Opening Day was Monday and the MLB is underway. The Mike’d UP guys offer their predictions for the 2014 season.
Kelley: National League: The New York Daily News recently ran this headline: “Dodgers should win NL West, and with $233 million payroll, they better”
To just win the NL West would be supremely disappointing for Dodgers’ fans. It’s World Series or bust. There is simply too much talent to go to waste. Their roster is loaded from top to bottom. Pitching wins championships, and the Dodgers are unquestionably set to advance deep into October.
Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu will soon be joined by Cy Young award winner, Clayton Kershaw when he returns from a back injury. Matt Kemp will return to join Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez in an explosive lineup.
American League: The Red Sox will win the American League and return to the World Series. Too much core talent in David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester to deny the Boston Beards. The loss of Jacoby Ellsbury hurts no doubt, but the Red Sox’ boast similar pitching strengths to that of the Dodgers in Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Clay Buchholz.
World Series champs: Los Angeles Dodgers
Kowaleski: National League: I’ve picked the Braves the last two years, to no avail. They’ve come closer and closer each year, but I don’t think I can go through that process again. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, and fool me three times, I’m a brain-dead idiot.
And as much as I love my man Yasiel Puig, the most exciting man in baseball, and the L.A. “We spend more than the Yankees” Dodgers, the Washington Nationals are poised for a championship. They were a top-five team in baseball down the stretch last year, and they don’t have any holes. Bryce Harper should be an MVP candidate and if Stephen Strasburg stays healthy, they have a stellar rotation.
Who am I kidding…I love you, Bravos. I choose Atlanta!
American League: Guess what?? I’m going with Lafayette (quasi) alumnus and “most fun manager in baseball,” Joe Maddon and the Rays! Look, I even put an exclamation point in, because I’m that excited!
The AL East is going to be a slaughterhouse this year. Every team could put up 80+ wins this season. But the Rays have the best pitching in the division, and I’ll give them the edge until one of their hurlers goes down. The Tigers will be tough, but they lost a bat in Prince Fielder and I’ll take David Price and the Rays over the rest of the AL—although the A’s will still be as endearingly annoying as ever.
World Series champ: Tampa Bay Rays.
The stunning release of DeSean Jackson from the Eagles sent shockwaves throughout the National Football League.
Kelley: The controversial yet wildly talented wide receiver has found his new home in the nation’s capital. He carries baggage yet his talent and playmaking abilities are undeniable and that is why Washington made him priority number one.
The Redskins had to have watched just minutes of highlight reels in which Jackson sliced through defenders, turned the ordinary five yard slant into 65 additional yards, or raced off untouched towards the endzone to start a near 30-yard celebration.
NJ.com reports surfaced suggesting Jackson was affiliated with a California gang, accusations that Jackson himself has vehemently denied. I believe Jackson – the evidence when examined in whole is shaky at best. But believe it or not, the name ‘Aaron Hernandez’ must have immediately popped into the minds of staffs league wide. Anytime gang affiliation rumors surface with any player in the league, it’s just too hard not to think of the vicious and vile acts that Hernandez allegedly committed.
But football wise, the Redskins landed a total stud and an absolute playmaker that immediately elevates their offense into top-of-the-league contention.
Kowaleski: This was a money move, plain and simple. The “gang ties” discussion is absolutely ludicrous and banal (and sort of racist) and I don’t think is the main factor when deciding to let Jackson go. As many have pointed out, it’s likely they’ve known about his social life for years.
As usual, it comes down to fiscal decision-making. Jackson was simply going to be making more than he’s worth. He was entering the third year of a five-year, $48.5 million deal that was back-loaded, and cutting him saved Philadelphia $6.8 million this year and $22.5 million combined over the next two years.
Whether he makes the Washington Snydskins better is unquestionable: RGIII has few excuses left with his receiving corps. Jackson’s been uneven and hard to motivate at times, and Washington isn’t quite there in terms of contending in a strong NFC, but at least we’re assured that Tom Coughlin will continue to have nightmares for the next three years or so. Miracle in the Meadowlands 3, anyone?
The Mike’d UP guys quickly give their predictions for the Final Four.
Kelley: It will be an SEC showdown in the National Championship on Monday night and the Kentucky Wildcats will cut down the nets in Arlington. I absolutely love the confidence of this young and ruthless Wildcats team and their current momentum will carry them to everlasting glory.
Kowaleski: Florida was my bracket champ, and I’m sticking with them. I think that it’ll come down to the Wildcats and the Gators, and if it’s anything like the SEC Championship, it’ll be a hell of a game. Kentucky might be more talented, but the Gators have played better, longer, and I’m taking them in a one-game playoff.