Those words will make even the oldest of baseball fans giddy with excitement. For whatever reason, game number one out of 162 is inspiring. Each team throws a big party at their first home game and believes whole-heartedly that this could be their year.
While fans are busy being excited about their teams, experts are busy turning in their predictions. This year is no different.
The trendy pick this season is to put the Phillies, with re-acquired starting pitcher Cliff Lee, Cy Young winner Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, in the World Series against the new-and-improved Boston Red Sox, who acquired San Diego slugger Adrian Gonzalez and Tampa's speedster Carl Crawford.
Some sportswriters play it safe and pick the two trendy teams that made the most offseason noise, and others go out on a limb, hoping to be correct so that they can have bragging rights.
In 2010, many writers were picking the Colorado Rockies to not only win the National League West, but to win the World Series.
The fact is, if sportswriters were as credible as many of them would like to believe, Todd Helton would have been traded long before he ever wore purple pinstripes for the latest trendy pitcher on the trading block at the trade deadline.
Frankly, some sportswriters are simply lazy, and instead of doing research and homework, they just go with the buzz.
Expert predictions hold absolutely no water. They don't affect the way a team plays, a manager manages, or a front office operates. However, many fans cling to these predictions, getting overly upset or happy when their teams name gets printed, or left off of the list.
The fact is, these predictions mean nothing. In fact, many of the experts probably dislike giving their predictions before the first pitch of the season because they know that in six months and 162 baseball games, the only thing certain is that every team will change.
Players will get injured, underperform, overperform, disappoint and excite on each and every team. Predicting who comes out on top before day one is equal to asking a five year-old what they plan on doing as a career and expecting them to stick to that plan.
When experts pick the Phillies, they think of their lineup in a tiny park. They forget that Jayson Werth is in Washington and Chase Utley is injured. They also forget that this is not a team full of spring chickens. Jimmy Rollins continues his downhill slide, and asking Ryan Howard to produce the same numbers he did three years ago is asking too much. This team is good, but expecting them to run away with the National League, even with their phenomenal pitching, is expecting too much.
The Rockies made many lists as the National League West champion. Many believe that the Giants will regress due to their pitching staff being overworked in 2010 and their mediocre offense coming back to earth.
However, all of these predictions are assuming that the San Francisco staff will collectively hit a wall and that the Rockies will be able to maintain their health, something that the club couldn't do for even a month in 2010.
Predictions are fun at the beginning of the season. They give fans a reason to hope and cheer. If a fan sees their teams name on a prediction for the wild card, division or World Series, their belief is enforced that there may be reason to cheer this summer. They should be fun.
However, when the experts somehow predicted two teams that finish under .500 to play each other in the World Series, don't be surprised.
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