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2000 Predictions

      With apologies to Conan O'Brien, here are a few things that are really bound to happen, in the year 2000:
       The Atlanta Braves will miss the post season. America will celebrate...
       John Rocker will save 35 games, but continue to be absolutely clueless...
       Jane Fonda will get to see a playoff game in person anyway, in Los Angeles...
       Mike Piazza will make an appearance at first base. He'll also be a top-five finisher in the NL MVP race...
       Andy Ashby will spend time on the DL, and then come back too soon. Curt Schilling will also rush back, and will pitch in over 200 innings and strike out over 200 guys for the last time in his career. Good for him...
       The National League East will finish this way: Mets, Braves, Phils, Expos, Marlins...
       Ken Griffey will get his numbers, but the Reds will not duplicate last season's 96 wins. 86 would be a stretch. 76? Maybe...
       We'll see "Mark McGwire lite" this year. He'll plummet to 50 homers, 120 RBIs, and about .275. With the Cards in contention all year, he will finally win an MVP award...
       Kerry Wood will come back too soon...
       Houston will win another division. Ken Caminiti will miss substantial action, but will lead the team in the Divisional Series. Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio will improve in the post season, combining to hit almost .200. The Astros will benefit, and win a game...
       Pete Rose will not go away any time soon. Like Belushi in that old Saturday Night Live skit, six-pack and potato chips at the ready, old Charlie Hustle will make himself at home during the spring, stick around for summer, be in the vicinity of the All-Star Game, and be in our face during Hall of Fame weekend...
       He'll autograph jock straps or some such thing at a booth off Main Street in Cooperstown, and we'll hear about for him for weeks afterwards. Just when you think it's safe to go back in the water, he'll surface in time for the World Series. If the Reds get there, look out...
       Bud Selig will spend the entire summer talking about a "wonderful renaissance" going on in baseball. He'll take credit for it. He'll be wrong...
       NL Central: Astros, Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Pirates, Brewers...
       It'll be close, but "Five-Tool Player" will be the most overused cliche in sports...
       These gems will be right there: "good to go," "we all have to be on the same page," "anything can happen in a short series," "from the get-go," and "intestinal fortitude," my personal favorite...
       Literally hundreds of players, play-by-play guys, and color men will refer to a just completed game as "tonight," even though it was a day game...
       ESPN and Fox guys will continue to mispronounce the name of one of baseballís greatest players, Honus Wagner. Pay attention class, hear me now, once and for all. Itís HA-nus Wagner. Honus freaking Wagner! Rhymes with On-us, not Own-us...
       Keith Olbermann will be among the Honus hackers, but will be the only national anchor to consistently and correctly use the singular term, "RBI," instead of the plural...
       BaseballSavvy.com will consistently and incorrectly use the term "RBIs," just because...
       Rockies G.M. Dan O'Dowd will drop out of the Executive of the Year discussion by the break, when it's realized that none of his so called "revamping" makes a difference in Colorado. Until Major League Baseball allows the team to play with a 30 man, 17 pitcher roster, they will continue to lose, even in the NL West, forever and always...
       Even with that pitching staff, and with key losses to the disabled list, Dusty Baker will have the Giants around .500 all year. Bill Mueller will be a top ten hitter...
       Kevin Malone will sign an unemployed ex-Expo or ex-Oriole...
       Orel Hershiser will win more games than Ismael Valdes...
       NL West: Diamondbacks, Dodgers (wild card), Giants, Padres, Rockies...
       No designated hitters will win Gold Gloves this year, but at least one award winner will lead his position in errors...
       The "who is the best shortstop" debate will continue unanswered. Derek Jeter will hit for the highest average, appear in the most regular and post season games, score the most runs, and play the best defense...
       Nomar and Arod will compete for power numbers. Garciaparra will injure a knee or an elbow, at least enough to scare people, but will be ok...
       Jeter will continue to be the best of the three, and not be so recognized...
       Meanwhile, Barry Larkin will revert to form, disappoint rotisserie managers, and miss 50 games, easy...
       Jim Leyritz will knock yet another former teammate who is ten times the player he is. First Tony Gwynn, then Jim Edmonds. Of course, when you have as many former teammates as Jim Leyritz...
       Pedro and Ramon Martinez will win 30 games between them. The split will be closer than you think. Fred Claire and Kevin Malone will take responsibility...
       AL East: Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Orioles, Devil Rays...
       Kenny Lofton will come back too soon from rotator cuff work, but it won't matter because he had no arm to begin with...
       Roberto Alomar will get a break from his spitting incident reminderers, and finally win an MVP Award. Thank you John Rocker...
       John Hart will come dangerously close to a deal for an ace in July, not make one, and then sign an old guy in time for Christmas...
       Frank Thomas' numbers: .300, 30, 100...
       Randy Smith will trade for a Padre, guaranteed...
       AL Central: Indians (duh), White Sox (wild card), Royals, Tigers, Twins...
       Pat Gillick will pull an outfielder out a hat, tinker with his roster throughout, and have the Mariners in or near first place at the trading deadline...
       In a public relations bonanza (or coup, take your pick), Alex Rodriguez will proclaim Seattle Earth's greatest city, break his preseason pledge, and sign a contract in August. Let's leave the price tag out of it, shall we...
       Mo Vaughn will be traded to Boston...
       Disney will sell to a dot.com...
       Billy Beane will be creative, spend more money than expected, and the A's will contend again. If a tree fell in Oakland-Alameda...
       AL West: Mariners, A's, Rangers, Angels.

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