By Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow
The Baseball Fan observes with great devotion the days of the Baseball Season, and it became the custom to prepare for Opening Day by a season of reflection and prediction. This season provided a time for converts and seasoned Fans alike to share with each other their allegiances and analyses so that conversations, whether appointed or joyously unexpected, could begin with mutual understanding and awareness.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Game we love, to the observance of a truly great Season by self-examination and objectivity; by reflection, contemplation, and self-awareness; by differentiation from past rivalries and present and obligatory pay-backs; and by reading and studying The Sporting News' Baseball Annual, the sports pages, baseball blogs, and websites, and, perhaps, conversing (at arm's length) with baseball handicappers of renown (one of whom in The Great Gatsby sports cuff-links made of human molars).
Those of you whose predictions achieve a high congruence with the Season's outcomes may fully expect an appropriate acknowledgment after the last pitched ball. To be considered for this prize, I shall need to have your predictions by Midnight of Tuesday, March 27, the day before (actually, six hours and ten minutes before), the first pitched ball of the 2012 Season in Tokyo, when the (Ancient) Mariners of Seattle visit the (White) Elephants of Oakland. Opening Day in America will be April 4 when the Champion Cardinals open the Miami Marlins' new ballpark.
Your predictions this year should include two Wild Card picks per league. A new playoff format, as I understand it, calls for a one-game playoff between wild card winners in what amounts to a play-in game for each league. Whether this format will begin this Season or next is unknown at the moment. A final decision is required by the Collective Bargaining Agreement by March 1. I do not know if two Wild Cards can come from the same division. MLB press releases have not addressed the new format. If the new format is delayed, Wild Card 1 (not 2) will stand as your Wild Card pick. For the purposes of tallying results, predicting correct playoff spots (Wild Cards or Division Champions) garner 3 points, League Champions 5 points, and World's Champion 10 points.
And, to make a right beginning to the Season, let us now kneel in silence to determine the results of our studies and our hopes for the Teams, and to set forth those results below:
2012 Baseball Season Predictions
Winners of Divisions and Wild Cards, League Champions, and World's Champion
AL Wild Card 1:
AL Wild Card 2:
NL Wild Card 1:
NL Wild Card 2: