I usually enjoy reading Tyler Kepner’s articles in The New York Times. They are even, intriguing, and will neither drown you in Sabermetrics nor shy away from them. But Tyler Kepner was drinking some of that Clown Show Crunk Juice when he wrote Sunday’s Baseball Preview for the Times

The article — a full newspaper page dedicated to 2014 American League projections — is titled “Orioles May Keep Verlander Waiting.” The headline accomplished its goal: I froze and readjusted the paper into a suitable position for perusal. The first section of the article details how Justin Verlander has had a successful career, led the Tigers to the playoffs several times, but is still waiting for that breakthrough World Series victory. Fair enough. No mention of the Orioles.

So I pressed on. The next section of the article, “Improved Royals Are Lurking,” explains how the Royals will give the Tigers all they can handle. He slights my Indians, claims the White Sox are better, and praises the Twins for spending aggressively on Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. Okay. We are getting weird. Still no mention of the birds.

In “Already Hurting Out West,” we first learn that Texas is going to be garbage due to the slew of injuries they are already dealing with. He notes Jarrod Parker as a big loss for the A’s, and that the Mariners and Houston Astros are going to suck again. He thinks Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols have some good years left, despite their awful contracts, and that Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago, and Tyler Skaggs could carry the rotation. Okay, Kepner is starting to throw back the Brooklyn Lagers at this point, but it’s just a healthy buzz — he’s not “I’m picking the Orioles to win the American League” drunk. Not yet.

“The Beasts of the East” is where the wheels fall of the wagon. The Red Sox are not going to be as good as last year, due to their luck balancing out (but he fails to mention that they were 3 actual wins behind their Pythagorean Winning Pct. last year). The Yankees have an “intriguing rotation” (I’ll give him “intriguing”), the Rays have some “vaunted young arms” (true), and the Blue Jays kinda suck (fair).

Here comes the fun.

Do not be surprised if the Baltimore Orioles turn out to be the best team in the league,” writes Kepner. He expounds: they hit a lot of home runs, added Nelson Cruz, and Earl Weaver would love their utilization of the three-run homer. So, the Orioles score a lot of runs. Fine. How about that pitching staff, Tyler?

The Orioles have five solid starters, led by Ubaldo Jimenez.


If Johan Santana has anything left in his surgically repaired shoulder, the Orioles will get it.

Also, if Ricky Automatic could throw 95 mph, he’d probably have a good chance of pitching for the Orioles.

The Orioles are far from perfect. Third baseman Manny Machado… (who is really good, blah blah blah)… will miss the start of the season while recovering from knee surgery. Baltimore’s long-term outlook is clouded by the service time of (Chris) Davis and catcher Matt Wieters, who are both clients of the agent Scott Boras and can be free agents after the 2015 season.”

That’s right, we looked this Baltimore Orioles squad up and down, and the only flaws we found were Manny Machado being out for a few more weeks, and the fact that Chris Davis and Matt Wieters might not be back after the 2015 season. Non-problems: Ubaldo Jimenez is their “ace,” and Delmon Young made the 25-man roster.

Like many teams, then, the Orioles are squarely in a win-now stretch.

Okay, fair, that helps explain why we were talking about Chris Davis and Matt Wieters leaving after next season, though that’s still two baseball years away. It also means the only flaw in this Baltimore team is Manny Machado’s brief absence.

Their A.L. neighbors Tampa Bay, New York, Texas, Detroit, and Boston have reached the World Series within the past six years.

Neighbors? I Don’t. What? In what sense? That they are all in the American League? This then justifies the sentence “the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners are neighbors.”

Although some of those teams may have peaked, the Orioles and their prime-age core could be better than what we have recently seen.

How are those two sentences connected? What the fuck is happening, Tyler?

Now they have a better chance than you might think to reach the brightest stage in baseball, a place not visited by the Orioles in 31 years: the World Series.

Now do you see why we do our season previews drunk? Because everybody else who writes season previews might as well be drunk. Or, in Tyler Kepner’s case, really, really drunk.

To read some of our own drunk forecasting, click on one of the following links:

AL EAST (by LeftyGarciaparra)

AL CENTRAL (by RickyAutomatic)

NL EAST (by Nickysemiautomatic)

NL CENTRAL (by MachadosMittens)

We might even preview the AL West and NL West some day, but we are going to have to get way more drunk. Is there anything left in that bottle, Mr. Kepner?