Does anyone else think that Peter Gammons looks just a little bit sexier this time of year? I mean, even that blue and orange color scheme on his website puts a little hop back into my step.
For those who feel the same way, here is what will happen in the 2004 Baseball Season:
National League East
Failed attempts by Bobby Cox to memorize his revamped squad result in his commissioning of personalized baseball cards listing each player’s name, date of birth, and turn-ons. A communication error at Topps leads to many of the photos being mixed up and mislabeled.
After an injury, Cox digs deep into his pocket, checks out the cards, and substitutes six-finger reliever Antonio Alfonseca in at catcher. Alfonseca, eager to prove his worth, gears up, gets behind the plate, and delivers the sign to pitcher Russ Ortiz. Ortiz looks to the catcher, sees the sixth finger on the catcher’s hand—the International Sign to Toss an Underhand Lobbed Pitch—and shakes off the sign, not trusting his delivery at this particular moment. Alfonseca delivers another sign, with his sixth finger still out, and Ortiz shakes it off again.
Ortiz continues to shake off every sign for the next four hours before Bobby Cox finally takes out his baseball card portfolio and brings in Chipper Jones to pitch.
The defending world champs get off to a bad start by losing their first seven games. At that point, management realizes its failure to sign a replacement for Pudge in the off-season. The pitchers have simply been throwing the balls to the umpire, who casually knocks them to the ground with his gigantic body-pad.
Paid atendance for 2004 season: Seven
New York Mets
Tom Glavine, Al Leiter, and Steve Trachsel become card-carrying members of the AARP.
Instead of studying opposing hitters, the trio stay out until the crack of seven every night, utilizing their new AARP special discounts to buy drinks for everyone at Bingo. After their request for “mid-game naps” is refused, the three demand a trade to Florida.
The season gets worse after Japanese import Kaz Matsui is found to be an illegal alien. An illegal alien … from space! His cover blown, Kaz returns to the mother ship and continues his ongoing quest for dilithium crystals and Jello Biafra.
After failing to make the playoffs despite lofty preseason expectations, the Philly Phanatic and Pat Burrell drive coast to coast, conducting a two-month killing spree the likes of which have not been seen since Mickey and Mallory.
The two make their stand at a visitor center inside the New Mexico border and are gunned down by a newly deputized Larry Bowa, brandishing twin six-shooters. He returns to Philly with their heads as souvenirs. Tryouts for a new Phanatic are held the following Thursday.
National League Central
The Cubs, behind their amazing pitching staff, get off to a hot start, winning every game in the first two months. They take a hit on June 3 by losing their first game because of an Alex Gonzalez error. The team regroups and spends an extra hour in practice the next day. It pays off as they go on to win all of their remaining games.
Their final record is 161-1. All five starters are Cy Young candidates, but unfortunately no one wins it. The voters cannot agree on who to elect and they all tie for second place.
They lose in the first round of the playoffs.
April 5: Ken Griffey Jr. fractures his right ring finger’s second knuckle joint when diving for a ball.
April 21: Ken Griffey Jr. strains his groin throwing a man out at home.
May 2: Ken Griffey Jr. punctures his left lung after running into the catcher, trying to score.
May 14: Ken Griffey Jr. dislocates his right ankle during warm-ups.
June 8: Ken Griffey Jr. loses his right leg in bicycling accident.
June 9: Ken Griffey Jr. loses his left leg in unicycling accident.
June 27: Ken Griffey Jr. strains his flexor muscle in his right arm throwing a Frisbee to his dog. The dog catches the disc but does not retrieve.
July 14: Ken Griffey Jr. has undetermined injury after catheter mishap in hospital.
July 30: Ken Griffey Jr. breaks his left arm after hitting home run in a local wiffleball home run derby.
August 4: Ken Griffey Jr. breaks his right arm after attempting to demonstrate a “real one-armed pushup” to the nurses in the hospital ward.
August 18: Ken Griffey Jr. sets unofficial hospital record for most crumpled balls of paper tossed in a garbage can in a row.
August 29: Ken Griffey Jr. returns to Reds, miraculously healed from all injuries. Griffey blames God.
September 4: Ken Griffey Jr. breaks every bone in his body at the same time after simultaneous collision with wall, ground, Sean Casey, baseball, giant foam finger, bat, Adam Dunn and an anonymous Reds fan.
September 16: Cincinnati trades Ken Griffey Jr. to Orlando Magic for Grant Hill.
At the end of the season, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens announce their engagement and immediately demand to be traded to the San Francisco Giants.
After a horrific start, the Brew Crew sign free agents Brook Fordyce and Robert Machado to become their catching battery. They two combine to bat for .450, hit 124 HRs, and knock in 230 RBIs. Brook and Robert become co-MVPs and lead the Brewers to a second-to-last-place finish.
After the season the two put an unprecedented “siamese twin” addendum into their contract, ensuring they will always platoon at catcher with each other. Long after their careers are over, the two retire to a small midwestern town to co-manage a minor league team while dabbling in amateur crime-solving.
The ‘Rates get mathematically eliminated from the playoffs on May 2 and proceed to trade their entire roster to the Cubs for the sweat band on Dusty Baker’s right wrist. From that point on, Major League Baseball shortens all games at PNC Park to three innings, utilizing the other six innings for sausage race marathons.
The Italian sausage never wins.
St. Louis Cardinals
Albert Pujols breaks every single season hitting record before the All Star break, leading the Cardinals into a surprising first place spot. The Cardinals, using their twenty-game cushion to prepare for the playoffs, bring up Rick Ankiel to test out his control and velocity.
On the first pitch, Ankiel’s pitch sails wide left towards first base, hitting Pujols in the head and knocking him out for the year. The Cardinals finish at third place in their division.
National League West
Randy Johnson’s left arm falls off in the first game of the season. He begins testing out his right arm and, after a few bumps along the way, eventually hits 150 m.p.h. on the radar gun, strikes out thirty in a game (a ten-inning 1-0 victory), and wins the NL Cy Young.
The team fails to make the playoffs.
After the Rockies pitching staff combines for a 14.27 ERA in the month of April, management decides to get rid of all its pitchers, trading them for big-name sluggers, and sign fourteen-year-old softball pitcher Jennifer Smokes. She pitches every game, giving up eleven runs a game. Colorado finishes with a perfect .500 record.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers pitching staff posts a record 1.50 ERA for the season, but finish below .500 after scoring .25 runs a game. Adrian Beltre hits .250, with ten HRs and fifty RBIs. Scouts say, “He is finally showing patience at the plate and should be a good one next year.”
Eric Gagne’s ERA reaches negative numbers.
San Diego Padres
The revamped squad gets shoddy directions to the brand new PETCO Park and ends up in the middle of an apartment complex. The group changes its name to the Brush Field Vipers and wins the local softball league while playing on a half-dirt, half-cement field.
San Francisco Giants
Barry Bonds, tired of the steroid controversy, simply stops working out and suddenly loses eighty pounds of muscle. He trims down to his old, skinny figure. Instead of hitting out seventy HRs, he steals 120 bases.
After the season, Bonds says he has never felt better and feels like he can play for another ten years.
Over drinks at a local dive one night, Rickey Henderson confesses, “Hell yeah Rickey’s scared. Rickey likes his SB record. Rickey needs his SB record. Rickey needs another drink.”