1. The Tigers will not win the AL Central. Too many people are predicting them to be good. Expectations never did anyone any favors. People used to expect things from me. I showed them. The Tigers will wilt under the pressure. 50 wins, if they’re lucky. 35, if the strike happens, as I suspect it will (see prediction #8). 30, after the loss of Justin Verlander (see prediction #6). 25, after the loss of oxygen (see prediction #4). Also, after a confused employee in the team’s marketing department messes up his instructions for arranging a commercial shoot, a real tiger will maul and then devour the entire starting infield.
2. At least one major league stadium will burn down during a game, killing thousands of people, with the entire event captured on live television. Does no one else realize what a fire hazard all of those deep fryers are? There are so many french fries and onion rings being casually dipped in hot oil, without taking into account the dangers. Surely we have gone too long in this country without a massive, devastating fire. We’re overdue. And television cameras will capture all of it — the screaming, the burning flesh, the slightly-tragic loss of human life. I know I’ll be watching.
3. The Astros will move back to National League. Change is hard. Change is scary. Sometimes too hard, and you just want to run back into the warm comfort from where you came. Sure, they weren’t doing very well in the NL, but the last place they know is better than the last place they don’t. Led by the blinding speed of Jose Altuve (see prediction #5), they’ll run right back to the NL before April is even over.
4. The baseball season will be cut short due to atmospheric changes leading to a decline in oxygen levels and the extinction of virtually all life on Earth. I realize this is a fairly bold prediction, but no more unlikely than R.A. Dickey repeating as Cy Young winner or Tim Lincecum returning to form. We take for granted how unique the conditions had to be for the planet to support life. We will take it for granted no longer.
5. Jose Altuve’s speed will blind someone. I’m not sure who. This prediction is a little fuzzy. Might be the anti-psychotics I’m taking.
6. Justin Verlander will die of lung cancer. Being around Jim Leyland for so many years has to take its toll. There’s no way there aren’t tumors growing in pretty much everyone on that team. And you know what they say about tumors. Undetected, they continue to grow, and eventually cut off the blood supply to major organs. Verlander, on the mound one minute, convulsing in front of second base the next minute, laying unclaimed in a morgue two hours later, his family kidnapped by bandits on their way to collect the body.
7. Rooting for your favorite team, either from home or live at the stadium, will influence the outcome of exactly zero games, and zero individual player performances. Paul Konerko is going to hit that home run off your fantasy team’s ace starter whether you watch or not, no matter who you pray to, and no matter how much you delude yourself into thinking you can control the outcome. Sorry, folks. Also, if you’re having trouble at home, retreating to your man cave to watch a weekend doubleheader isn’t going to help. Your wife is still sleeping with the plumber. And there’s a huge leak in the pipes, which means that man cave is about to sink into the dirt and be swallowed into the depths of the planet.
8. A baseball strike cuts out 50 games in the middle of the summer. No, the contract isn’t expiring, but do we really think ballplayers are bright enough to realize that? Some precipitating incident — a Ryan Braun suspension, for instance — will lead to the union going on strike, and, just like last time, owners scavenging among the desperate and unemployed to find replacement players. I’m willing to be your backup catcher, Mr. Wilpon. Yes, even in my wildest fantasies, I am merely a backup catcher. Future bench coach. If you’re gonna dream, dream big.
9. Juan Ovieda will change his name back to Leo Nunez, because it’s hard to live someone else’s life without becoming too attached to let go.
10. Finally, thousands of children will get injured playing Little League baseball, because every year thousands of children get injured playing Little League baseball. Too much of a downer to end on? Okay, at least one child will not get hurt playing Little League baseball, and some team is going to win the World Series, whether they deserve it or not. Really, it’s all pretty much random chance anyway, so what’s the point of caring? Happy 2013!
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