2004, Here We Come

Ain't it funny how time slips away? (A better man than me has asked the same question.) Wasn't it just the millennium, and before that Clinton's first inauguration, and just before that Reggie Jackson hitting all those bombs in the World Series? Enjoy every moment, folks, because it goes fast.

That said, here are my fearless baseball predictions for 2004:

- Hoping to convince Bud Selig to reinstate his eligibility for the Hall of Fame, Pete Rose admits to betting on baseball games. As soon as he does, Bud says "A-ha! I knew it!" and forever bans Pete not only from baseball but from buying a used car at Bud's dealership. Undaunted, Rose lobbies J. Paul Bremer to appoint him Iraq's first Commissioner of Nearly-Naked Wrestling. Bremer refuses, but millions of Iraqi boys honor Rose by getting ugly crewcuts.

- Barry Bonds passes Willie Mays to become the 3rd greatest home run hitter of all time. But the record is tainted when a jar of Viagra is found in Bonds' locker. Renouncing the drug, Bonds only hits 2 home runs the rest of the year but bats .457 and gets on base 84 percent of the time. Critics then complain that Bonds' vision is so good, he must be using an unauthorized type of saline solution.

- The Marlins do not win the World Series. Neither do the Pirates or the Dodgers.

- The Yankees and Red Sox install nuclear-tipped warheads in the home bullpens of their respective ballparks. Larry Lucchino threatens to put George Steinbrenner on the "60-year disabled list." Pedro Martinez demands to be traded for Alex Rodriguez. When the Yankees hold Kenny Lofton to his promise that he'd do anything, even park cars, to win a World Series, Lofton peels out in Brian Cashman's pinstriped Mini Cooper and leads the police on a seven-state car chase. When finally arrested, Lofton is babbling incoherently about being "the Godfather of Centerfield Soul."

- Sidney Ponson explodes.

- Unable to find a job out of spring training, Rickey Henderson forms a little league team called "The All-About-Rickeys" and leads them to the title game in the Little League World Series, which they lose 12-3 to a squad of 24-year-old Taiwanese.

- Vlad Guerrero signs with the Seibu Lions so he never again has to speak English.

- James Baker is called in to help reduce the debt load of the Arizona Diamondbacks and several other major league teams. Pervez Musharraf becomes the Yankees' new general manager. Osama Bin Laden is found in Manny Ramirez's hair. "Dude, whatever, I had no idea," Manny says.

- The Giants win the World Series in the 15th inning of the 7th game. Having run out of bench players, Alou sends up Robb Nen to hit for himself, and Nen drives in the winning run with a triple to the 421 marker. J.T. Snow barely scores from second base.


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