Predictions for this year:
The Red Sox and the Yankees will battle down to the wire as they did in 2005. Perhaps even the way they did in 2004. Because as in 2004, the Yankees' injury list in April has almost no bearing whatsoever on where things will stand between the two teams in October.
This year I will not pick the final ordering of teams in the division or in the league, as most of the time such predictions only succeed in making people look foolish when all is said and done (cf. the pick by Sports Illustrated last football season of the Miami Dolphins to win the AFC East).
More practical (and personal) predictions:
I will see Daisuke pitch at least once at Fenway this year. I will also see Jonathan and Curt, but as it is my lot in life I will probably wind up seeing Tavarez start more often than not.
I will see at least a dozen games, including Opening Day at Fenway this year.
I will eat at least two dozen Fenway franks this summer.
I will spend at least three nights taking in a game at the Cask.
Baseball will be at the center of easily one-third of my conversations as of next month.
I won't see anything but baseball on television for the vast majority of the next six months, and 90 percent of that time I won't see any baseball but Red Sox baseball.
I will be moved to the verge of tears by at least one sunset at Fenway this year.
I will boo at least twice at the ballpark this year, excluding umpires.
Jason Varitek is not going to stop swinging at the high fastball--we will be staging an intervention with Kristen by August.
Curt Schilling will win 20 games.
Daisuke will win 17.
Josh Beckett is not going to improve considerably over 2006, no matter what anybody's saying now.
Julian Tavarez will be a decent No. 5.
I will spend at least $100 at The Red Seat this summer.
JD Drew will spend at least 20 games on the DL, no matter what anybody's saying now.
I will find myself unable to resist reading at least one Shaughnessy column in the course of the season, and I will probably be unable to resist ranting about it here afterwards (just so you're all forewarned).
Manny Ramirez will hit 40 / 130. David Ortiz will lead the league in walkoffs.
Trade rumors will fly about Manny leading up to the trading deadline. He will not be traded.
The Sox will start off hot, feasting on the ailing Yankees early in the season, until June, when they will go into a slump some will refer to as a "swoon." Shortly after the trading deadline the Sox will get their shit together, both teams will get some players back off the DL, and August and September will see a battle down the home stretch. Both teams will make the postseason, and it's not inconceivable that they could face each other again once there.
Both fan bases will continue to function on a daily basis as if their teams are the only ones in the universe.
In other words, my predictions for this year in baseball and the Red Sox are pretty much the same as every year. Because generally, that's what actually happens, no matter what the wishful thinkers elsewhere may like to believe before things unfold according to their usual habits.
To say I can't wait for it, though, would be an understatement. Let's play some freakin' ball already.