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The Watering Hole: Yeah, that's right. You heard me

April 3, 2014

By Michael Waterloo
Of The Spirit

I think I owe all of you an apology.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column that was basically just a rant about current events.

At the end of said column, I said that I promised I would keep it positive going forward.

I previewed some storylines in baseball, but last week, I showed my disdain for the Pittsburgh Power "professional" football team.

I backslid, guys and girls.

So, what do you say we have some fun with this column?

As you know, I've referenced Matthew Berry quite a bit in the eight months that I've been working at The Spirit.

He influenced me to write about fantasy sports, and I even wrote a "T.R.U.M." column modeled after his writings.

So, why not go with another one of my favorite articles that Mr. Berry does each year?

Before each baseball season, "The Talented Mr. Roto" writes a "bold predictions" column, where he makes, well, bold predictions.

With baseball season a week into the books, allow me to make some bold predictions of my own.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all.

Billy Hamilton will steal under 25 bags.

Yeah, you heard me.

It's not that Hamilton doesn't have the speed to steal upwards up 75 bases, it's just that he isn't a good hitter.

Did you watch him Opening Day?

Sure, he was facing Adam Wainwright, who arguably has the best curveball in baseball today, but recording a "Golden Sombrero" (four strikeouts) isn't the best start to a Big League career.

How many other rookies have faced Wainwright and haven't looked that lost?

I'm rooting for Hamilton, and I think he would bring an exciting dynamic to the game.

Unfortunately, though, he'll be heading back to Louisville before July.

The combined number of minutes instant replay is used this year will be more than the total number of minutes that mangers argued last year.

Yeah, you heard me.

I've hated replay since they said they were going to bring it to baseball.

First off, the umpires get 99.5 percent of the calls right.

Second off, why bring in the coaches challenge?

If the object of the replay is to get the call right, why make it a part of the strategy of the game, instead of having someone at the New York headquarters notify the umpires when a call needs to be reviewed?

Look, the first replay went over relatively smoothly, as far as time goes.

But during the 16-inning hellacious game between the Cubs and the Pirates on Wednesday, two calls took way too long.

The argument that a lot of people for replay said was that it will actually speed up the game, because the managers will no longer come out and argue with the umpires.

In reality, all the replay is doing is giving the "baseball is slow" argument credence because of the delays.

By the end of the year, someone with more time than me (OK, it may actually be me), will calculate the total number of minutes that were wasted — yes, wasted — with replays, compared to the total number of minutes that managers argued with umpires last year.

What makes the replay even better is that even if you are out of challenges, the manager can go out there and try to persuade the umpire to challenge the call.

Give me a break, right?

It's such a flawed system.

If they rule that a foul ball is actually fair, where does the runner end up?

It's a challengeable call, and I can't wait to see Bud Selig screw that up, as well.

Tony Watson will have more saves than Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon by the end of the season.

Yeah, you heard me.

The Pirates had one of the most dominate bullpens in the league last year, as Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon were both named to their first All-Star games.

This year, the expectations were high once again, and rightfully so, on the surface.

However, it's there's a whole lot of faith that Pirates' fans are putting into two guys who had career years last year.

During June of last season, I spoke with Melancon while collecting quotes about an article I was doing on Pirates' pitching coach Ray Searage.

I asked him what the big difference was from 2013 to his earlier numbers with the Red Sox and the Astros, where he struggled a little.

Melancon was quick to bark at me and tell me that he was the same pitcher he's always been, and minus a few outings, his numbers were close.

Right....

Melancon did say that the implementation of a cutter was the big difference for him.

Here's the deal, both pitchers could be great this year.

But there's a reason the Pirates signed Grilli to a two-year deal, and with his age and injury history, I can't see him holding up.

As for Melancon, did you watch him during the Cubs' series?

It looks like they figured out the cutter that made him so successful last season.

I still think Justin Wilson is the closer of the future, but this year, don't be surprised if Tony Watson racks up some saves.

The Twitter managers will eventually learn that not all bunts are bad.

Yeah, you heard me.

Aside from the "wooing" that goes on at the Pirates games, the next most annoying thing is watching the Twitter managers bash real-life managers for decisions that they make during the game.

The most frustrating one of all is bunting.

Look, I agree there are some times that it shouldn't be done, but even in the situation that makes the most sense to do it in, fans take to the social media monster to voice their displeasure.

You don't want to bunt when it's going to take the bat out of your best players' hands, I get that.

But when you have Gaby Sanchez, who hits professional right-handers as well as I do, in the rain, why not let him put down a bunt to move the runner over?

The managers manage for a reason.

OK, this went off the rails for a second.

Let's get it back to having some fun.

The Miami Marlins will have a Wild Card spot by the All-Star break.

Yeah, you heard me.

Well, I did say these are bold predictions, didn't I?

I picked Mike Redmond to win the National League Manager of the Year this year, and it'll be because of the job that he will do with the Miami Marlins.

The Marlins have the young talent in Jose Fernandez, Miguel Ozuna, Giancarlo Stanton, Steve Cishek, Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi, as well as former Pirates Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee, so it's not too out of the realm of possibility from happening.

There's always that one team that comes on and surprises everyone each year.

Why can't it be the Marlins?

Maikel Franco will be this year's Yasiel Puig....only better.

Yeah, you heard me.

I thought about putting Javier Baez in this spot, but there's something about Franco that I just like.

He was in the running to get the Opening Day nod at third base for the Philadelphia Phillies, but the nod eventually went to Cody Asche, who, frankly, isn't that good of a ballplayer.

The 21-year-old native of the Dominican Republic had a .339/.363/.563 slash last year at Double-A Reading, with 15 home runs and 51 RBIs in just 277 at bats.

The power is legit, and while he may not lead the Phillies to the playoffs this year, there will be Franco-Mania (can we think of a better term already?) running wild throughout the league.

Look, when October hits, I'm sure I'll look back and ask what the heck was I thinking with these picks.

That's OK, though, because if even a few of them are right, I can be that guy we all love so much and say, "I called that."

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