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When the hostilities had finally come to an end, the old general looked around. He saw his kingdom, once so mighty, so proud, so invincible, lying in ruins.
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I think we're the team to beat.
- Jimmy Rollins
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Spring training means worn-out cliches, sun-burned Caucasians, and friendly players if you happen to go to a game in Arizona or Florida. It also means BB's annual season previews. We hope you enjoy them this year. We begin with the Mets.

You might think that the Mets would be a prohibitive favourite in the NL East after a 97 win season, with contributions from a core of young players that rank among the best in the majors. They shouldn't be.
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Nobody volunteered to write about the Phillies this year, so once again we shall have a group effort.
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The pendulum swings
Back and forth for Marlins fans:
Titles, then fire sales

With no construction in sight for a new ballpark, Larry Beinfest nevertheless put on his hard hat -- to apply the wrecking ball, yet again. It's time to preview the club that perhaps most needs to be previewed in all of baseball -- the Florida Marlins, who jettisoned seven of their eight position players, two starting pitchers and virtually their entire bullpen. So who are these guys?

As always, additional senryus from Box readers are most welcome in the "Comments" field. A "senryu" is, of course, short poems in haiku meter that do not refer to nature. And there ain't much natural about how this ballclub came about.

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2004 was a great honeymoon year for the National’s and their new city. Fans came out in droves to RFK stadium, with attendance averaging close to 35,000 a game. The team was not expected to do much at all, but got off to a good start and then rode a hot streak of one-run wins to first place in June. They weren’t good enough to stay there long, and when the one-run voodoo turned on them in July they gradually slipped back to finish at 81-81. Still much better than had been expected going into the season.
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The 2005 Met team performed about as expected, scoring 722 runs and allowing 648, but posting only 83 wins, despite the solid run differential. Like the Jays, the Mets responded this off-season by upgrading the bullpen, with the acquisition of Billy Wagner the highlight. Wagner’s arrival, along with the fire sale acquisition of Carlos Delgado from the Marlins, have fans of the lesser New Yorkers feeling as optimistic as they can be. Will it be enough to end the Braves’ dynasty?
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The Braves are in control, but the wild card is up for grabs for the four other NL East teams.
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Those that don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

The Braves will win the NL East every year until they don't.

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Back from the break and there's more questions than answers.
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The surprise team of the season is threatening to run away and hide.
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Those Nats just aren't going away. They have a 2.5 game lead over the Phillies and are on pace to win 94 games. Can it continue?
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As expected the Nationals are in first place in early June.

What?!?

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The Marlins have overtaken the Braves for first place in the NL East as the Braves struggled last week with the Red Sox and the surging Padres. The difference between first and last place is just 5.5 games - the tightest of any division in baseball - so it's still anyone's race.
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The Braves and Marlins continue to surge, the Mets and Nats hover just over .500 and the Phils continue to struggle.
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