Manny Ramirez is reporting late to camp due to a family issue...that can only mean it's time for me to be reading my baseball preview.
I picked up the Street & Smith's Baseball Preview the other day, and I'm really flying through it this year. Usually it's torturous, because I go from team to team, and make notes for fantasy baseball as I read. This year, it's only reading, no writing, so I'm really flipping through the magazine.
#1. So the first step is to figure out which baseball preview to get. The only one that was out when I was at the store was Street & Smith's, so that's what I got. I went to my bookshelf (for some reason I keep the old magazines), and I had been on a long streak of "The Sporting News" baseball previews until last year...last year, for some reason, I didn't get a baseball preview. So usually it's The Sporting News for baseball, Street & Smith for football. This year I bucked that trend.
#2. Before I dive into the team previews, I like to read the articles, just to get a sense of what to look out for this year. Sometimes there are players highlighted, sometimes milestones within reach...this year, there was a feature on Daisuke Matsuzaka, as well as a story on pitchers over 40 (that hit close to home for the Mets). So I read a couple of those.
#3. Then the team previews. This is a multi-faceted process. The first thing, before the team previews, there is usually a division preview. So I read that for the division I'm about to take on. Then I read the breakdowns, team-by-team, within that division. In past years I have read all of the division previews first, then skip around from team to team until I've read all 30. Not this year.
-What I am doing this year is this - I read all of the American League: East, Central West. But for the National League, I start with the West, then go to the Central, then I save the East for last, so I have something to look forward to. Because if I read about the Mets first, I lose interest in the rest of the teams fast.
(In case you haven't already come to this conclusion, I have strange habits.)
#3a) So I don't just read the team previews - there's a strategy to this as well. I read all of the little sidebars first. I start with the prospects report (Street & Smith's has a really good one this year - the top 10 prospects in each organization). Then I go to the scout's view on a player. Then I read the actual preview article. Then I read the small little stat boxes they give you....then I read the opposing scout's view of the team as a whole.
#3b) Now, here's the weirdest part, but for me, one of the most fun - the last thing I do before I turn the page on a team is look at the players' birthdays. The main thing I look for is 7/7, my birthday, then 8/11, The Wife's. Now, I also keep an eye out for 10/2, The Baby's birthday. Whenever I see 4/8, it also catches my eye, because that's Gary Carter's birthday (and it also happens to be Dave in Brighton's birthday).
So that's how I read a baseball preview magazine. I realized as I was reading today that I read it strangely. My question for you, and I invite your comments, is, how do you read your baseball previews? (My obsessive-compulsiveness, I think, is what has led me to develop this system, because I feel an urge to read every word on the page - even the little stats.)
NOW THE INTERESTING STUFF: If you glazed through most of the above, I ask you to read that last paragraph, just above, so at least you can comment on how you read baseball previews. But here are a couple of things I've gleaned from this year's baseball preview:
-I'm not going to get into my picks yet, but Street & Smith's picks the Phillies to win the NL East, with the Mets getting the NL Wild Card.
-They also pick the Red Sox over the Dodgers in the World Series. Again, my picks will come as the season gets closer.
-Here's a real interesting thing...for some reason, one of the little sidebars in the magazine is each organization's "Best-Ever Shortstops", and they rank the top 3. I was really struck by the Red Sox' page:
#1: Joe Cronin (fine, Hall of Famer, retired number)
#2: Rico Petrocelli (OK, fan favorite, fine)
#3: Rick Burleson
What? Where's Nomar? For that matter, what about Johnny Pesky? He's still with the organization for crying out loud. The Pesky thing doesn't bother me nearly as much as the omission of Nomar, though - that's just horrible. He's their best shortstop ever. Period. OK, actually, I just looked up Cronin's numbers. Wow. He is indeed their best-ever shortstop. But Nomar has to come next. I don't care about longevity. He's better than Petrocelli and Burleson combined...and keep in mind, I don't even care for Nomar all that much.
AND FINALLY...: Usually, I have a west coast team that I root for, so that with the baseball package, after the Mets game is over, I can switch over and watch my west coast team into the early morning hours. In past years, I have found the Angels to be a fun team to watch (although their broadcasters bother me), so it's been the Angels that I prefer. This year, though, despite a boring brand of baseball, I might be tuning in the Oakland A's as often as I can. I just enjoy rooting for Mike Piazza that much - I am very excited for him to be getting a chance to DH this year. I think he'll have a good year, and I want to watch as many of his at-bats as I can. The other interesting thing about Piazza this year is that the A's want to rest Jason Kendall more...so maybe Piazza gets back behind the plate? There's also a chance Piazza will get some time at first base - the A's have a bit of a question mark there. But he's going to primarily be a DH - and I want him to do well.