Season Preview: Wood Beats Johnson

By Ryan A. Gold
Wahoo! Sports
In a galaxy far, far away

“If only you knew the power of the Dark Side…”

You can hear Lord Vader in your head, can’t you? And the dark side sound pretty good, doesn’t it? Why is that? What’s the allure?

What happens when you’re on the side of right? You go around rescuing people and sticking your neck out for others and for what? Even if you get the girl in the end, it’s probably some princess that wants to get married. Meanwhile, the Vaders of the world are out there fucking drunken prom queens. On the dark side, you don’t have to play by any rules; all you have to do is win. “Vader is in this for one person…and that’s Vader” (*points two thumbs at self*). The appeal lies not just in the power, but also in the freedom to exercise it in the pursuit of personal pleasure, unfettered by the constraints of morality.

If the current version of the Yankees built a three headed Mt. Rushmore, it would feature the carved faces of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera. There’s another place you’ll find this trio: on the 2010 Wood Beats Johnson squad. Having been competetive year in and year out with a team featuring a cadre of Sox, but with only an ’09 second place finish to show for it and with the Yankees reigning champs in the alternative universe…well, hello dark side.

Built around the face enemy, Ned has assembled a team that will once again find itself in the mix. Six players hit 30 or more home runs last year. Eight players drove in more than 90 runs. The defense will be excellent. Uggla, Abreu, Ibanez and Cuddyer are all under the radar veterans and Adrian Gonzalez is as much under the radar as a bona fide superstar can be. The offense will not dominate, but they will provide a challenge for opponents week in and week out.

Verlander and Jurgens lead a staff of reliable hurlers. De La Rosa quietly led all NL southpaws in wins last year. Jeff Niemann is a comer. Wolfe and Arroyo eat innings and both should provide reliable contributions. Heath Bell and Rivera are elite closers, with Brian Wilson firmly in the second tier. Holds machine Matt Guerrier will form a part of the Twins closer by committee, so holds may need to be addressed via the waver wire.

So has Ned really gone to the dark side, giving up everything in the pursuit of winning? Let’s ask Dr. Jung, who loved his shadow, though some modern scholars say it’s a silly notion.

“When we must deal with problems,” Jung wrote, “we instinctively resist trying the way that leads through obscurity and darkness. We wish to hear only of unequivocal results, and completely forget that these results can only be brought about when we have ventured into and emerged again from the darkness. But to penetrate the darkness we must summon all the powers of enlightenment that consciousness can offer.”

Just as we noted in a previous season’s preview for Commissioner Ned’s team that homerism rationally applied is really a kind of pragmatism, perhaps this journey through the darkness is, as Jung suggests, a reflection of a higher understanding of the self. God speed, Commish. May it be more sweet than bitter.

Prediction: In it to the end

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