Predicting baseball is a good way to be wrong. It's easy to belabor the point, as I mention it often, but the only way to do strident, cocksure baseball predictions is to a) never admit when you're wrong, and b) never look back.
But it's one thing to be wrong, and it's another to hope you're wrong. I don't think Mark Prior will ever make another start in the majors, but I certainly hope I'm wrong. If you asked me three years ago about Ryan Vogelsong and Bartolo Colon, I would have said the same thing, so you never know. Or, as Joaquin Andujar put it, "youneverknow." Or, as Earl Weaver put it, "The **** you think you know, you **** ****** ***** *****."
Still, the odds are good that Prior never comes back. Hope I'm wrong.
So here are three things I'm desperately hoping I'm wrong about. Baseball would be better if everything here went contrary to expectations. At least, the arguments about baseball would be better.
1. The Twins' pitch-to-contact philosophy
The Twins signed Kevin Correia to a two-year deal in the offseason because one year just isn't enough. It was like buying a second ticket to the Green Jelly show in case the show sells out and you lose the first ticket. So much has to happen for it to make sense, and even then, it will never make sense. The Twins don't care if Correia can't strike hitters out. The Twins don't care if anyone can strike hitters out. Their list of signings over the last two seasons reads like a pitch-to-contact manifesto.
And, oh, man, would it be awesome if they were right.
Imagine the progression. The Twins pitch well through April. There would be a couple of articles examining the phenomenon, with a caveat of "Don't expect it to continue." The Twins pitch well through May. Okay, a little weirder. More articles.
This would continue well into next winter. If the Orioles could dance with the one-run pixies for an entire year, the entire Twins' staff could get lucky for a single season. Your 2014 Twins preview would have to include the words "luck" or "lucky", or else black helicopters would start flying over your house.
Then imagine if it kept going. At some point, everyone would have one of those Jose Bautista revelations. Like, whoa, this is really happening and we need to get used to it. Then the explanations would come -- scholarly research about why the Twins were ahead of the curve.
It would be glorious. Even better would be if the same pitchers went completely to hell in 2015. The Twins have a great chance to troll the baseball world. They probably won't, but ...
2. The fate of the 2013 Royals
The odds are good that, regardless of who started in the Royals' outfield, James Shields was always going to be more valuable than Wil Myers in 2013. Hate the trade for the philosophy behind it. Hate the trade because you think it's short-sighted. But at least acknowledge there's a chance the Royals got a little better in the short term.
But the Royals still aren't playoffs-bound.
Unless I'm wrong, which I'd like to be. And unless you're wrong, because you didn't pick the Royals to win either. While this category falls under the category of sad-sack-team-finally-getting-a-patch-of-sun, the Royals are the pick over the Astros or Marlins because they made an insanely risky, go-for-it trade. You know what are awesome? Insanely risky, go-for-it trades. They're a Christmas tree shoved right into the burning hot stove. Embers are flying everywhere, the curtains are on fire. And it's exactly the kind of thing we need in the middle of a long off-season.
Then you add in the long playoff drought -- 28 seasons without a playoff berth, and just one winning season since the strike -- and it's an easy choice. The Royals are probably not going to be that good this year. But …
3. Michael Young's National League Extravaganza
At this writing, Michael Young is 2-for-2 on Wednesday, with a double, RBI, walk, and run scored. He's hitting .387/.472/.613 -- Frank Thomas's peak, essentially. Usually you should believe everything that happens in the first week of the season, but I'm not so sure about this one.
Michael Young is like the Jack Morris of baseball. That is, he's a walking divide, a generational gap that has nothing to do with age. When whispers came out about Young's desire for 3,000 hits and a possible Hall of Fame bid, there were chuckles from stat lovers. Except … he'll get votes. A lot of them. He makes writers say things like this:
"The problem with WAR and with any of the absolute statistical analyses, is that they don’t paint the complete picture of a player as a player-slash-person," Grant said. "You can’t measure leadership, you can’t measure team involvement, and because you can’t put a number on it, the statistical analysis based community doesn’t value it. Well, that’s just malarkey."
And based on last year's dismal performance, it looked like the blognoscenti wouldn't have Michael Young to kick around anymore. But if he's good this year, he might be 600 hits short of 3,000. Why, that's just 150 a year until he's 40. Ichiro did that kind of pace in his down years.
The annual Morris debate will be dead. Long live the annual Morris debate, reincarnated in Michael Young. You don't watch this stuff so you can be right. You watch it so you can convince other people that you're right. And if Young is good again, everyone gets to play that game. The only way you can fight through the noise is to talk louder and use ALL CAPS. It's like A. Bartlett Giamatti said: "Some men just want to watch the world burn."
Don't go away just yet, Michael Young. The Internet has uses for you.