Take the Dodgers to win it all | VailDaily.com

Take the Dodgers to win it all

One cannot ignore reality

The Dodgers' Cody Bellinger crushes one against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night. Bellinger and the Dodgers are the prohibitive favorites to win the World Series when the baseball season starts on Thursday. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

I cannot begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed the NCAA Tournament this year.

Not growing up a hardcore basketball fan — the Golden State Warriors of the 80s and Cal or Stanford were hard to love – I enjoyed the spectacle of the tourney and the fantastic finishes. But after a year’s absence, wall-to-wall basketball for the last two weekends has just been tremendous.

Wanna make American great — regardless of politics? Show the first two rounds of the NCAA tourney on a loop.

It is that spirit which we welcome a 162-game season of Major League Baseball. Baseball starts in April, heats up after Memorial Day, hits the unofficial halfway mark at the Fourth of July. The trade deadline follows with the ensuing dog days of August with the pennant chase beginning on Labor Day, leading to the crescendo of the playoffs and the World Series.

To the players, the season is a marathon. The fans, it is the rhythm of our lives. Yes, it was cute having a 60-game season and 16-team playoff last year, but that is not a baseball season.

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Were the Dodgers the best team in baseball? Probably. They’ve been the best team for the last five years, but they need to do it over 162 games and the playoffs before they get real rings. (I’m not saying I don’t like their chances. Unfortunately, I do.) It’s just that Clayton Kershaw going into the postseason with just 58 innings pitched doesn’t prove that he could finally pitch in the postseason.

It’s not just Kershaw. No one obviously could come close to a regular, realistic workload in a shortened season. Last year was the equivalent of a six-week NFL season. By the NFL standings after six weeks, the Super Bowl was going to be Seattle (5-0) vs. Pittsburgh (5-0) or Tennessee (5-0). The Tom-pa Bay Bucs beat Kansas City in February.

We’re ready for a full season.

NL West

The Dodgers are the best team in baseball. I hate writing that, but it’s true. Los Angeles should be even better this year with the signing of Trevor Bauer and the return of David Price, who sat out last season because of the threat of COVID.

Breaking down the Dodgers rotation, Kershaw is getting the Opening day start because he’s Clayton Kershaw but he’s the fourth starter in that rotation with Walker Buehler, Bauer and Julio Urias. Price didn’t make the rotation because the Dodgers also have Dustin May in the No. 5 spot. When Kershaw is your fourth-best starter and Price your sixth, you’ve got pitching out the ying-yang and that wins over 162 games and playoffs.

That leaves the tremendous San Diego Padres, with all their marvelous additions to an already loaded team, in second, playing a one-game wild card to advance likely to a best-of-5 divisional series … against the Dodgers in the postseason. Ouch. I’m rooting for the Pads, but short of moving the franchise somewhere else to get into any other of the five divisions, they’re stuck.

Nolan Arenado looks a lot different in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform and his absence is one of many reasons the Rockies are in serious trouble this season. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The Diamondbacks are decent. The Giants and the Rockies are dreadful, and should finish in that order. On behalf of grateful Giants fans everywhere, thank you for trading Nolan Arenado. That guy just beats the heck out of the Giants and we’re happy to see Arendo joining fellow San Francisco-destroyer Paul Goldschmidt in St. Louis.

NL Central

Speaking of which, the NL Central had a power outage in last year’s brief campaign. No one could hit. We’re betting the Cardinals hit with Goldschmidt and Arenado.

Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, Reds, Pirates.

NL East

The Braves are the trendy pick. The Braves even acquired Pablo Sandoval because they like rotund third basemen? I’m not counting Atlanta out, but Washington is going to be back.

The Nats were “defending” their 2019 title and like most reigning champs, everything went wrong. It happens the year after a title. The Nationals are still good and still have pitching. (This is a theme, people.)

By the way, don’t buy the Mets.

Nats, Braves (wild card), Phillies, Mets, Marlins.

AL West

We are back to 162 games. That means the Oakland A’s don’t compete with the Houston Astros for the division title. Hate the Astros all you want for 2017, the cheating scandal and the ugly aftermath. They’re still great.

Astros, A’s (wild card), Rangers, Angels, Mariners.

AL Central

Just like the Mets, the Chicago White Sox are trendy pick. Nope. Minnesota is the favorite until anyone proves otherwise and that’s not happening in 2021.

Twins, Indians, White Sox and flip a coin between the Tigers and Royals.

AL East

For once, this will be an interesting race. The Tampa Bay Rays knocked off the Yankees last season with comparatively diminutive payroll to the Bronx Bombers. But can Tampa’s system of openers, bullpen days and no budget flexibility work over 162 games?

I hope so, but I’m not taking a bet on it.

Yankees, Rays (wild card), Blue Jays, Red Sox and Orioles.

World Series

Dodgers over Yankees in a sweep. I am only doing this to jinx the Dodgers. Happy baseball, everyone.



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