So says T. S. Eliot in his famous poem “The Waste Land” (famous, at least, to English majors). The Waste Land was hailed as a masterpiece of modern realism for exposing as fraudulent the promise of Spring, which soon dies in the searing heat of summer and inevitable return of winter. The cycle leads to decay and destruction not only in nature but also in society. You can read the entire poem here:
http://www.everypoet.com/archive/poetry/t_s_eliot/t_s_eliot_the_waste_land.htm, and read more about Eliot’s Nobel Prize-winning career here: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/18. (Hey, I was an English major.)
But how does Eliot’s law apply to baseball, you non-English majors may ask? Well, in at least two ways, I think. First, in the aforementioned false promise of Spring’s rebirth and renewal, but also in the sometimes crushing recognition that there really isn’t going to be a Spring at all.
We are only one week into the month of April and one week into the MLB season. Yet, the plight of several teams clearly reflects one application of Eliot’s law or the other – or both.
MIN (4-2) – Perhaps no team has looked better to start this season compared to last than the Twins. Winning a series at home against DET and on the road against BAL is impressive. Could this proud franchise return quickly to its solid, over-achieving ways? And how great would it be for them to get into the post-season and not have to face NYY? New B.A.B.E.S. member Dan Nerdahl can dream about such a happy prospect, but he’s likely to be awakened by Eliot’s law in action.
BOS (4-2) – Speaking of returning to stability, look at the Red Sox. Winning two opening series on the road (@NYY and @TOR) makes their start almost as impressive as MIN. Was it simply a matter of replacing Bobby V. with John Farrell to enable BOS to regain their championship form? I don’t think so. The Red Sox may actually compete for the division title, but I don’t see the turn-around surviving all season. (See 1st start-injury to pitcher John Lackey). Eliot’s law likely to be confirmed.
COL (5-1) – The Rockies lost 98 games in 2012 and no one picked them to improve significantly this year. They still have Troy Tulowitski, but a series win over MIL and sweep of SDO does not establish them as the surprise team of 2013. Eliot’s law certain to be confirmed.
CSW (4-2) – Last year’s surprising run lasted all the way to Autumn before expiring in the final week of the season when the White Sox gave way to the expected Central Division champion DET. One week into 2013 they seem intent on making another run at an unlikely division title like OAK won in 2012. I think it is still unlikely. Eliot’s law could be confirmed.
ARI (5-1) – One year removed from 94 wins and an NL West Division title, the D-Backs unloaded some talent in the off-season in order to improve chemistry. So long Chris Young (to OAK) and Justin Upton (to ATL). Hello Martin Prado. Hello again, post-season, for Kurt Gibson’s club? I picked them, so that can only mean “yes!” Eliot’s law should be refuted.
ATL (5-1) – Many of us picked the Braves to make the post-season even though the MLB’s consensus best team WAS is in its division. Therefore, a fast start is not surprising but a 15 run differential in only 6 games is impressive. The Upton brothers made a quick impact with each hitting a home run to win a game in the 9th against the Cubs. 5 wins against the Phillies and Cubs can be deceiving, but I see continued success ahead for ATL. Eliot’s law will be refuted.
HOU (1-5) – Should the Astros have even gone to Spring Training? Many numbers predict the certain disaster that is coming in their first year in the AL, but I’ll limit myself to two. 1) 23 MLB players have a higher salary for 2013 than the entire Astros Opening Day roster. Even I, who preach that payroll doesn’t guarantee wins, understand that this paltry amount forms an exception to my rule. 2) In their first 6 games the Astros stuck out a MLB record 74 times. GM Jeff Luknow says he constructing, not rebuilding. He better be a master engineer. Eliot’s law confirmed already and everyone knows it.
MIA (1-5) – I wrote two posts defending the Marlins’ off-season moves, and I still believe they were correct, but I didn’t say that they would win a lot of games. I just don’t think they will be much worse than they were in 2012 when they won only 69 games. But since they only scored one run in their first 3 games this year, I could be wrong about that. Eliot’s law confirmed already and no once cares in Miami.
PHI (2-4) – Cole Hamels has given up 13 earned runs in two starts and Roy Halliday gave up 5 in only 3 innings. This is one of the best rotations of all time? They have never won a play-off series and are almost certain to miss the play-offs for the second straight year with strong WAS and ATL teams in their division. Charlie Manuel says he won’t talk to his players about panicking, but I’m sure the Phillie fans will take care of that for him. Eliot’s law confirmed, if not already, then very soon.
TOR (2-4) – Many experts (and B.A.B.E.S. members) jumped on the Blue Jays’ band-wagon after the big trade with MIA. So maybe they belong in the False Spring category, but I never thought they would win. Those guys were lousy for the Marlins and I expect them to be lousy for TOR. And as much as I like R.A. Dickey, I wouldn’t build my pennant hopes on his knuckleball, and he’s off to a terrible start. (0-2, 8.44 ERA). Losing back-to-back series at home to CLE and BOS? Eliot’s law alert!
NYY (2-4) – Last and least likely to be so, but there is just no avoiding the fact that this will not be the year for title #28. They started by losing 2 of 3 at home to BOS and then lost 2 of 3 at DET. That shows that these Yankees won’t make it in New York, New York, or anywhere else. Talk about inevitable decay and destruction – and the ultimate confirmation of Eliot’s law. This will be the cruelest April, and entire year, in the Bronx in a very long time, or at least it will be after the NBA season ends. (When was the last time the Knicks were winning 12 games in a row while the Yankees were in last place?)
I am still entering picks, but please view the MLB Competition page at this link to confirm that your picks are correct: http://babesbaseball.com/competition-mlb-2013/
(JSR) © 2013