Predictions for the Detroit Tigers and MLB

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(Photo courtesy of Robert Beck/SI)

IT’S FINALLY HERE! 

It seems like it has been years since we saw Miguel Cabrera hobbling around, Prince Fielder failing miserably at the plate and the Tigers bullpen serving up the AL Championship to the Boston Red Sox.

But luckily, that is all behind the us and its time to get excited for the 2014 season! 

I am not a big fan of predictions, but they are always fun to do right before a season begins so you can look back months later and see just how dumb you really are. 

Anyway, here are my predictions for the Tigers and the rest of Major League Baseball for 2014 …

Detroit Tigers record: 91-71

Biggest Surprise: Drew Smyly

Biggest Disappointment: Al Alburquerque 

Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown Chase: .327 / 36 HR / 127 RBI — doesn’t win Triple Crown (Mike Trout has higher batting average)

Division and Wild Card Winners

American League

AL East: Tampa Bay Rays

AL Central: Detroit Tigers

AL West: Los Angeles Angels 

AL Wild Card: Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals

National League

NL East: Washington Nationals

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers 

NL Wild Card: Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds

Playoffs

ALCS: Detroit over Tampa Bay 

NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers over Washington 

World Series

Dodgers over Tigers 

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Conference tournaments and trolls!

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(Photo courtesy of Mike Mullholland / MLive)

Is anybody else dreading tomorrow’s Big Ten tournament championship game?

There is no doubt that the actual game tomorrow should be a terrific heavyweight matchup between the team that everybody thought would run away with the Big Ten regular season title (MSU) and the team that actually ran away with the Big Ten regular season title (Michigan).

Don’t worry, it’s not the actual game that will be dreadful. It will be the constant social media trash thrown around by ridiculous fans of both schools.

Want to see me be a modern day Nostradamus? I’ll tell you right now exactly what we will see from certain fans after tomorrow’s game …

If Michigan wins — “WE OWN THE STATE! MSU CAN’T BEAT US EVEN WHEN THEY ARE HEALTHY! MICHIGAN IS THE SUPERIOR PROGRAM!”

If Michigan State wins — “WE TOLD YOU WHEN WE ARE HEALTHY WE ARE THE BETTER TEAM! YOUR FIRST TWO WINS WERE A FLUKE! ENJOY WATCHING US WIN THE NATIONAL TITLE!”

Won’t that be fun tomorrow? No, no it won’t.

Who won last year’s Big Ten tournament championship? I don’t remember. Why? Because it doesn’t matter.

Last time I checked, there are only three banners that can be raised by a college basketball team — regular season conference championship, Final Four appearance and a National Championship.

Other than having bragging rights for three or four days — depending on when the NCAA tournament starts for both schools — what positive outcome can come from tomorrow?

The conference tournaments are a big money maker for the NCAA and they are a fun getaway for the students of the schools involved, especially if they are on Spring Break.

But, in my opinion, all it does for the athletes on the court is give them extra opportunity to get injured before the only tournament that matters.

How happy do you think VCU and their fans are tonight after losing starting guard Melvin Johnson to an injury in the A-10 semifinal? There appears to be a good chance that Johnson will also not be able to play in the NCAA tournament. Is winning the A-10 tournament really worth that for VCU? Is winning a season-ending conference tournament worth a major injury for any school?

Injuries and trolls. The only things that conference tournaments are good for.

So Michigan and Michigan State fans, if your team comes up victorious tomorrow, please save yourself the embarrassment of thinking the win means anything in the grand scheme of things.

Stop the spring training nonsense!

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(Photo courtesy of Associated Press)

Don’t let the snow and blistery cold weather fool you, the baseball season is right around the corner. And while spring training is exciting and it is nice to hear Dan Dickerson and, sigh, Jim Price – and his irrational love for things to be racky-tacked – back on the radio, can we please stop the nonsensical overreactions to spring training results?

Trust me, I understand the importance of spring training. First, it provides players the opportunity to get into game shape and get comfortable before the real games begin. It also allows relatively unknown players the shot to win a bench role and be a pleasant surprise during the season (please see Matt Tuiasosopo in the 2013 season).

Beyond that, please, spare me the details.

Anybody with half-a-brain understands that the Detroit Tigers lineup will be quite different from last year’s lineup. But do we really need a daily update of how many home runs the Tigers have hit this spring? We get it — the lineup will likely hit less home runs this season, but steal more bases and run the bases better.

In case you were wondering, the Tigers had only hit three home runs entering today’s game. They added three more to that total today.

Another issue with spring training is using a box score to determine the effectiveness of a pitcher. Let’s ignore the fact that most pitchers, especially starters, use the beginning portions of spring training to work out kinks in their delivery and determine a pitches effectiveness. But for relievers, they are usually facing minor league talent, especially late in spring training games.

A great example of that is Al Alburquerque this spring, who has recently been praised by the baseball media for his performance. When you look at his numbers, they appear outstanding (4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB and 6 K).

My biggest concern with Alburquerque in the past was that he couldn’t consistently locate his fastball and walked too many batters. Well, three walks in four innings doesn’t ease my mind of that issue.

But even with that frustration, I’ll wait until Alburquerque struggles in April and May before losing my mind and wondering why Dave Dombrowski didn’t focus more on the bullpen in the off-season.

Folks, I get it, baseball season is close and we have been waiting for Opening Day since the Tigers painfully lost Game 6 of the ALCS in Boston (DAMN YOU, JOSE VERAS, FOR THROWING VICTORINO ANOTHER CURVEBALL). But please, do us all a favor, and stop concerning yourself with spring training results. They don’t matter … well, except for Phil Coke. He’s terrible year-round.