Rozner: White Sox have a right to dream big
If the last 12 months of living in the Bizarro World has taught us nothing else, at least it's clear now that trying to forecast tomorrow is pretty much impossible.
Throw in the fact that baseball is, well, baseball, then perhaps it's a hair too soon to crown the Dodgers as repeat champs in 2021, a full eight months ahead of a championship series.
As spring training begins in Arizona and Florida, the general feeling is the Dodgers have already won the title, having won the winter, the last World Series and several offseasons out of the last five.
But winning the winter is far from a guarantee and even proverbial all-star teams like the Dodgers are subject to pitching injuries, pitching misery and pitching poorly.
Toss in a pandemic that is nearly certain to shut down entire teams for weeks at a time, and trying to predict who's going to stay healthy -- baseball or otherwise -- is too ridiculous to even try.
Besides, even teams that stay healthy and romp through the regular season are promised nothing come the postseason.
As you look at the best of the best, including the White Sox among the five or six teams that appear to have a reasonable shot, it's a reminder that not too long ago the narrative was all about "super teams," and how no one else had a chance.
The game was ruined, forever.
Yeah, that was like 15 minutes ago. It was foolish, of course, but why not get hysterical if it makes a few agents happy and creates a few clicks? The world is, after all, about clicks.
Yet, despite the super team fear, in the last genuine season it was the wild-card Nationals (93-69) winning it all, despite four teams winning 100 games and seven teams winning at least 95.
In 2017, Cleveland won 102 games and didn't make it out of the first round.
In 2015, the Cardinals were the only team to win 100 games. They lost to the Cubs, who also beat the 98-win Pirates, but the Cubs lost to the 90-win Mets, and the Mets lost to the Royals in the World Series.
The year before, the wild-card Giants (88-74), with the 10th-best record in baseball, defeated the wild-card Royals (89-73) in the World Series.
Yeah, because baseball is still about pitching, defense, getting on base, moving runners and the occasional big hit. You can change the game all you want, but with a couple monster starters, a great closer and timely hitting, any team can beat a supposed super team.
In the last 10 full seasons, only three teams with the best regular-season record have gone on to win it all, and no one will forget the 2001 Mariners, who won a record 116 games and lost 4-1 to the Yanks in the ALCS.
So, if you're a White Sox fan, for example, and you're wondering how in the world they can beat the Dodgers in the Fall Classic, just remember that there's no certainty the Dodgers will even get there, despite no obvious weakness and superstars everywhere you look.
As a very strange spring training begins this week, the concern for your team -- assuming your team is bothering to compete in 2021 -- is health, both on and off the field.
Over 162 games, if that many are actually played, the best teams will make it to the postseason and the teams with the best starting pitching will advance to the big dance.
The Dodgers are certainly deep and seemingly invincible as they head to Camelback Ranch along with the White Sox, but it's about eight months too early to fear a team that hasn't thrown a pitch in anger in 2021.
The Dodgers are a huge 3-1 favorites to win it all, better than half the price of the Yankees (7-1), with the Padres at 8-1 and the White Sox a solid fourth choice at 10-1, just ahead of the Mets (11-1), who chose not to go all in on Trevor Bauer.
Still, there are no locks in February, only hopes and dreams. The Sox have big hopes as they look across the field at the Dodgers.
And there's no harm in having a dream.