By Eric Neel
Page 2

Memo to Cubs and Red Sox fans: Fuggedaboutit.

Ignore what the pundits are saying about your pitching staffs and disregard the giddy little poems they're writing about your lineups.

It ain't gonna happen. Not this year. Not ever.

Dusty's going to grind those young northside arms into dust by July, and the warring superegos in Fenway are going to make a rumble between the Jets and the Sharks look like a knitting circle come August.

You're going down.

Suck it up. You ought to be used to it by now.

I know I am. I count on it. We all do. Nothing makes us happier, really.

You're like bad mojo magnets. You keep the stink off the rest of us. And as long as you keep going up in flames every year, no matter how ugly our teams play, we can rest easy in the fact that they're nowhere near Cub Homely or Red Sox Pathetic.

Red Sox fan

Plus, it's fun watching from a distance, wondering when and how things will implode.

Me and some buddies of mine have a pool going this year: I've got $5 on Sammy converting to Buddhism and declaring himself philosophically opposed to the violent act of hitting a baseball, and another five on Pedro pulling a Brando, going into hiding, and eating shovelfuls of ice cream straight out of the carton. The Sammy thing's a longshot, but I figure a 300-pound Pedro with Tin Roof Sundae dribbling down his chin is better than even money.

Don't feel too bad. Think of the joy you provide for the rest of us.

Like Charlie Brown kicking at the air and landing flat on his back, you're always good for a laugh.

Sure, we're mocking you, but at least we're paying attention. If you were to actually get off the schneid it'd be like "Moonlighting" after Dave and Maddy kissed: No more tension, no more suffering, and no reason to watch.

You don't want that, do you?

Who am I kidding? Like what you want has ever mattered ...

* * * * *

Edwin Jackson

Los Angeles sending Edwin Jackson to Triple-A.They're thinking about it ... When the young pitcher beat Randy Johnson last September, people got all excited and manager Jim Tracy had him in the rotation before spring training even began. But Edwin's struggled with his control a bit, as 20-year-olds are apt to do, and it makes sense to give him time and space to get things right.

Plus, the Dodgers' Triple-A club is in Vegas, so now he gets a chance to see that whole World Series of Poker thing live and in-person. Anybody remember "Lost in America"? "You lost the nest egg?! You lost the nest egg?!" Mmmm, on second thought, maybe this isn't such a good idea.

Fred McGriff

When Tampa Bay assigned Fred McGriff to the minors last week they may have slammed the door shut. The 500-HR plateau may not be a HOF lock any more, but it sure helps, and now he's nine short and looking for work. He's a borderline case (326 Win Shares). If I had a vote I'd give it to him, but I'll admit that in addition to a career slugging percentage of .511, I'd let things like a pretty, looping swing influence my thinking.

  • What's your call? Vote here
    Vladimir Guerrero

    More Angels telecasts. First, owner Arte Moreno lowers beer prices, then he signs Vlad, and now he negotiates deals to increase the number of local Angels broadcasts from 90 to 153 games. How long till they make this guy the mayor of Tomorrowland? How long till his bobblehead dolls are the toast of eBay?

    Mark Prior

  • On days Mark Prior stays on IR: 30

  • On days until fans build a Prior Prayer Wall on Waveland, complete with baseball-shaped candles and sonnets written in tribute to his calves: 7

  • On days until fans start throwing themselves off the rooftop venues across from Wrigley: 23
    Milwaukee upping dog prices. Counting on the euphoria Brewers fans must be feeling coming off last year's 68-94 record, the good folks at Miller Park have decided to raise brat, Italian, and Polish prices by 25 cents to $3.75 a piece. Here's the thing: If you offered to pay me $3.75, threw in a dog, a free ticket, and a program, I'm still not sure I'd come out for Opening Day in Milwaukee.
    A spot reserved for unheralded greatness

    Matt Stairs, DH, Kansas City Royals

    He can't play the field much, but he'll get some ABs, and he'll mash 'em like Yukon Golds when he does. In 305 at-bats last year with Pittsburgh, he hit 20 home runs, walked 45 times, and slugged at a .561 clip. That there's a hitter, ladies and gentlemen.

    There ain't much joy in Rayville, but maybe this will pass for good news. According to Stephen C. Smith at, Tampa Bay, with a 2003 overall salary of $19,630,000 and 63 Ws, spent a league-low $311,587 per win last year. So, you know, they're terrible, but at least they're not wasteful. Unless of course you count the $3.13 million they're throwing at Danny Baez this year ..."
    14-hour time difference between New York City and Tokyo. Jet lag, baby. Jet lag.

    $23 million. According to Daily News writer Michael O'Keefe, A-Rod is the best bargain in sports. By March 14, the Yanks had sold 2.8 million season tickets; 400,000 more than at that date last year. Some say Rodriguez's presence could push Yankee Stadium attendance numbers above the four million mark this year, putting an extra $23 million in George's war chest.

    Last week, I asked you to chime in on possible nicknames for the Angels' Garret Anderson. Thanks to all of you who wrote in. Some of the top contenders are in the poll to the right. Cast your vote.

    Carlos Delgado. The folks at Baseball Prospectus call him "the greatest Blue Jay of all time." That's good, but I'm looking for something a little catchier.

  • Send in your suggestion here.
    If you add one new Web site to your daily time-sucking devotional reading on the grand old game, let it be, where right this minute you can read an ode to Strat-o-Matic baseball (if you don't know, you better ask somebody ...), and terrific five-question team-by-team breakdowns like this one on the Toronto Blue Jays (which does not, by the way, include a catchy nickname for Carlos Delgado).
    Take a look at Scott Rolen, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals. Physics teachers throughout the St. Louis Area Unified School District are using it to teach their students about ideal drag coefficients. Car designers in Germany are modeling hoods on it. Women all over the world are going weak at the knees.
    BUY UP
    Stock in Rafael Soriano, the Mariners' 24-year-old reliever, who throws the ball hard, harder, and man-that-ain't-right. He struck out 68 and walked 12 in 53 innings late last summer. He'll start this year in the pen, but don't expect him to stay there.
    Your shares of Russ Ortiz. In fact, while you're at it, dump whatever you've got invested in Ramon Ortiz, too.
    People are so jacked about the Padres they go off at 25-1 to win the Series. I'd say the A's at 22-1, the Mariners at 30-1, the Twins at 35-1, and the Jays at 50-1 are all better bets.

    And while I'm at it, here are a handful of fearless predictions:

    NL CY: Roy Oswalt
    AL CY: Tim Hudson
    NL MVP: Brian Giles
    AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez

    Next week I'll do the division and pennant races and predict a world champ.

    Eric Neel is a regular columnist for Page 2. His "On Baseball" column will appear weekly during the baseball season.