One hundred years ago, the Chicago Cubs played their first game in Wrigley Field, beating the Cincinnati Reds 7-6 on April 20, 1916. A century of baseball later and there is yet to be a newly minted World Series pennant flying over the bleachers on the North Side. Other baseball goings-ons in 1916 included:
- The cessation of operations for the Federal League, the last time the omnipotence of Major League Baseball would be challenged by a rival baseball league.
- George Herman “Babe” Ruth continuing his young career dominance…as a pitcher. The Babe notched his first 20 Win season (23 to be exact) and led the American League in ERA at a 1.75 clip. He also was not a Yankee.
- Walter Johnson continued to be the best pitcher alive at the moment, albeit a down year with only 25 Wins, a 1.90 ERA, 369.2 IPs, 228 Ks, and an ERA+ of 147. Deadball era or not, Walter Johnson is still the best player to wear a Washington uniform, just don’t expect anyone at Nats Park to know who the hell he was.
- Speaking of deadball, Pete Alexander of the Phillies led all of baseball with 33 wins. Which would be amazing if it wasn’t a season sandwich in between 2 other 30+ Wins campaigns.
- Still speaking of deadball, we had a three way tie for the homerun title…at 12 dingers a piece. Needless to say, the New York Sun wasn’t investigating PEDs at the time.
- The Babe’s Boston Red Sox defeat the Brooklyn Robins in 5 games to notch back-to-back World Series titles.
Oh what a Dodgers fan would give to have the success of the Brooklyn Robins. In 2016, MLB seems to be in the midst of a multi-year transition from the stars of the post PED era, the likes of Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki, Miguel Cabrera, CC Sabathia, and Justin Verlander, into an era of the $400m young super-star. In the 2015 All-Star game, only 10 out of 79 players on both rosters had appeared in more than 5 All-Star games. Compare that to 41 of the players that considered it their first or second appearance at the Mid-Season Classic. The league belongs to Trout, Harper, Giancarlo now. Even guys like Buster Posey and Joey-Bats seem like again stars even though they’ve only been in our baseball consciousness for about 5 years. So we’re in a bit of transition, both on the field and off as the game continues to defy logic with dueling media narratives about the slow death of the sport versus the astronomical piggy bank that is MLB. After the exciting playoff run of 2015, the confluence of young talent and teams flush with cash with the outside chance to make even the Wild Card playoff, personally I think baseball is here to stay.
To the predictions!
REGULAR SEASON PREDICTIONS
1. New York Yankees – y
2. Toronto Blue Jays – x
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. Boston Red Sox
5. Tampa Bay Rays