Magic and joy! A new baseball season is upon us after a gruesome winter of discontent. Assuming the players don't strike (which isn't guaranteed, but isn't likely either), we can count on seven uninterrupted months of this great sport -- and then shut up our eyes and ears when the used car salesman (Bud Selig) starts stuttering through incoherent and inarticulate gloomy forecasts on the economics of the game (which Forbes Magazine, to the great displeasure of the Lords of Baseball claims is actually making money, in stark contrast to Bud's claims of $517 million in losses) next fall. And a great thing about this upcoming season is that, for all Bud's talk about how the "system needs to be fixed" and "the game needs parity", fully two thirds of the teams go into the season this year with a legitimate shot at the playoffs (proving that what Bud really means when he talks about "parity" is to find a way to rig the system so that his sorry Brewers can win without the need for effective management or investment in the product). See there I go talking about that crap again when all I mean to talk about is how excited I am about actual games, and about going home and popping open a beer tonight and tuning in to live baseeball -- so, without further ado, my predictions for the 2002 season.

National League East:
1. Atlanta Braves
2. Florida Marlins
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. New York Mets
5. Montreal Expos

National League Central:
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Houston Astros [Wild Card]
3. Chicago Cubs
4. Cincinatti Reds
5. Pittsburgh Pirates
6. Milwaukee Brewers

National League West:
1. San Francisco Giants
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
3. San Diego Padres
4. Colorado Rockies
5. Los Angeles Dodgers

American League East:
1. New York Yankees
2. Boston Red Sox
3. Toronto Blue Jays
4. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
5. Baltimore Orioles

American League Central:
1. Chicago White Sox
2. Cleveland Indians
3. Minnesota Twins
4. Detroit Tigers
5. Kansas City Royals

American League West:
1. Seattle Mariners
2. Oakland A's [Wild Card]
3. Texas Rangers
4. Anaheim Angels

Playoffs Round 1:
Astros over Braves
Cardinals over Giants
A's over Yankees
Mariners over White Sox

Playoffs Round 2:
Cardinals over Astros
A's over Mariners

World Series:
Cardinals over A's

NL Most Valuable Player: Gary Sheffield, Braves
AL Most Valuable Player: Magglio Ordonez, White Sox
NL Cy Young: Kerry Wood, Cubs
AL Cy Young: Freddy Garcia, Mariners
NL Rookie of the Year: Sean Burroughs, Padres
AL Rookie of the Year: Hank Blalock, Rangers