When I think about what predictions I would make for the season, my first thought is to say that I just don't know what will happen. How can I say anything when I am nearly certain to be wrong?
Joe Morgan used to refuse to make predictions in his chats, and the authors of Fire Joe Morgan would take him to task for this dereliction of duty. Making predictions was supposed to be a part of his job, I suppose. I always felt just a little sympathy for Little Joe, because saying you don't know what will happen really is the most accurate answer. Even if it's also an annoying answer, and perfectly obvious. We love predictions even though we know they are wrong. So make them already!
Sometimes we go back and check predictions but this is never a serious exercise with consequences for being wrong. Usually predictions are just forgotten, especially the ones that turn out wrong. The appeal of predictions is that they capture the feeling of the present moment. I predict that the Dodgers will make the playoffs. This is less a statement about a future state of the Dodgers and more a statement about how I perceive the team now, how I feel about the team now. When I watch the opening day game this afternoon I will be watching a good team play a terrible team. Though perhaps the Padres aren't terrible with Peavy on the mound. But after today ...
Predictions let us pick out the favorites from the underdogs. Predictions fill the void of all the 0-0 records at the beginning of the season. Any game I watch it helps me to know what kind of game it is --- David v. Goliath, or Clash of the Titans, or Battle of the Bottomfeeders. When the Cubs take the field today they take the field as a team already in first place, even though they are tied with everyone else at 0-0. This is a good team --- according to most predictions. I don't think so, though. No, thinking has little to do with this. I don't feel so. It's the feeling of powerful memory, mostly. Memory of the hapless Cubs from the playoffs last year. I was there when they fell to the broom last year. It's that memory, and also Fukudome, who I don't think even played in the game I was at. He was terrible last year, and why would that change? And Soriano, who is like milk about to turn sour. When the speed begins to go, and the strikeout start coming a little more often, suddenly you have an 0.300 OBP hole at the top of your lineup.
Do the Dodgers have players who could suddenly turn sour on them? The Dodgers are young, mostly, so it's not a huge worry. But there's always Manny. I worry about his health, a little, but a lot of other people worry about his head. I think this is nonsense. What argument is there that Manny is going to be a problem? It happened before, yes. But there still needs to be a reason for it to happen again. I don't see that reason out there. Some say he'll be upset with his contract soon enough. But Manny controls his current contract, and his next one. There's nothing for him to get out of, no club-option years weighing him down. He's in the best city on earth for his personality. Manny's head will be fine. That's my third prediction. And last. It's time to play ball.