Without proper offseason preparatory maintenance, three games into the season, Camden Yards will implode due to Leo Mazzone’s rapid vibrations. Without Mazzone on the bench, the earth’s rhythmic cycle will be disturbed, alerting all 835 of Leo’s ex-pitchers around the world. Taking red-eye flights that night, the group will rebuild the stadium in two days, causing the O’s to forfeit only one game. Still, the Orioles finish behind the Yankees and Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox
After putting the Buckner Bungle behind them, Boston will try to nip last year’s Graffanino Gaffe in the bud by forcing their infielders to wear a nylon gill-like apparatus in the open space between their legs. At first the idea will work great, as they get a strong AL East lead. But everything will change on July 2, when a gusty night in Florida causes the gills of Alex Cora and Mark Loretta to entangle. Upset with the Red Sox for finding a loophole in the uniform rules, the commissioner’s office will force Cora and Loretta to complete the game, tangled as they are. Despite the Marlins winning in a 13-4 laugher, this becomes the most TiVo’d baseball game of all time. Much later, in the sandstormed post-apocalyptic world, man’s value in society will be determined by how many bootleg cassettes of this game he owns.
Chicago White Sox
Following their first championship since 1917, the Pale Hose will still be looking for respect. They will finish the first half a perfect 81-0, but the midseason prognosticators still pick them to finish third behind upstart Cleveland and the streaking Twins. The team will sweep the playoffs and win its second championship in a row. The Cubs will still outdraw the Sox.
Trying to build on a scorching second half of 2005, Cleveland’s season will take a detour when new pitcher Paul Byrd is suspended after being exposed as a time traveler from the late 1890s. Unable to find a precedent in the rule book, the commissioner’s office will reinstate Byrd, making him an icon for never gambling despite knowing the future outcomes of all games.
An investigation will be launched into how a mediocre player like Dmitri Young could attain such a badass nickname as “Da Meat Hook.” The result will tell the tale of young Dmitri and his impoverished upbringing. Abandoned when he was 6 months old, Young was taken in by a poor single butcher who fed the boy leftover fat and gristle from that day’s sales. Years on this diet turned him into the muscular beast he is today. The butcher, on the other hand, suffered a whopping 13 heart attacks and finally succumbed to the 14th, from then on referred to as a “butcher’s dozen.” Young’s nickname is a reminder of the time spent developing his powerful swing with bare cow bones, picked clean from that night’s meal.
Kansas City Royals
Hoping to return to the dominant level he showed in his rookie season, third-year pitcher Zack Greinke will watch the entire Saved by the Bell series on DVD to observe a more powerful and relaxed Zack, Zack Morris. The exercise will prove fruitful, as Greinke becomes one of the best finesse pitchers in the game. As long as his ERA stays below 3, the team will gladly accept some minor annoyances that come with the new Zack: an overabundance of hair-spray particles in the locker room, wearing a fanny pack to carry his enormous cell phone, and sporadically yelling “Time out!” to no one in particular.
Los Angeles Angels
The big news: Vlad Guerrero will have his worst season as a pro, hitting in the low .200s, knocking out five home runs, and driving in 30 runs. The bigger news: The poor performance will stem from a torrid love triangle between Vlad, Jose Lima’s wife, and the Rally Monkey. The biggest news: When hearing the rumors, Garret Anderson will let out a laugh. Once.
Following the seventh-inning stretch, a nude Twins fan will bolt onto the field and head toward the Minnesota dugout. In response, a grizzled Ron Gardenhire will walk to the first step and simply stare down the man. The streaker will run away in horror, screaming, “El Diablo! El Diablo!” Moments later, he will become entangled in the baggified center-field fence. Torri Hunter will rescue him seconds from suffocation. The streaker will promise to name his first child after the Gold Glover. If it’s a girl.
New York Yankees
Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi will become enormous busts this season, literally. Trying to find a loophole in the strict steroid-testing policy, the BALCO duo will begin experimenting with estrogen injections. By midseason, their gigantic torpedo breasts will create dramatic holes in their swings. Neither will hit double-digit home runs.
After the baffling signing of Esteban Loaiza, sabermetricians around the country will develop a theory that Billy Beane has been replaced by an evil cyborg. Saber-Men will storm the Network Associates Coliseum and destroy the impostor, realizing too late that the robot’s radiator fluid is eerily reminiscent of human blood. The Saber-Men will be hunted across the country for murder, with the final one brought to justice in 2010. Moneyball is seldom mentioned again, except by White Sox GM Ken Williams, who jokes about it between puffs on his championship cigars.
Ichiro will be temporarily suspended following odd results from multiple blood tests. He is reinstated when he admits that he was born on a distant planet and adopted by a kindly Japanese farming couple. His All-Star effectiveness will disappear when opposing grounds crews sprinkle bits of kryptonite in their outfield grass.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
An exciting youth movement led by Scott Kazmir, Carl Crawford, and Delmon Young; some savvy veterans in the clubhouse; and new management make this an exciting year to be a D-Rays fan. The organization will turn the corner and contend for the AL East title. Until the first week of May.
Chan Ho Park will become the Feel-Good Story of 2006 when he leads the league in ERA and wins heading into the All-Star break. This unofficial title will be put in jeopardy hours before he takes the field in the Midsummer Classic when Chan Ho answers a reporter’s question (“Why is it, exactly, that you sucked so bad the past three years?”) with a roundhouse kick to the face. When the public finds out that the reporter is Skip Bayless, all is forgiven.
Toronto Blue Jays
The season will be sidetracked when Canada’s newest multimillionaires, B.J. Ryan and A.J. Burnett, are involved in an escalating feud over who has the “badder-ass” initialized first name. Their newfound riches will be entirely devoted to creating complex pranks and making the other one look foolish. The eventual winner: America.