You can feel it coming. It's out there in the distance...like a beacon, like a beacon burning brightly fueled by the flaming, rotting carcasses of the dead college and NFL seasons. Opening Day. Major League Baseball Opening Day. Say it, let it course through your veins like high quality heroin bought off that dyslexic guy downtown in front of the Grill...what's his name? It's weird...like some sort of futuristic moniker that only the drug-adled could think up...Lorex! That's it. Holy crap...have I said too much? You catch the drift though....baseball, beloved baseball begins in just 71 days. Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in less than 30. And don't worry...I know you want to say it, so I'll just say it for you...it's about slam-damn time.
What my heaven looks like - see right there in the first row...behind the O's dugout...Jesus, Houdini and Charlamagne and it looks like Jesus is keeping score.
Why I am telling you all this...what has got me all caught up in a baseball tizzy (one of the fiercest tizzies imaginable)? Because today, after a week of vigilant checking, Barnett's Newstand downtown finally stocked the FIRST of the baseball preview magazines. Granted it's only the fantasy baseball preview, not the more in-depth team by team preview edition, but still it's the first sign that soon we can all stop pretending to care about the NFL and move on to the National Pastime.
So to just give you a taste to whet the insatiable baseball appetite we all harbor...I present to you the Sporting News Fantasy Baseball First Round Mock Draft:
1) Albert Pujols - no brainer at #1, the best hitter in baseball even if he is a Barry Bondsian whiner/bad teammate.
Respect his game, just don't look at him or talk to him if you're on his team.
2) Ryan Howard - a beast of a first baseman and only 27...so good it's scary.
3) A-Rod - I am not ashamed to say that I love A-Rod. He's one of favorite baseball superstars and I hope the Yankee fans boo him so much they are forced to trade him to Baltimore for a package that includes Haydenn Penn, Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora.
4) Alfonso Soriano - personally I would have probably chosen Soriano over A-Rod, just because of the stolen bases...though he is going to the Cubs which probably means he will be mauled by wolves in the Arizona desert during Spring Training, be involved in a tragic mini-putt accident while playing a foursome with Mark Prior, Kerry Wood and Steve Bartman, or suffer some other weird Cubsian disaster.
5) Johan Santana - Hmm...a pitcher this high? Not for me. But if you have to take a pitcher might as well take the best one in baseball...next to Erik Bedard that is.
6) Jose Reyes -Did you see this guy's numbers last year: .300+, 20 HR, 60+ SBs the kid is a beast and apparently is a force when playing Jenga.
7) Vlad - Again, I would have Vlad a little higher, probably ahead of both Johan and Reyes purely for his consistency and he's got a great name and swings like he's strung out on Lorex's good stuff.
Is he about to crush a homerun or club a litter of excess puppies to death? Who cares...it's just Vlad bein' Vlad.
8) Carl Crawford - Has about the same numbers as Reyes but Reyes is a shortstop. Still he's got da skillz as the fly fresh youngstahs would say. If he gets traded to an actual Major League team his stock would sky-rocket. Somehow I just think I would be dissapointed if I came out of the first round with Carl.
9) David Ortiz - Would refuse to draft him purely because he is a whiny, sissy, Red Sock. If I'm taking a DH in the first round I'd take my bizz-oy Hafner.
10) Chase Utley - I will never forgive myself for dropping Utley the first week of the season a couple of years ago when I found out that he would be platooning with Placido Polanco. I consider that the worst mistake I've ever made in my life next to murdering my imaginary childhood friend Steve...yeah...imaginary.
11) Lance Berkman - Really Sporting News? Lance Berkman? No doubt he had a monster year last year but he's an oft injured power hitter at a position where there are a million power hitters. I think I would rather have a Beltran, Ichiro, Bay, or Tejada here.
12) Miguel Cabrera - This kid is 23! Can you believe that? Seems like he's been around for ever. Great hitter who will only get better assuming he doesn't eat his weight in chicken fingers over the offseason.