Prediction time. Who's gonna win the 2012 World Series?
Actually, hold that thought. You know who's going to make the playoffs? The Houston Astros. There, I said it. You think I'm nuts? Here's why I'm not quite the dumbest guy in the room ...
The EXACT same thing is going to happen this year that happened last year.
Not Cards over Rangers in the World Series, but rather the preseason third-best National League team -- according to the Las Vegas Oddsmakers will win the '12 series over the preseason fourth-best American League team. Last season every expert had the Red Sox winning the AL East and oddsmakers gave the Diamondbacks the worst NL odds to make the World Series (yeah, worse than the Astros). As we know, the Sox missed the playoffs altogether and the Diamondbacks won the NL West. When history repeats itself this year the Astros, owning to this year's worst preseason odds, will win their division. Boom! That also means that this years' AL favorite misses the playoffs.
Ultimately, the Giants (this year's Cards with preseason No. 3 NL ranking] will beat the Tigers (this year's Rangers with 4th AL ranking) in the WS after defeating the Dodgers (ranked same spot as last year's Brewers) and Royals (the '12 spot Tigers ranked in '11) in the LCS. The Halos, Blue Jays, Phillies and Astros will all make the playoffs but lose their first-round matchups.
Since I'm clearly on a roll, let's talk player awards. In 2011, the best player on the preseason seventh-ranked NL team (Ryan Braun) won the MVP. For 2012, then your National League Most Valuable Player is Ryan Zimmerman (Nats are rated seventh in the National League in '12). Repeating history, the Cubs' Starlin Castro will barely miss the NL Triple Crown (this year's Matt Kemp on the preseason eighth-ranked NL squad) and Kansas City's Bruce Chen will win the AL MVP and Cy Young (this year's Justin Verlander) You can't doubt history, people.
What's this all about? Hope.
Let's say that you're the Blue Jays. You dreamt that you were in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes, you demanded Prince Fielder, you made small trades and finally watched the Yanks, Rays and Red Sox add players. You feel hopeless. Look no further than last year at this time. Experts/oddsmakers listed the Rays and Tigers as the seventh- and eighth-ranked AL teams entering 2011. Guess who that is this season. The Royals and Blue Jays. Yup. If history repeats itself, Toronto and Kansas City will taste postseason glory. No self-respecting expert will pick the Mets to win the National League. Who cares. The Diamondbacks were given less of a chance last season. Believe in your team. And when fishing for experts to pick your team, remember that this time last year SI's Mel Antonen picked the Red Sox, A's, Twins, Angels, Rockies, Reds, Braves and Giants to make the postseason.
Along with hope comes fear. This time last year, the Twins were the fifth overall favorite team to win the World Series. They finished last in the American League. If that repeats, Red Sox will finish this year behind the Orioles. Ouch. Be afraid. Be very afraid ... Or, no matter where in the country you live, become an Astros fan and drink a giant, legally blinding cup of hope.