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Would you rather:

A) Read an MLB season preview written by sober baseball nerds?

B) Read an MLB season preview written by drunk baseball nerds?

If you answered A), you might have better luck here, or here.

If you answered B), or for some reason clicked on those links and still find yourself reading this, then buckle up, because it’s time for the Clown Show’s first annual 2014 MLB Drunk Season Preview.

The premise: aren’t you sick of reading half-assed predictions? “If Clay Buchholz can stay healthy and his FIP only regresses to a certain degree, and if Xavier Boegarts steps up and is the shortstop we think he can be and the Red Sox start winning baseball games early and often, it seems likely that they will blah blah blah blah blah…”. Fuck all that noise. We are getting drunk, not looking anything up, and telling you how we think the MLB season is going to go, fully acknowledging it probably won’t go that way at all. And if sober people think they can do any better than us, well, maybe they can. But you won’t have nearly as much fun reading what they have to say. We promise.

A division a day, for the next five days. Today, we cover the AL Central, because the Cleveland Indians play in the AL Central. If you want to read about the NL Central, you are a day late and a dollar short. But since this is the internet and everything, click here for the NL Central preview. Drunk. 

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AL CENTRAL

by Ricky Automatic

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m an Indians fan. That’s why I’m writing about the AL Central. Other than the Indians, what is there to like about the AL Central? Surely, you mustn’t hate the Twins (but if you do, I understand). But, please, do not like them. They are the fucking Twins. And then there is the case of the South Siders, the Chicago White Sox. What a bummer that whole scene is. Though, I will say, they are the last team from the AL Central to bring home a World Series trophy (2005). Prior to that? Well, the AL Central did not exist, but the Kansas City Royals won the World Series in 1985. That is off the top of my drunken dome, so apologies if it is incorrect (it’s not). So yeah, the Kansas City BRO-yals are in the division, and they are the second least likable team, beyond the bad guys, the bailout guys, the bankrupt yet wealthy, gritty but overpaid, talented but only pretty good, Detroit Tigers. I hate the Tigers. And they hate me.

Last year’s AL Central can be summed up in two different anecdotes (all subject to gross exaggeration and incorrect facts because I’m not allowed to use Google right now):

1) It’s like, late August. The Tribe has a series at home with the Tigers, and can make some headway in the division. They are about four games back at this point. Ubaldo and Masterson have gotten absolutely wrecked each time they pitched against the superior Tigers. Like, Perfect Storm, ship-wrecked, if you discount the moments when you kinda feel like the ship in the Perfect Storm could make it. Kazmir has done equally poor. I can’t remember if Kluber fared well, but seeing as the Indians won four of eighteen against the Tigers all year, he probably sucked, too. So the Indians send Danny Salazar out to the mound for what I believe was his second career Major League Start. Salazar is a thrower, not a pitcher. He is a 5’10”, scrawny, flame-thrower, hucking fastballs interspersed with an ungodly curveball. But those are his two pitches, and his location is suspect, at best. He is running on “this is my second major league start” fumes in a big-time pennant-race situation. He baffles the Tigers for seven full innings, striking out Miguel Cabrera on three separate occasions. The Tribe takes a slim lead into the eighth inning (I wanna say it was 4-2, but who knows). Salazar lets Tori Hunter aboard the bases. Up to the plate comes Cabrera, one on, two out. Salazar throws the same 99-mph, belt-high fastball that Cabrera had been tardy on a couple of different times. Well, good hitters make adjustments, right? And Miguel Cabrera isn’t a good hitter, he is a supernatural species of hitter that doesn’t let a 99-mph belt-high fastball pass by him too-too many times. He crushes the ball into Lake Erie and with it, the Indians chances of winning the division sink deep into the lake. Which is funny, because after a ten-game win streak to end the season, the Tribe finished just one game behind the division winning Tigers. Who would’ve thunk it (Tito, go to the fucking bullpen earlier).

2) Jason Michael Kipnis was born. He decided to play baseball. He played baseball outside of Chicago. He went to the University of Kentucky and then transferred to the University of Arizona State. He was drafted by the Indians. He was converted to second base. He was called up to the majors. He was Jason Micahel Jordan Kipnis. He swiped bags. He hit bombs. He hit doubles. He drew walks. He was Jason Michael Jordan Kipnis.

End Scene.

Anyway, this is what the AL Central is going to look like in 2014:

1. Detroit Tigers- Ugh. I wanted so badly to not pick them to finish first. Verlander, Sanchez, Scherzer, Porcello, Smyly. Ugh. That’s the best starting five in baseball, despite the fact that Porcello kinda sucks and the jury is still out on Smyly converting back to being a starter. Did Verlander have a good year last year? It was pretty good. Was it Verlander-esque? Absolutely not. Is he going to bounce back? Are the Tigers the worst? All signs point to: “Oh, God, why are the Indians in the AL Central?” Prince Fielder is gone. Doug Fister is gone. Jose Iglesias is out for the season (ask Porcello — ground-ball pitcher extraordinaire — if that’s a big loss). Jhonny Peralta packed up the Miami Beach and headed to St. Louis. Bruce Rondon is out for the season (I think). But this team is too good. They have the best hitter in baseball, a solid top-of-the-lineup,  and that dude who is coming up to play third is a beast (at a loss for his name. Nick Castlenatos is as close as I’m coming). You know who is my favorite Tiger? It’s a really close race between Alex “My dad is still the assistant GM” Avila, and Andy “But seriously, don’t I look like J.D. McCoy from Friday Night Lights” Dirks. Oh, and we mustn’t forget Don “I Hope Justin Masterson Is Pitching Today” Kelly (the career .150 hitter has hit 20 homers in 20 at-bats versus Masterson, if I remember correctly). The Tigers are going to win 93 games. Again. And that’s going to be enough. Once they get into the playoffs? Well, they’ll probably meet the Oakland A’s, take the series to five games, and send Verlander to the hill. So, ALCS for these guys. The Tigers are the worst.

2. Kansas City BRO-yals- When the Long Beach State 49ers send a baseball team onto the field, they do not run out as many bros as the Kansas City BRO-yals. Hell, you choose any fraternity in America, and they could not possibly run out nine players that scream “how was that party last night, brah” the way the BRO-yals starting nine does. I think many of the BRO-yals actually run out on the field screaming that, too: “HOW WAS THE PARTAY LAST NIGHT BRAH?!” Alex Gordon. BLEH. Mike Moustakas. HA! James Shields on the hill. OF COURSE. Eric Hosmer. ERIC HOSMER! Don’t worry, folks- we got Greg Holland coming out of the pen and Ned Yost in the dugout and Sexy Rexy Hudler calling the games in the booth: THIS IS A BROMANTIC NARRATIVE THAT HAS A HAPPY ENDING. I think the BRO-yals end up in the wild card game. It kills me to say that. I hate this team so much. The pitching is fine. The bats are going to come alive in a big way (I actually think this is finally the year that Moustakas realizes he can get paid more and score more with the good-looking girls if he starts hitting). And everybody that comes in out of the bullpen throws 104-mph cheddar. That’s a fact. Look it up on fangraphs. God, I hate this team. Brah.

3. The Cleveland Indians- Chris Perez is finally gone. I need a second to genuflect.

Okay, we’re good.

This might seem like a pessimistic Indians fan selling low on his favorite team in order to set the expectations low so that they can only overachieve. But no, this team could totally finish in fourth. They could also win the division, but they won’t. Last year the Indians were undefeated against teams with a losing record and winless against teams with a winning record. Again, all of these statistics should be taken with a grain of salt, but I actually think the Indians were an absurd 50-20 versus teams with losing records, or so, and something like 40-45 against teams with winning records. The rotation doesn’t impress on name value only, but could prove to be anywhere from great to slightly below-average: Masterson, Kluber, Salazar, McAllister, Carrasco/Tomlin. Since we don’t like half-assed predictions here, I will say that the starters will be merely average in the AL. The lineup is good, especially if Bourn and Swisher can step it up a bit. Off the top of my head: Bourn, Swisher, Kipnis, Santana, Brantley, Cabrera, Murphy, Gomes, Chisenhall. Not bad, and speaking of Lonnie Chisenhall: I believe. I really do. I don’t think he’s going to set the world on fire, and he will likely platoon with Mike Aviles, but I could absolutely see Chiz going .270/.325/.400 with 18 HR and 65 RBI. And that would be a big leap. I love this team. They could do it. But they won’t. Alas, that whole “Cleveland” thing across their chest really puts a damper on things. So yeah, first or fifth. Or somewhere in between, like third. I love this team. But, I think they win about three less games than the BRO-yals.

4. Chicago White Sox- The White Sox are going to be slightly better this year. I love the Jose Abreu signing. Nothing says “we are over the Cuban Missile Crisis” like a Jose Abreu homer that leaves US Cellular Field. I drafted him in fantasy, with a reach pick for the ages (seventh round, or something). Which means he’ll totally suck, but still. Then there is Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and all those other guys who will probably start games for the White Sox (their rotation is not very good beyond Sale, even). Avisail Garcia is going to break out in a big way. Adam Eaton is a nice edition. Nate Jones is lethal out of the pen. Is there anything else good to say about this team? Oh, Hawk Harrelson calls their games. I mentioned this once last season: the Indians TV guys are so unfathomably bad that I started watching Indians-Sox games with Hawk, just for the sheer entertainment value. As it turns out, Hawk is really great. He is the ultimate homer, but manages to pay respect to the other team and its players somewhere along the way. He is so invested in the games that it is hard to say he doesn’t do his job well. The Indians walked-off against the White Sox three times last year (I’m pretty sure), and Hawk’s call was always better than the Indians’ TV guys’ call. And granted, Hawk didn’t say a word. But that’s beautiful in its own way, and far better than the Indians TV call. I hate this team. I love Hawk. I said it. “Bad Guys, 15, Good Guys… 0.” Welcome to the South Side, folks.

5. Minnesota Twins- Did I try to convince you not to hate on the Twins earlier? I’m more drunk now. Fuck the Twins. Their starting rotation is unbearably bad. When I want to cheer myself up about the Indians, sometimes I go over to the Twins blog site and read about how they are “optimistic” about a rotation that includes Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, MIKE PELFREY, and some other chumps that aren’t worth mentioning. Good lord. This team needs help fast. Fortunately for them, the farm system is budding with fruit. Fortunately for us, they’ll always be the Twins, playing at open-air Target Field, where you have to hit the ball 450 feet to make it go over the fence in any direction. This is karma, Target (the company). Welcome to karma. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Joe Mauer is the hometown pretty boy who choose baseball over football and that that should be celebrated. So celebrate, Minnesota. Break out the firewood and throw a little party. Throw on the Gophers game. They probably play better baseball than the Twins do. Even when they are playing hockey.

I hope that wasn’t too painful. I know I loved it.