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"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you." -- Woody Hayes, old school football coach.
At the Church of Baseball, soul-cleansing is guaranteed.
Baseball kicks the stuffing out of ballplayers, if not their bodies their egos. Batting champions meet failure more than half the time. Most division winners absorb 60-plus defeats.
Baseball also flogs anyone who dares predict its business. West Coast Bias, volunteering to be a pinata, makes his predictions public before every Opening Day. It's Louisville Slugger time today. WCB revisits three calls from his National League West forecast. Baseball spanked each one.
The Garden Snakes will finish last.
Known elsewhere as Diamondbacks, our desert crawlers looked improved from last year's 97-defeat performance -- but not improved enough to get anywhere. So far, so wrong. Kirk Gibson's squad is dueling the Giants for first place. WCB doubted Arizona's starting pitching (and still does). Baseball had other ideas. A homegrown pitcher named Josh Collmenter saved the rotation. His way of throwing is so over the top, it puzzles hitters. Of late, Joe Saunders has pitched like someone found him a new left arm.
Rockies closer Houston Street isn't the answer.
Street is a pretty good pitcher, but WCB assumes a Rockies closer had better be great to survive in high altitude. Trevor Hoffman, the all-time save leader, never closed for Colorado but likened it to climbing a mountain--all year. Denver's ballpark? "They should blow it up," Hoffman said in 2001. About then, the Rockies started storing baseballs in a humidor to help pitchers. It's still a tough place to pitch and Street doesn't have a dominant pitch. But he's cashed 23 of 25 save chances.
"Street is almost an afterthought," says FOXSports.com's Tracy Ringolsby, a longtime Rockies observer. "He doesn't have that death-defying fastball. He doesn't have a trick pitch. He merely underscores the value of throwing strikes and hitting spots."
The great Giants bullpen willl regress.
The logic: Several Giants relievers had career years in 2010, it's hard being nearly perfect, the bill would come due for last year's long slog through October.
Bah, baseball said. Giants relievers, even more so than last year, are making hitters chug arsenic.
Whatever the Spanish phrase is for "We eat regression for breakfast," several Giants relievers are well qualified to say it. Among them are Dominicans Roberto Ramirez (1.50 ERA) and Santiago Casilla (1.35 ERA).
Fellow scribe Jeff Fletcher, a longtime Giants writer, also predicted regression. "I don't know how they are doing it," Jeff said in an e-mail, pure of soul.
Photo: CBEImagery, Creative Commons 2.0