Before I unveil my fabulous 2019 panel of baseball experts and their equally fabulous post-season picks, I need to cover two important details.
First, the season has already started. The Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s kicked it off last week with games in Tokyo, which counted for baseball, but do not count with me.
True Opening Day is Thursday, March 28. This is the earliest Opening Day ever and all 30 teams will play. This early start is to allow teams to scatter a few additional rest days into the season. (Need more rest days? Lose 100 games and you’ll get all of October off.)
Opening Day in 1919?
Second, Sports Illustrated.
Hi, SI guys. (And, by “guys” I mean, literally, guys, because girls are generally unwelcome at Sports Illustrated.)
Last year, my experts outsmarted the dude-fellas at SI who were sure the Nationals would win the World Series.
Neither did the Colorado Rockies, which was the team my cat chose. My cat.
But, the Rockies did make the post-season. Do you know who didn’t make the post-season? The Nationals.
So, Mookie the Cat – 1, Sports Illustrated – 0.
Being outsmarted by my cat apparently did in SI, because there are a lot of words in their latest MLB preview issue (including calling the Baltimore Orioles “ugly” … twice), but no official World Series pick. Best I can tell, they will commit only to predicting the Dodgers will be the strongest team in the NL and the Astros, the strongest in the AL.
Where’s your Series pick, smart guys?
Are you SI, or are you SI’m Afraid To Be Wrong Again?
My 2019 panel of experts is clear that SI is wrong about the Dodgers and the Astros. And, as in previous years, my panel is awesome.
The rules for my expert panel are simple – all each one needs to do is choose the winner of a division. If they are right, I bake them cookies. The more right they are … the further their chosen team goes in the post-season … the more baking they will enjoy. Win the World Series, and I’ll bake up a storm – thousands of calories of homemade cookies, cakes, and pies. I am a Bloggess of my word and not only am I ready to bake, I am rooting for my panelists.
Let’s get this cookie-ful baseball season started.
Aubrey, The Softballer, Picks The Marlins
Even Aubrey, who is six, knows that the Washington Nationals aren’t winning anything in 2019. Not only that, Aubrey is choosing the Miami Marlins who, with 63 wins, had the worst record in the NL last season. If you’re going to stick it to the Nats, go big. Aubrey is sure this is the Marlins’ year.
Aubrey’s mom recently reopened The 230 Market in Radiant, Virginia, which is the closest thing to a town to where I live. (And, by town, I mean, there is a tiny post office, the newly reopened 230 Market, and a historical marker recognizing Ollie Tucker, the one major leaguer who hailed from Radiant.) Radiant is, for the most part, a town in memory only; the kind of town that existed when going the 10 extra miles to get groceries was nine miles too far, especially if you were going by horse.
The 230 Market is where you go when you need a soda or a snack, or if you’re hungry for fried chicken which Aubrey’s mom Angela cooks up daily. It’s a handy-to-have-around kind of place and when it closed some years back, I was sad that our little market was gone. I’m glad it’s back.
Aubrey has just started playing softball.
What does she like best about it?
“I can hit.” Then she smiled and paused and added, “I can do everything. I do all of it.”
I love a spunky softballer.
Why The Miami Marlins?
Aubrey shrugged. She just has a sense …
Will she be right?
Every single bobblehead at the Marlins’ bobblehead museum says, “Yes.”
Kayden, The Ringer, Picks The Cubs
My panel always needs a ringer, the one person who really does know his way around a diamond.
That’s Kayden. When I saw him and his father pull into the parking lot of Charlottesville’s Tip Top Restaurant at breakfast last weekend, I knew immediately that he would be my ringer.
And, I was right.
Kayden is 12, plays travel ball, and is a shortstop who also pitches. I asked him if he was good and he paused and politely said, “I’m ok.” But, I knew better. I turned to his dad, “He’s really good, isn’t he?” And, his father nodded.
Kayden hopes to play baseball in college someday … Ole Miss or maybe NC State. They are recent transplants from North Carolina so clearly I need some of you to comment here and let Kayden know how perfect he would be playing at Virginia.
Kayden’s a Braves fan and Freddie Freeman is his favorite player. (He assures me that he likes Nick Markakis, too, but I had to push him on that.)
When he’s not playing baseball he is playing basketball or football or working out (which was where he was headed after breakfast). He’s also a fan of Fortnight and Rainbow 6 video games.
Why The Chicago Cubs?
Kayden doesn’t really like the Cubs. (He’s a Braves fan, remember?) But, after considering the Cardinals, he opted for the Cubs, anyway, acknowledging that they have a good team and a strong pitching rotation.
Keith, The Pizza Pie Preparer From Putney, Picks The Giants
“Does the orange and black show too much bias?”
I’ve known Keith for a long time and he’s never really been a baseball fan, except when he played Strat-O-Matic as a kid. Back in the day he was the road manager for some of my favorite bands, including Scruffy the Cat and Poi Dog Pondering.
He also worked on Dazed & Confused, one of my favorite movies.
Dazed & Confused – Dear Baltimore Orioles, I think I just found the perfect 2019 tagline for you!
Today, Keith and his family live in Putney, Vermont where he makes pizza and carefully curates the craft beer selection at the historic Putney General Store, Vermont’s oldest general store. It’s been around since 1796, which makes it older than baseball.
When not pizza’ing, you can find Keith avoiding baseball by hanging out at Putney’s Antidote Books, “an honest to God real book store with poetry readings and espresso.”
Why The San Francisco Giants?
“Two words – Willie Mays.”
Snake Plissken, The Blind Pigeon, Picks The Rays
How about that my panelists are now making their predictions via video? Pretty sweet.
Snake Plissken is named after Kurt Russell’s eye-patch-wearing toughnik character in Escape From New York.
Snake the pigeon is equally tough and has one blind eye that was a birth defect and is currently blind in his good eye following a cat attack that left him badly injured.
Snake The Pigeon.
Anyone who knows cats knows that most birds don’t recover from cat attacks. But, Snake is no ordinary pigeon. He is, as the saying goes, one tough bird.
(Reminder – keep your cats indoors. Do it for Snake Plissken, the blind pigeon, and his feathered friends.)
Kayla already had a pigeon, Big Meanie, and is now caring for Snake, who had been brought to the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Kayla is an illustrator/graphic novelist and a celebrity in the world of Dungeons and Dragons and online table gaming; you can find live streams of her gaming online.
Kayla admits she knows nothing about baseball, although she did know that the Staten Island Yankees briefly renamed themselves the Staten Island Pizza Rats last year as part of a fan vote.
Although he’s totally blind at the moment, Kayla reports Snake is healing, thriving, eating, “is quite sassy,” and with care might recover his vision in the one injured eye.
Why The Tampa Bay Rays?
Snake has his reasons.
Martha, The Mayor, Picks The Twins
Martha is the Mayor of Orange, Virginia, a town with a population of about 5,000.
Orange is small, but it has a lot – restaurants, B&B’s, an art center, a dance studio, parks, craft beer, and … almost forgot …
One Yoga studio.
It also has Martha, a friendly and outgoing mayor. She looks after the town and its citizens because she cares about them. She’s a good Mayor. She loves the beach, sea turtles, University of Virginia sports, including Wahoo baseball, and the town of Orange.
Long ago Orange on the left … Orange today on the right.
She encourages you to visit …
Why The Minnesota Twins?
“My niece has two sets of twins.” Mayor Martha can tell you that her niece’s twin twins are in Raleigh, North Carolina, but she can’t tell you where major league baseball’s Twins play, which is ok by me.
(Dear Mayor Martha – Minnesota.)
She also doesn’t know that my favorite former Oriole Jonathan Schoop is playing for the Twins this season, so I’ll have no problem rooting for them.
Mike and Jonah, The Father & Son, Pick The Angels
Mike and his son Jonah (who is six, “but nearly seven”), were at Sunday’s baseball game at the University of Virginia. It was warm, sunny, and the Wahoos completed their sweep of Pitt.
They just moved to Charlottesville from Atlanta last year.
Mike is a coach with USA Cycling and Jonah plays baseball and his favorite position is catcher. When he’s not playing baseball, Jonah is playing basketball and football.
They don’t follow much major league baseball, which makes them perfect for my panel.
Why The Angels?
Jonah picked them instantly. “That was my T-ball team name!”
Mike agreed and as he circled the Angels he said, “For what he’s getting paid, they better do it.”
This is important for two reasons. One, even non-baseball fans heard about Mike Trout’s record-breaking $430 million/12 year contract last week. And, two, Mike Trout doesn’t even need to be named … he can be referred to as “he” in almost any situation and we will all know who “he” is.
As in, “He is the best player in baseball.”
THE WILD CARDS
There are no wild card teams.
Last year, my wild cards were chosen by an Android phone and iPhone’s Siri. They both correctly predicted post-season teams.
I am not baking cookies for an iPhone again this season. I’m just not.
Plus, I’m confident that the six teams chosen by my panel are plenty. They are wild enough for me and I’m rooting for all of them!
Let’s Pick The World Series!
While Sports Illustrated no longer has the moxie to pick a World Series champ, my cat Mookie Wilson-Betts does. He hasn’t been right yet, but he knows this is his year (and there’s a can of sardines in it for him, if he’s right).
Without peeking, Editor/Husband chose one American League team and one National League team, and I carefully wrapped their names – still hidden – around two adorable fish taco cat toys and placed them on a blanket.
Before I could refocus my camera, Mookie jumped up on the bed, grabbed one of the fish tacos, and ran off with it. So, he made his pick, but we had no photographic evidence.
You’ll just have to trust us.
What team did Mookie leave behind?
The Angels were in the left-behind fish taco. (Of course. Mike Trout. Fish taco.)
So, the Angels will play in the World Series. But …
Who will win? Who was in Mookie’s fish taco? It’s a California series!
Congratulations, San Francisco Giants!
SI predicts the Giants will be one of the worst NL teams this season and will be unloading their veteran players by midsummer. It’s sure going to be fun to see SI outsmarted by a cat. Again.