Hey…HEY YOU!  Have you already been worn down by the Sabres’ death spiral of a season?  Are you ready to punch Todd McShay on first sight still 2 months out from the NFL draft?  OF COURSE YOU ARE!  Well, I have good news for you. 

Major League Baseball is into its 1st week of Spring Training, and the World Baseball Classic is rapidly approaching.  Not only does this mean Springtime is almost here, but also it’s a happy reminder that there is not a 3rd Buffalo major league franchise to crush our soul (Joe asked me to do a baseball article.  Blame him. – J.G.) American League predictions for 2013 season!

THE AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

1) Tampa Bay Rays – Certain things you can take to the bank.  These would include the Rays 1) being supported terribly by the locals, 2) having to lose a player or two every off-season, and 3) Joe Maddon will have them near the top of the division anyway.  And oh yeah, they have David Price and Evan Longoria.  GET OFF YOUR ASSES, TAMPA AND GO WATCH THIS TEAM PLAY!

2) Toronto Blue Jays – Lots of hope last year, and by August the rotation was in ruins, Jose Bautista was done for the year, and the manager was hoping to get the Red Sox gig.  Now the  starting rotation has been fortified, Bautista appears healthy, and they pretty much traded the skipper to Boston to get him the hell out of town.  Fun fact:  All 4 other teams in the division have made the playoffs 3 times since the Jays last played in the postseason.  That was 1993.  It’s time.

3) New York Yankees – 7 World Series appearances and 5 titles in the last 17 years.  And the payback for all that success is having to live with that A-Rod contract.  Never count them out – they are the Yankees – but the window is rapidly closing.

4) Boston Red Sox – That wasn’t a dream, or a nightmare, or even an episode of “South Park”.  Bobby Valentine very much was the manager of the Red Sox last season.  The only person alive who can’t believe that didn’t work out for Boston, is Bobby Valentine.  They’ve been leapfrogged in the division, but at least shouldn’t be the tire fire they were last season.

5) Baltimore Orioles – When the phrase “regression to the mean” was first uttered, this franchise is what they were talking about.  16-2 in extra-inning games.  75-1 in games when leading entering the 9th.  29-9 in 1-run games.  All that’s not keeping up for a whole other year.

THE AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

1) Detroit Tigers – All those close calls with the Pirates.  Two trips with the Tigers.  So naturally Jim Leyland’s only title came in his one season with the Marlins.  This team is remains stacked, and the defending A.L. champs should still be the class of this division.

2) Kansas City Royals – BECAUSE WHY THE HELL NOT, DAMNIT?!?!?  I mean, aside from two decades of irrelevance, bad trades, and bad management?  Well, it is the A.L. Central, and everybody is going to kick the living crap out of the Astros this year.  And they may have juuuust enough pitching to get them past the White Sox.

3) Chicago White Sox – I dunno what else to do but shrug my shoulders about the White Sox.  I’d have no feelings either way on them , really.  Then I remember Alex Rios is on the White Sox, and he was a stiff for the Jays.  Meh.

4) Cleveland Indians – Honestly, good for Terry Francona.  I’m no Red Sox fan, but I’m a big Francona guy.  He was the right manager at the right time to navigate that circus in Boston.  Now, he’s back in a job he seems to genuinely happy to have in Cleveland.  Really, throw the Indians, Royals, and Sox in a hat and put them in any order you want.

5) Minnesota Twins – So let’s see. After years of terribleness, the Twins had been enjoying a renaissance of sorts.  But the old stadium sucked.  They couldn’t keep their good players.  So they get the taxpayers to fork up for a sparkling, open-air ballpark.  They sign Morneau & Mauer long-term.  And the team turns to crap.  Not how the script was supposed to go for the Twinkies.  A ways away from serious contention.

THE AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

1) Los Angeles Angels – After a period of unchallenged reign over the A.L. West, the Halos fell behind the Texas Rangers the last couple of years.  The answer?  Sign two of the Rangers biggest cogs – C.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton – in free agency in consecutive offseasons.  Hamilton adjusting to his new digs in the spotlight of SoCal will be an ongoing topic of discussion all year.  But they also have those guys Pujols and Trout, too.  L.A. makes it back to the playoffs this year.

2) Texas Rangers – Has the window already closed for these guys??  The way last season ended – imploding in Oakland, followed by the no-show against Baltimore.  Losing the aforementioned Wilson and Hamilton in back-to-back offseasons.  They won’t fall off the map, but don’t have enough to hang with the Angels.

3) Oakland Athletics – Well, that was a hell of a run last year to catch Texas at the end and win the division.  Still, that is a ton of youth.  They aren’t going to go away, but may just simply be outclassed this time around.

4) Seattle Mariners – The good news is that the Mariners will not finish in last place again this year.  The bad news is that that has everything to do with the Houston Astros now playing in the A.L. West, and not with anything that Seattle may have done to improve this winter.  The good news is they got Felix Hernandez to re-sign.  Otherwise, another long year in the Pacific Northwest.

5) Houston Astros – After 51 years in the National League, the ‘Stros switch over to the Junior Circuit.  And they do so with a $25 million dollar payroll.  Let’s put this into context.  Tyler Myers, alone, will make half of what the entire projected Astros’ 25 man roster will make this season.  Say hello to a 3rd straight 100-loss season.  Worst team in the majors going away.

Playoff teams:  Rays, Blue Jays, Tigers, Angels

Pennant Winner:  Angels

COMING SOON!! A COMPLETELY UNINFORMED, TOTALLY UNSOLICITED SET OF PREDICTIONS FOR THE NATIONAL LEAGUE!!!