Contenders hit the radar screen

Jul 3, 2007 5:14 AM

It’s almost time for our mid-term exams for the 30 baseball teams that make up the Major League. Four teams qualify for the playoffs in each league. Once they get there anybody is capable of getting hot and winning the World Series.

The probability of a hot team winning it all came last year as the St. Louis Cardinals, with only 85 victories during the season, became the world champs. Anyway, here we go with my projection of the 2007 class of contenders.

The National league figures to be the easiest to handicap, as the New York Mets have pitching, power hitting and a solid bullpen, and really should prevail. My favorite betting team, the Brewers, hopefully will hold on now that they’ve gotten this far. Their offensive line-up is excellent, along with a strong bullpen, although they have only two starting pitchers who figure to be able to obtain post season victories.

The West Division is presently in position to get two entries into the playoffs. With the Padres and Dodgers running neck and neck, I can’t guess which one will be the wild card entry and which will win the division. The perennial fork gets stuck in Arizona, St. Louis and the perennial bridesmaid Philadelphia, as well as the stumbling Atlanta Braves.

In the fun league a mild upset is in the cards as the Central Division will provide two teams for the playoffs, instead of the East Division, which has been the strongest for many years. Cleveland and Detroit will continue to feast on the Twins, who are having an off year, and the hapless White Sox, as well as the worst team in baseball, the Kansas City Royals.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will coast to a division championship on the strength of a great home record, one great ballplayer and a truly super manager who loves to run and play small ball in a long ball league. The Red Sox have such strong pitching that it will be impossible to displace them or catch them in the Eastern Division.

The Red Sox and the Mets should meet in the 2007 World Series, but they probably won’t, as any one of the above-mentioned teams can get hot, and as the Cardinals did last year, steal the championship.

Enough of the speculation aspect of this column — let’s get to the facts so we can all bet on some totals and stay afloat at least until Labor Day when football marches to the forefront.

This weekend I’ll play the Cubs at Pirates under, along with the Twins at White Sox under also. The overs for the weekend’s games should be the Mets at Astros and the Phillies at Rockies. That should keep everybody in chips and looking forward to the All-Star break.

In closing a word must be said about the much publicized NBA draft: INDIFFERENCE. Not a single drafted player will move the future odds one one-thousandth of a percent. Bet on it.