Futility Friday vol. 1: Introduction to the introduction to the baseball season!

A day late and a dollop short it may be, but this week shall not pass without me posting a Futility Friday. Even if I have to backdate the posting to 11:59pm Friday in a sneaky and possibly disreputable manner. Which I will, because in real life the week will end in less than an hour. But shh! Don't tell anybody.

Pretty much every year since we started going out, Dave has encouraged, nay, egged me to prepare a set of baseball preseason predictions. At first I did so mostly for the same reason I prepared my own bracket for this year's college basketball thingy, the famed March Madness. Namely, because it had about as much predictive value as having a monkey throw ducks at balloons (and nothing is as it seems!). And it's always funny to see the predictions of learned, passionate fans be far outpaced by the accuracy of a monkey throwing ducks at balloons. Or the equivalent thereof.

This year, alas, I have reached an uncomfortable level of informed-itude. I can no longer number myself among the blissfully ignorant, yet I am by all measures neither learned nor passionate when it comes to baseball. This year it was my own idea to post my preseason predictions. I've been talking about it for weeks. Even found myself setting aside a moment here and there to dither. Dither! (Though not, of course, to do any kind of organized research beforehand.) Clearly, I consider baseball to be some sort of deal, even if not the enormously big deal it is to many people.

For the first time, I found myself annoyed by the continuing state of my ignorance about baseball. I reached into my brain to see if I had retained useful information of any predictive value whatsoever. Instead there was a mass of fuzziness punctuated by the occasional arm or leg movement, a joke here and there based on the length or alternative translation of a player's name, or a years-old vague notion of who was best at a particular thing during a rare five-minute period in which I gave a crap. Now, most things to which I have paid attention over the years have way more anchor points in my memory by which I can occasionally dredge them up. Things like quotations, stories, or abstract ideas that interact in cool ways with emotional states. But in terms of practical matters my memory is a Rube Goldberg apparatus composed of scrap metal, twine and duct tape and assembled by drunken underpants gnomes in the dark. Clearly, my brain considers baseball to be some sort of practical matter, at least in this regard. This is insufficient and frustrating.

So I used a very cool map posted on this website (yes, I know, it's otherwise written in Chinese so I don't know whom to credit) to develop a map of my own. A map which, once I buy a USB cable for my printer, I will print out and put up on the wall as a memory aid. In the meantime, here it is:

The blue circles indicate teams in the National League, the league which is cool enough to require its pitchers to step up to the plate and bat when their team is on offense. Some pitchers are rather good at this, such as the Cubs' ace Carlos Zambrano. The American League, whose teams are circled in red, takes the more lame position that the pitcher's place in the batting lineup should be filled by a specialized player known as the designated hitter. This fellow's only job is to bat in the pitcher's place, and occasionally run the bases if he happens to hit the ball into play as something other than a home run.

(You see, I already care enough about baseball to be biased on this issue.)

Each league is divided into three divisions: east, central, and west, as indicated on the map. This much, at least, I know without having to look it up! But now that I have made a note of the actual names of the leagues and their divisions, I will proceed to call them by names I make up. And predict what the teams will do, in a manner slightly less accurate than if I had gotten a monkey to throw ducks at balloons for me. First, I will summarize what I know about each team. Then I will ask Dave and/or the internet for help and clarification. Then I will predict who will win. At the end of the upcoming season, I can revisit these posts and marinate in my glorious incorrectitude!

(three hours later)

This is a lot of work! I hadn't really thought through just how many teams there are, and how much work it was going to be writing a couple of paragraphs about each of them. So I will be posting up one league tomorrow, when I finish it. (I got about halfway through before I got sleepy.) And the next one will go up...as soon as I finish it.