By Aaron Gordon and Matthew Kory
As all those 2012 doomsayers exhibited, humans aren't very good at predicting outcomes.
Perhaps this is because our species doesn't have any kind of ability to peer into the future (except Ian Kinsler; more on that later), or maybe it's because each of us looks into our own individual universes per the theory of multiple universes and therefore we all see different but equally legitimate realities splitting into billions of universes.
Either way, preseason predictions are stupid. Except for ours, because we have a Magic-8 Ball.
With our Magic-8 Ball, we are about to take the fun out of the 2014 MLB season by correctly answering five questions other people couldn't. We're right, so no need to waste your time watching the season.
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Dan Shaughnessy asks if Grady Sizemore will contribute to the 2014 Red Sox. Will he, Magic-8 Ball?
Matthew Kory's 8-Ball Says: Without A Doubt
Of course Grady Sizemore can contribute. He's Grady Sizemore. He's a career .269/.357/.473 hitter with 139 homers and 134 stolen bases. He actually has all those bases. They're in his basement or something. You don't get that many bases in your basement without skills and those skills don't disappear overnight. They might dissipate over two years and seven surgeries, but even though they start with D, disappear and dissipate are different words. Oh sure, they both have nine letters and four vowels, but the similarities end there!
Maybe more to the point, Sizemore is 31 years old this season. He's still in the prime of his career. He is two months older than Robinson Cano, and according to my calculations, he'll be two months older than Robinson Cano for the rest of his life. This is relevant because just this offseason Cano signed a 10-year contract. Sizemore isn't Cano (their names don't even start with the same letter!), but before his injuries, like Cano, he was a power-hitting above-average defensive player at an up-the-middle position.
With a season off to recuperate and get his body right, there's no reason to think he can't step in and contribute. But, what is "contribute?" It's a 10-letter word that starts with C. More importantly, "contribute" doesn't mean start or star. It means create some level of positive impact, and that is something that Grady Sizemore can do.
Aaron Gordon's 8-Ball Says: My Reply Is No
Grady Sizemore's body has been broken into, dissolved and re-attached to different parts of itself more often than a gutted house. Since 2010, Sizemore has had microfracture surgery on both knees, a sports hernia surgery, and back surgery. Now, I'm not a doctor, but I can Google, and the National Institute of Health says a key risk to knee microfracture surgery is "The new cartilage made by microfracture surgery is not as strong as the body's original cartilage. It can break down more easily." Sizemore's body is pleading with him to stop playing professional sports, yet he bravely refuses to listen, willing to sacrifice his own flesh to pursue one more year of baseball glory.
Of course, this all depends on your definition of "contribute." I do believe Sizemore will play in at least one game for the Red Sox this year. He may even get a hit! But he isn't healthy enough to start in centerfield for the entire season, or even a majority of it. As he runs to the triangle in the Fenway centerfield, he's going to feel bone grinding on bone and he will cry. In sum, not only will Sizemore fail to contribute to the Red Sox this season in any meaningful way, but he will collapse in center field and weep.
Ken Rosenthal asks: Will the Yankees miss the playoffs two years in a row?
Matthew Kory's 8-Ball Says: It Is Certain
The Yankees won't make the playoffs because they are old, too old for the playoffs. Try to get in the door to the playoffs and you'll find there's a sign at the door that says "You Must Be This Young To Enter The Playoffs." Are the Yankees young enough? No, they are not. Even if they tried to walk in the door anyway, Brian McCann would stop them because there are rules and sometimes they're even written down!
Add up the age of the Yankees eight non-pitching starting players and you will find they are 262 years old. You can't win baseball games at that age, I'm sorry. If you took Mark Teixeira's wrist, Derek Jeter's ankle, Brett Gardner's elbow, Jacoby Ellsbury's luck and CC Sabathia's hamstring and made it all into one Frankenstein player, that player would spend all his time laying on the ground making "guuuuuuuuu" noises and waiting for a piano to fall on his head. The rest of the players would be and will be similarly effective at baseball. The Yankees need youth to make the playoffs and as short of a time machine (note to self: Idea!) the Yankees will miss the playoffs this season.
AG 8-Ball Says: My Sources Say No
The Yankees will make the playoffs because everyone on this team is going to have a career year. Jacoby Ellsbury will put together his first back-to-back healthy seasons since 2008-09. Derek Jeter will muster his dad-strength to be a good baseball player for his victory lap. Mark Teixeira will actually hit the baseball in April. Brian McCann will bring panache and get-off-my-lawn attitude to a roster that lacked any discernible personality last season. Brett Gardner will snag the Super Star power up and steal 316 bases in three weeks. Masahiro Tanaka will live up to the hype, forming a formidable 1-2 with Sabathia Fat, the Yankees' newest ace comprised solely of the weight CC Sabathia lost. Kelly Johnson will be a jack of all trades, providing the clutch hits Jeter can't because he's too busy accepting gifts from the opposing team. Michael Pineda will throw a baseball in a game, and it will go in the appropriate direction. Most importantly, A-Rod is forbidden from playing baseball for the entire year.
Brian Roberts will stab himself in the eye while attempting to eat a hot dog and be out for the year, but that's OK.
Shawn Windsor ponders whether the Tigers will pay Max Scherzer. Will they?
Matthew Kory's 8-Ball Says: Don't Count On It
Do you know how much the Tigers owe Justin Verlander? Answer: $180 million. In context, that's somewhere in the vicinity of 180 times as much as you'll make in your lifetime, assuming you're not some smelly hippie who writes about baseball while living in their parents' basement. Beyond that, the Tigers owe Miguel Cabrera $22 million this season and next, and then he gets to leave. You think they're going to let Miguel Cabrera leave? No, of course not. They're going to give Miguel Cabrera the state of Michigan after covering it in gold leaf and engraving "Miguel Cabrera" on everything including the foreheads of all the people of Michigan. (Sorry everyone in Michigan, but the guy can hit!)
Do you know how much covering an entire state in gold leaf costs? It's expensive! Then, after that, they're expected to back the Brinks truck up for Max Scherzer too? Be realistic, people. The Tigers play in a city that recently invented the concept of a "negative tax base." On Scherzer's end, he's hired Scott Boras to do his negotiating for him, and by "negotiating" I mean "threatening" and by "threatening" I mean "leaving." The Tigers can't pay everyone, and Scherzer, being from Missouri, can't legally give the Tigers a hometown discount, even if his agent believed in the concept. The end result is that Max Scherzer will get paid elsewhere.
Aaron Gordon's 8-Ball Says: Most Likely
Detroit is swimming in wealth. Its residents strip down to their underwear and dive into the liquid gold flowing through the streets. Everyone wears Armani suits and drives Cadillacs as a result of the city's $100,000 per diem for all residents. The city is doing so well financially that it's even giving land and money to a private company in order to build a new arena. Naturally, this vast amount of wealth has spread to the Detroit Tigers as well. They have near limitless funds, keeping star players happy by paying swimsuit models to date them. By all accounts, their Monocle Giveaway Night was a huge success. With such excessive riches, the team will surely spare no expense in keeping their Cy Young winner.
There are some concerns in Seattle as to whether top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker will be ready for the season. Will he?
Matthew Kory's 8-Ball Says: As I See It Yes
Aaron Gordon's 8-Ball Says: My Sources Say No
His arm will fall off. It's science.
Ian Kinsler hopes the Rangers will go 0-162. Will they?
Matthew Kory's 8-Ball Says: Yes
The Rangers will lose every single game this season. They'll start off by losing close games, a missed bunt here, a ball on the line there, and progress to losing badly, by five or more runs, each game. The entire Rangers rotation will suffer severe rug burns following a team-building game of Twister during spring training and will miss the season. In May, Ron Washington will be fired. It won't matter. Three weeks later, his replacement will get the ax. Later in the season, due to nonexistent production, Prince Fielder will be downgraded to Viscount. Shin-Soo Choo will decide to take what he knows about hitting left-handed pitchers and apply it to hitting right-handers. Dallas talk radio has already labeled Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus as busts and as we all know Dallas talk radio is never wrong. Adrian Beltre will be on an MVP-pace until he murders Leonys Martin for touching his head one too many times (aka one time). Alex Rios will be placed on waivers and re-claimed by the White Sox, at which point a horrifying accident that his publicists will only describe as "diaper related" ends his career. J.P. Arencibia will play better than he's ever played, and he will be positively awful.
On the last day of the season, the Rangers will jump out to a huge 10-0 lead and just before the start of the fifth inning, it will start raining frogs. Their small helpless bodies will tumble to the ground at terminal velocity, making hideous splatting sounds on the field. There will be frog blood and entrails everywhere and the game will be called. Then news will break that Jon Daniels has been implicated as the leader of a child-run cock-fighting ring. Afterwards, a reporter will ask Ian Kinsler what he thinks of all this and Kinsler will uncontrollably wet himself.
Aaron Gordon's 8-Ball Says: You May Rely On It
In a 2010 ESPN commercial, Kinsler and Prince Fielder foreshadowed their future trade for each other. Kinsler clearly has otherworldly powers with which we need to reckon. If he can make trades happen three years in advance, then forcing a team to bend to his will and lose every single game is well within his grasp. I do not know the precise nature of his omnipotence or what forces he conjures to make his will come to pass, but make no mistake: Ian Kinsler is God.