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The good ol' wild west. One never knows what to expect. Since 2002 we've seen the Padres win twice, Diamondbacks three times, Dodgers three times (+1 WC), and Giants twice (+1 WC) while the Rockies claimed the wild card twice. So who will pull it off this year and will the 2nd & 3rd placers get a wild card?
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The NL West finally produced a winner as the Giants won it all for the first time since they moved to San Francisco. But what to expect in 2011 from a division that seems to shuffle leaders annually?
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3 teams with 88 wins or more last year after the winner in 2008 had just 84 wins, what to expect this time? All 5 teams have made the playoffs at least once between 2003 and 2009, so again, how to predict? Mix in that, vs 2008, the Dodgers were +11, Diamondbacks -12, Rockies +18, Padres -12, Giants +16 - most variable division out there - how the heck do you predict?
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Over the weekend, John Northey and I had a chance to sit down and talk about the NL West. After our ghostwriter had condensed the multi-day rambling into a manageable chunk and thrown out the words that don't exist, it sort of resembled English. So we translated it into several dead languages, back into English, and the result, which may or may not be an NL West Preview, is shown below.
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Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow (where's that Global Warming we keep hearing about anyway) would prevent Liam from delivering his Giants preview. Although a cranky Internet connection delayed it somewhat.

Take it away...

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I recall when the NL expanded in 1993 and created the Rockies and Marlins. It had been announced a couple of years before, and the idea intrigued me so much that my dad actually hunted down a Rockies' T-shirt for me in about 1991. The thing was pretty much worn out before the team played its first game. I guess the thing that captured my imagination was that there hadn't been any expansion since the '70s (the longest MLB had gone without expanding since they started expanding in the '60s), and that was before I was paying much attention to baseball.

(I also remember the FAN radio station broadcasting the expansion draft for the Rockies and Marlins. Dan Shulman was one of the guys doing commentary, and when Colorado drafted Kevin Reimer, Shulman said something like, “I don’t understand this at all. This is a National League team, and Reimer couldn’t catch the ball if you handed it to him.”)

Then I got over it.

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San Diego has their own version of the Killer B’s with its (army) bases, beaches and babes. However, the Padres could possibly use a version of Houston’s Killer B’s from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, as this San Diego team will rely heavily on pitching and may need an unexpected offensive performance or two to make the playoffs. Or at least that’s the common perception, with their outfield considered one of the worst in the majors. If nothing else Padres fans can take comfort in knowing that whatever happens, it will be tough for 2008 to duplicate the heartbreak of 2007 when the team missed the playoffs due to an unlikely triple by Milwaukee Brewer Anthony Gwynn Jr., son of Padres icon Tony Gwynn, and a phantom tag of home plate by Matt Holliday.
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2007 was a disappointing year for the Dodgers as they missed the playoffs after playing in October in two of three previous seasons. Already boasting one of the best collections of young talent in the Majors, the Dodgers went out and brought in Joe Torre to lead the charge, and signed proven veteran™ Andruw Jones to anchor the outfield. Will Jones rebound from a terrible 2007? Will the Dodgers stop playing proven veterans™ and let their youngsters take over? How does Juan Pierre hold the fate of the Dodgers in his hands? All this and more, on an all new episode of Battersbox!
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Got predictions? Observations? Questions, comments, concerns? Post all your Rockies/Diamondbacks witticisms and dissertational items right here, Bauxites!
These aren’t your father’s San Diego Padres. In fact, they’re not your last girlfriend’s Padres. They’re not Bruce Bochy’s Padres, for the first time since 1994. This year they’re not Jake Peavy’s or Chris Young’s, no matter how much the hopes of this team may ride on those three right arms. Maybe they’re Trevor Hoffman’s Padres, but they’re always going to be his Padres until he retires. So, whose Padres are they in 2007?

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(Liam, our Designated Pinch-Hitter, would like to express his regrets for the delay in submitting his look at this year’s Rockies. Which was fine. Then he started asking if the Box would reimburse him for his Expenses…. We all had a good yuck about that. We’ll let him tell the rest of the tale.)

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When does the future begin for the young Diamondbacks? Maybe it will be 2007.
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Due in part to our claim to be an Interactive Magazine, and due in larger part to the fact that I tend to present gimmicky material in order to mask my middling writing talents, most of today’s preview is in Mad Dodger Libs format.

First, I have to make some preliminary remarks about the Dodgers off-season transactions in more traditional prose, and then you can join me for a nostalgic game of Mad Dodger Libs in the player capsules.
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This following preview is dedicated to the city and people of San Francisco, who may not know it, but they are beautiful, and so is their city. This is a very personal preview, so if the reader cannot understand it, particularly those of you who are Canadian residents, save up all your bread and fly Trans-Love Airways to San Francisco, U.S.A. Then maybe you'll understand the preview. It will be worth it. If not for the sake of this preview, but for the sake of your own peace of mind.
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At this time last year, I warned you all, in somewhat apocalyptic terms, that the 2005 Diamondbacks were going to be a truly wretched and awful team.

And indeed they were. Second place? Yeah, yeah. Don't be fooled. Like a dead skunk in the middle of the road, they stunk to high heaven.

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