This season, the Red Sox will certainly fare well, based not on a strong pitching roster or a respectable batting lineup, but simply by the sheer force of will and fantastic cadence of the name Jarrod “Salty” Saltalamacchia. If there is any rule to baseball prognostications, it’s that satisfying consonance with a touch of quirky embellishment is necessary for success. Take Mickey Mantle, Kirby Puckett, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, or Rance Mulliniks. They all just roll off the tongue with the gentle staccato of a Garbage Pail Kids character. One begins to wonder if Mickey Mantle was successful simply because of the emotional reinforcement of hearing his unique name on a regular basis. By the same principle, how could anyone named Salty not be the living embodiment of sports achievement? His nickname is Salty after all.
Look for the Giants to rekindle the momentum of their 2010 pennant after Brian Wilson summons the ghosts of Rollie Fingers and Catfish Hunter to instruct him on facial hair grooming. The team will make it to the AL championship but will lose to the Marlins after Tim Lincecum is found naked and screaming in the dugout while attempting to recreate Dock Ellis’s LSD no-hitter. He never recovers and leaves baseball to start an antique shop outside of Santa Clara that specializes in knockoff Tiffany lamps.
The Yankees will start strong, but by mid-season they will lose stride by what is dubbed “Yankees’ malaise,” wherein team players become bored with the excessive attention they receive. A-Rod and Derek Jeter will start taking naps in the infield. In a post-game interview, Manny Rivera will encourage the media to focus on the unique characteristics of other teams “who all have their own unique styles and proficiencies.” He will be immediately traded to the Cardinals for $1,000 and an assortment of collectible Beanie Babies.
Without a good closer, Cleveland will struggle to keep a winning percentage until they re-institute Five Cent Beer Night. The ensuing violence will be some of the worst the city has seen in decades. Violent fans will confuse catcher Carlos Santana with the musician and riot, demanding longer guitar solos during the seventh-inning stretch. Games will be beset by a constant barrage of drunken heckling and projectile garbage, but enthusiasm will remain strong. Batters will eventually learn to use the burning mattresses that litter the field to their advantage. Not unlike Boston’s Green Monster, a so-called “fester pile” will be designated as an infield home run for those skilled enough to aim for it.
Nolan Ryan will undergo massive Tommy John surgery, moving all of his calf muscles onto his shoulder and will be unable to walk yet still pitches a 1.20 ERA with three no-hitters from a Red Ryder wagon.
Although playing well, attendance at Nationals games will dwindle after the team realizes that half the stands are filled with people eager to see the Presidents Race instead of the game. Coach Davey Johnson will use this to his advantage by making all the players wear oversized Teddy Roosevelt uniforms. An inability to run in a straight line or see pitches destroys the teams’ batting averages, but they make up for it by severely beating the George Washington mascot to a bloody pulp.
Angry anti-Castro Miamians will continue to protest Ozzie Guillen and the Marlins, demanding more capitalist penance be paid for his positive comments about the Cuban ex-leader. To prove their capitalist worth, the team slashes player incomes in half, raises the cost of tickets and in-stadium concessions 50-fold, and threatens to leave Miami for Los Angeles if the city doesn’t build them three more stadiums: one for games, one for practice, and one just to leave fallow as a Potemkin stadium to fool the Dodgers. When players and fans protest, the team locks up the stadium and sets the field on fire, forfeiting the rest of the season.
The Texas Rangers will bring back Nolan Ryan to bolster their bullpen only to have him throw out his elbow on an errant hanging curveball. He undergoes massive Tommy John surgery, moving all of his calf muscles onto his shoulder and will be unable to walk yet still pitches a 1.20 ERA with three no-hitters from a Red Ryder wagon.
The Detroit Tigers will bunt their way to a 50-50 win-loss ratio. The Atlanta Braves will do respectably with a new “tomahawk” overhead batting style. Both the Chicago White Sox and the Cubs will fail their way to the bottom of their respective leagues but in such a dramatic, unique way that it will be considered performance art.
The Pirates, the Astros, the Mariners, and the Brewers will all have the best seasons of their histories as they each play with such determination and vigor that games stretch through the night. Double headers extend for days while fans camp out in the stands. After three days of hitless at-bats and a heavy rain late in the fifth inning, Milwaukee County Stadium will begin to resemble Woodstock as drenched fans make love on the field tarps. Extra inning after extra inning will be added as they play to the peak of their performance, and the score never changes until one team eventually relents and pop-flies out to center field out of either exhaustion or curiosity.
The Arizona Diamondbacks will make it to the National League Championship after being bought out by a mysterious billionaire who immediately replaces the team with synthesized sports droids and moves them to Delaware. Their undefeated season comes to an abrupt end when the droids’ designated hitter crashes his T-Top into a ditch outside Point Pleasant, NJ, after a night of partying with Jose Canseco and Lenny Dykstra.
Because of this, the Diamondbacks will lose the National League Championship to the Dodgers, who eventually realize their destiny and move back to Brooklyn. But destiny won’t be enough for the Dodgers as the World Series pennant easily goes to a renewed, undefeated Baltimore Orioles who win game after game with a solid pitching bullpen that delivers repeated no-hitters and a batting line-up that is so reliably consistent that games devolve into home run derbies. Records will be casually broken on a daily basis such that statisticians give up tracking teams, folding their data charts into rally caps for the Dodgers purely out of sympathy of seeing somebody spanked so thoroughly.