Five Predictions By the Late Casey Stengel

I had a strange visitation during the night a couple nights ago. I was awakened by a faint glow in the bedroom and the sound of a slight breeze. I knew I hadn't left any lights on and the air conditioner wasn't running, so I woke up to find out what was going on.

What I saw, hovering at the end of my bed, was a ghostly figure, short and stout with slicked-back gray hair, bushy eyebrows, and a bulbous nose. At first I thought it was Spencer Tracy, but that didn't seem right. Then I thought it was Jimmy Durante, but that wasn't right, either. Finally, I figured it out. It was Casey Stengel! I wondered what he was doing in my room at such a late hour.

"I have seen the future," he said, "and it is before us."

"Wait a minute," I thought. "Who does this guy think he is, Yogi Berra?"

He sort of gave me "the look" and then proceeded to say, "There are five things that will happen by the end of this baseball season, and for some odd reason I've been sent to tell you what they are."

"Why me?" I asked.

"Because you need all the help you can get with your next baseball article," he said wryly, "and I'm here to help."

"Okay, thanks, I guess," I responded. "So what are these five things?"

"Well, first of all, your beloved Dodgers are going to fall out of the playoff chase after the break and be all but forgotten by September. With Matt Kemp dealing with injury issues and Andre Ethier having to carry the whole team by himself, they won't be able to keep up with the rest of the NL leaders. Besides, their pitching is starting to wane a little, and Clayton Kershaw isn't in the same groove that he was in last year when he won the Cy Young Award."

I wasn't amused by those comments, but I could certainly see why he would think that.

"Secondly, two teams in the AL East will finish the season with losing records, although not by very much. Even though all five teams are currently above .500, there's no way that all of them can continue to win at that clip. Besides, they all play each other a few more times the rest of the way and someone's bound to falter."

Hmmm, I figured that everyone in that division has the potential to finish at .500 or better, but I know Casey's seen a lot of baseball over the years so he should know what he's talking about.

"Next, there will not be another no-hitter this year. If you look at past seasons when there have been multiple no-nos, most of the time they tend to come in bunches. Sure, there's the occasional late-season straggler who tosses zeros across the board, but this year the bunch ended with Matt Cain's perfect game. Besides, the pitching gods have decided that two perfect games in one season is where the line should be drawn for no-hitters. They don't want a repeat of 2010."

That doesn't seem quite fair, but who am I to argue with the baseball gods?

"Next, Jim Thome will retire at the end of this season. Getting shipped off to Baltimore for a couple of single-A players doesn't bode well for his value. Besides, if the O's happen to win the title this year (which they won't; wait for my last prediction), Thome will have nothing left to prove from his career. He already has his 600 home runs, is one of the most respected players in the game, and is becoming more prone to injury than in the past."

As much as I like Jim Thome, and I'd like to see him come add some veteran leadership and a little pop to Seattle's offensive lineup, I find it hard to disagree with ol' Case on this one.

"Finally, the Texas Rangers will win the World Series, at long last. If they can continue to win at the rate they are doing so now, and with no clear-cut challenger from the National League, the Rangers should have no trouble taking the Fall Classic. Now, I know that they should have won last year, and there have been many instances throughout baseball history where the team with the best record didn't win the Series, but I have a feeling that this is their year."

I can agree with that. It seems that Texas has what it takes to bring the first championship to Arlington.

After a moment of awkward silence, he finally said, "Well, I'd better get going. It's getting light out, you need to get ready for work, and I gotta get back to that cornfield in Iowa before they turn the lights off. It's been nice talking to ya."

And with that, he vanished.

Now, whether or not the ghost of Casey Stengel actually visited my bedroom, or if it was just the pepperoni pizza with extra jalapeños talking, these five predictions will be worth watching to see if they actually pan out. If they do, I'm a baseball genius. If they don't, I can blame it on Casey … or the pizza.

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