begins the regular season at the height of NCAA basketball interest. This is
true March Madness.
whoever is in charge of this one-time grand game has scheduled Cleveland at
Anaheim this Sunday night on ESPN to start the 162-game grind.
majority of the openers take place Monday, April 1. Several teams will wait
until Tuesday, April 2.
definitely no buzz in town for anything but the NCAA’s,” said John Avello,
the colorful race and sports book director at Bally’s-Paris Las Vegas.
day is the most exciting day in baseball, but the scheduling of these games
during Final Four weekend in asinine. But, considering who is running the asylum
these days, this scheduling flaw is merely par for the course.
Sunday, March 31
Indians at Angels: A showcase
game for the Angels, the team that should be the biggest surprise in the majors.
Anaheim, with new red uniforms, has improved its rotation with the acquisition
of Aaron Sele (Mariners) and Kevin Appier (Mets). Darin Erstad and Tim Salmon
come off career-worst years. Cleveland needs to ÂÃ‚Âreplace Juan Gonzalez and
Roberto Alomar. Take ANGELS.
Monday, April 1
at Red Sox: Pedro should
toss five or six and Nomar is healthy. Toronto has a potent lineup led by Carlos
Delgado. Rookie SS Felipe Lopez makes his debut at 21. Could be an upset
possibility in the cold. Take JAYS.
at Orioles: Jason Giambi
makes his Yankee debut. Derek Jeter has his glove. Baltimore doesn’t have Cal
Ripken or Brady Anderson. Jeff Conine had a wonderful 2001 (.311, 14 HR, 97 RBI)
he won’t scare anyone in the cleanup role. Plus, he’s 35. Take YANKEES.
at Royals: The Twins are
young, talented and carrying a chip on their shoulders. Kansas City is in
another rebuilding stage. Take TWINS.
Sox at M’s: This could
be a playoff matchup right off the bat. Frank Thomas returns to the Chisox and
Kenny Lofton is a wonderful addition. Seattle can’t win 116 games
again, but can repeat as West champs. Take MARINERS.
at A’s: Juan Gone,
A-Rod, Everett, Palmeiro all in one lineup, and John Rocker in the bullpen.
High-combustion. A’s lose Jason Giambi but Jeremy G and supporting cast are
solid. Take A’S.
at Braves: The in-fighting
has already begun in Philly, with third baseman Scott Rolen still unhappy.
Atlanta is a veteran team with the improved offense from Gary Sheffield. Maddux,
Glavine and Smoltz are a year older, but still fine. Take BRAVES.
at Mets: Mo Vaughn,
Roberto Alomar and Jeromy Burnitz add huge firepower to an offense that
already had Mike ÂÃ‚ÂPiazza and Edgardo ÂÃ‚ÂAlfonso. The Pirates have Aramis Ramirez
and a lot of unanswered questions . Take METS.
at Reds: Moises Alou and
Sammy Sosa give the Cubs an awesome middle of the order. The Reds need a huge
year from Ken Griffey. Cincy could be the NL surprise. Take REDS.
at D’backs: Kevin Jarvis, who
tosses the opener for San Diego, is part of a young, exciting staff. The world
champs figure to start Randy Johnson or Curt Schilling. Take D’BACKS.
at Cards: If leadoff batter Juan
Pierre can get on for Walker and Helton, the Rocks can win. McGwire is gone, but
Tino Martinez joins a balanced Â lineup.
Tuesday, April 2
at D-Rays: Detroit will
throw Jeff Weaver, who has all the tools to win 20. Tampa Bay is a bad team. Take
at Dodgers: Barry Bonds,
all-time single-season home run champ, against Shawn Green, Paul LeDuca and
newly acquired Brian Jordan. Jeff Kent is out of the SF lineup. Take DODGERS .
at Astros: Houston was
22-10 in games Wade Miller started last year. The Brewers figure to struggle. Take
Marlins at Expos: The Jeffrey Loria Bowl. Loria owned the Expos last year, but sold the team to MLB so he could buy the Marlins. Take MARLINS.