I'm starting to think about who my National League team is going to be this year.
Last year, as you may remember, I rooted for the Brewers. Milwaukee had an exciting young team, with players like Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, J.J. Hardy, Ben Sheets and Francisco Cordero. They ended up competing for the Central division title for the first time in years, falling just short and finishing two games behind the Cubs. I also liked the fact that thousands of Brewers fans vowed to pee in their pants
if the team made the playoffs.
The Brew Crew was never intended to be a permanent thing with me, however, so I need to pick a new NL team for 2008. There are 15 other teams to choose from, so lets see if I can narrow it down a bit.
In the East, the Mets are definitely out. It's just that whole New York thing. Although I'm a fan of Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, I can't see myself getting attached to the Phillies either. The Braves are a possibility, and I like the fact that they brought back Glavine to go with Smoltz and Tim Hudson to create a nice front end of the rotation. The Marlins are out, since I don't feel like watching games from a 75% empty stadium night after night. And the Nationals don't have enough appealing players to hold my interest.
The Cubs are always a possibility in the Central, since they have that whole pre-2004 Red Sox curse thing going. Rooting for the Cubbies in the 100th anniversary of their last World Series title might be fun. The Cardinals make the cut just on the strength of having Albert Pujols on the team. The Reds have a lot of interesting young players, old favorite Bronson Arroyo, Junior and one of my favorite ballpark names going for them, but I'm not much of a Dusty Baker fan. Cincinnati is on the bubble. The Astros don't hold a lot of interest for me, and the pitching is a crapshoot after Roy Oswalt. It's a shame the Pirates don't have a better team to put in their amazing ballpark.
Finally, the West. Rooting for the NL Champions makes me feel like too much of a front-runner, so that eliminates the Rockies. Arizona has a good team, very good pitching and a ballpark with a pool, so they are a possibility. I have always had a lot of respect for Joe Torre, and the prospect of actually rooting for the guy after so many years is intriguing, so that makes the Dodgers a contender. San Diego could be fun to watch, too. I'm a big Jake Peavy fan and J. and I took a liking to their third baseman, Kevin Kouzmanoff last year. Forget the Giants; it would be a huge upset for them to finish out of the cellar in '08, and Barry's not even around to make things interesting.
So that narrows it down to Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Arizona, Los Angeles and San Diego. I'll make a pick from one of those six by Opening Day.