, who’ll need a good year from first baseman Carlos Delgado to stave off the Braves.

 

      Philadelphia has the most balanced lineup in the league but can’t match the starting pitching of the Mets and Braves. The Phillies did bolster their bullpen with the addition of Brad Lidge (acquired from the Astros). Washington has the division’s best stadium in new Nationals Park, and underrated manager Manny Acta will get his players to land above the Florida Marlins.

 

      Marlins fans are suffering through yet another dismantling of their team and can only wonder when baseball’s best offensive shortstop will be traded. Compare Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez’s 2007 numbers to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Amazingly, both had 639 at-bats, but Ramirez outpunched Jeter -.332 average (Jeter, .322); 29 home runs (Jeter, 12); 89 RBIs, (Jeter, 73) and 51 stolen bases (Jeter, 15). So pencil in the Marlins for last and even though they’ll be last in attendance, they may be first in profits as the team collectively earns less than A-Rod.

 

National League Central

 

      The Cubs topped this division last year with only 85 victories and have enough punch to do it again. Their pitching is only adequate but no worse than that of other clubs in the Central. Milwaukee lost free agent closer Francisco Cordero to a better offer from the Reds and signed has-been closer Eric Gagne for the role. The Brewers’ young hitters will score runs but a leaky bullpen will give up a lot as well.

 

      Cincinnati should be the dominant team in the division by next year as top-notch prospects gain experience. Houston has a good young outfielder in Hunter Pence but not much more to brag about and will have a hard time bettering last year’s 73-89 record.


      St. Louis won’t match last year’s 78-84 record, and even if Albert Pujols stays healthy, the Cards may shuffle to the bottom. Pittsburgh has a great ballpark but the league’s worst team. 2008 will be the 16th consecutive season the Pirates will finish under .500 (tying a major league record).

 

National League West

 

      Arizona has strong starting pitching and good enough hitting to finish on top. Colorado has Matt Holliday and a better lineup but can’t top the pitching of the Diamondbacks. Los Angeles has a mixture of veterans and good young players, so new manager Joe Torre has the tools to compete.

 

      San Diego has better pitching than the Rockies and Dodgers, but not enough hitting. San Francisco has the worst lineup in the league and at times the defense makes it look like Harpo and Groucho are in the field. Without Barry Bonds, the Giants won’t even match last year’s dismal 71-91 record.

 

American League East

 

      The Yankees are a more talented and settled team this year. A-Rod is signed and the young pitchers proved they can win often in the big leagues. Second baseman Robinson Cano got better as last season wore on, hitting .343 with 57 RBIs after the all-star break.


      Boston is blessed with good starting pitching, great relievers, and strong hitting. Even though boppers David “Big Papi” Ortiz and Manny Ramirez combined to hit 391 home runs over the past five years with the Red Sox and there are a couple of other pesky hitters in the lineup, I’m going with the Yanks to top the division.

 

      Toronto is a good team that should be better this year. Adding veteran infielders David Eckstein and Scott Rolen improves the offense and Roy Halladay tops a pitching rotation that could beat the Yanks and Red Sox more often this season. Outfielder Vernon Wells had a bad shoulder last year (.245, 16 homers), and his numbers should be much higher this year. Look for a three-team race for the top spot.

 

      Tampa Bay might just be good enough to beat out most National League teams for the top spot. The Rays have several players tagged for stardom and should be even better next season. Baltimore needs to get better at several positions before it can compete in this tough division.

 

American League Central

 

      Detroit started the season missing leadoff man Curtis Granderson, who often started games with a double or triple. When their star center fielder returns from a hand injury and gets his timing back, the Tigers will be back to winning more often. Even though closer Todd Jones is not as dominant as others in the division, the Tigers will get better as the season wears on and their two top set up men, relievers Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya come off the disabled list.

 

      Cleveland is a tough, experienced team and would dominate any division in the National League. But a talking fish from Monsey tells me the Tribe will finish behind Detroit, and Boston will take the A.L. wild card spot. It will be a tough off-season for Indians fans if free agent pitcher C. C. Sabathia signs elsewhere, and especially hard to take if Detroit lands him. (The Tigers are swimming in cash after selling 2.6 million tickets before the season even began.)

 

      The White Sox upgraded their offense with shortstop Orlando Cabrera (.301 last year with the Angels) and outfielder Nick Swisher (22 homers for Oakland), but Chicago’s pitching isn’t as strong as Cleveland’s or quite as good as Detroit’s.

 

      Minnesota will try to compete without Johan Santana and Torii Hunter. Twins fans showed they were behind their newcomers by trekking through seven inches of snow to fill the Metrodome with its largest opening day crowd in 15 years. The Twins always seem to come up with nobodies who end up becoming somebodies.

 

      The Kansas City Royals outplayed the Tigers in the season’s opening series, proving they aren’t pushovers and can beat any club at any time.

 

American League West

 

      Seattle has five good starters and some solid finishers. Even though the lineup led by Ichiro Suzuki isn’t as good as the Angels’, the Mariners have enough to land on top. Los Angeles won six more games than Seattle last year, and the Angels have added Torii Hunter’s bat and glove. On paper, this is the best club in the division but games aren’t played on paper. On the field, I’m going with the Mariners.

 

      Texas has some good prospects but they’re mostly in the low minors and if they ever make an impact, it won’t be for several seasons. Oakland has some good pitching prospects who may make an impact as early as late this season. The Athletics are clearly a club on the rise; look for the rich clubs (Yankees, Mets, Tigers, Red Sox), to make a pitch for some of the A’s pitchers as the season wears on.

 

*     *     *

 

      So, I’m picking the Mets, Cubs and Diamondbacks to top their divisions in the National League and the Yankees, Tigers and Mariners in the American League.

 

      My wild card picks are the Braves in the National League and the Red Sox in the American League.

 

      The last time the Cubs won a World Series was one hundred years ago, in 1908; the last time the Cubs participated in a World Series was in 1945. Both times they played Detroit.


      Will it be the Cubs and Tigers in this year’s Fall Classic? Will the two New York teams play each other? Will only one New York team make it? If so, which one?

 

      I’ll give you my World Series choices and winner next month.

 

      Which teams are you picking?


 


      Irwin Cohen, the author of seven books, headed a national baseball publication for five years before earning a World Series ring working as a department head in a major league front office. His “Baseball Insider” column appears the second week of each month in The Jewish Press. Cohen, who is president of the Detroit area’s Agudah shul, may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.   

About the Author: The author of 10 books, Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years and interviewed the legendary Hank Greenberg. He went on to work for a major league team and became the first Orthodox Jew to earn a World Series ring. He can be reached in his Detroit area dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Play Ball!”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Colleagues of the hanged Arab bus driver whose death continues to be referred to as murder despite autopsy finding of suicide. These are Arab drivers of Egged buses, claiming they suffer discrimination by Israelis.
Arab Pathologist Singing New Tune: Murder (By Jews) Not Suicide
Latest Sections Stories
Kupfer-112114

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

Astaire-112114-Horse

There were many French Jews who jumped at the chance to shed their ancient identity and assimilate.

L to R: Sheldon Adelson, Shawn Evenhaim, Haim Saban

As Rabbi Shemtov stood on the stage and looked out at the attendees, he told them that “Rather than take photos with your cellphones, take a mental photo and keep this Shabbat in your mind and take it with you throughout your life.”

South-Florida-logo

Yeshiva v’Kollel Bais Moshe Chaim will be holding a grand celebration on the occasion of the institution’s 40th anniversary on Sunday evening, December 7. Alumni, students, friends and faculty of the yeshiva, also known as Talmudic University of Florida, will celebrate the achievement and vision of its founders and the spiritual guidance of its educational […]

The yeshiva night accommodates all levels of Jewish education.

Recently, Fort Lauderdale has been the focus of international news, and it has not been about the wonderful weather.

Rabbi Sacks held the position of chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for 22 years until September 2013.

The event included a dvar Torah by student Pesach Bixon, an overview of courses, information about student life and a student panel that answered frequently asked questions from a student perspective.

It is difficult to write about such a holy person, for I fear I will not accurately portray his greatness…

“Grandpa,” I wondered, as the swing began to slow down, “why are there numbers on your arm?”

So the real question is, “How can we, as hosts, make sure our guest beds are comfortable?” Because your guests will never say anything.

It was a land of opportunity, a place where someone who wasn’t afraid of a little hard work, or the challenges of adapting to a different climate and culture, could prosper.

Rule #1: A wife should never accompany her husband to hang out with his buddies at a fantasy football draft. Unless beer and cigars are her thing, that is.

There are many people today with very little training who put out shingles and proclaim themselves to be marital coaches, shalom bayis helpers, advisers etc.

The two World Series combatants, the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants, were Wild Card teams (meaning they didn’t win their respective divisions) that got hot at the right time.

More Articles from Irwin Cohen
J.D. Martinez

The two World Series combatants, the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants, were Wild Card teams (meaning they didn’t win their respective divisions) that got hot at the right time.

War hero Lou Brissi’s card was a much-sought-after one in Topps’s inaugural 1952 collection.

Many former baseball players who left us with happy memories also passed away in the past year.

“No kid is worth a million dollars to sign,” Newhouser said, “but if one kid is, it’s this kid.”

Zimmer was popular with veteran teammates like Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider – and with a rookie lefthander named Sandy Koufax.

I’m sure readers noticed those full-page advertisements that ran prior to last month’s meeting about the situation at the Brooklyn home of Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, rav of Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin. Avrohom chaired the even along with his brother Menachem, a prominent askan and the president of Lubicom.

I spoke twice during Pesach. The first topic was the Holocaust and Jewish ballplayers and the second was how I, a frum-from-birth Jew, ended up in major league baseball.

Even if a player reaches the big league level, there’s still no guarantee he’ll remain with one team for long. Former Jewish outfielder Richie Scheinblum comes to mind.

The snow has melted in most parts of the country and here in Florida, where I have my winter dugout in the Orthodox enclave of Century Village in West Palm Beach, I had the opportunity to take in several spring training games.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/sports/play-ball/2008/04/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: