Sports Column

America’s pastime returns Thursday


It’s baseball time!

And for those of us who love the game, it means we’ll have something to celebrate (or complain about), every day for the next seven months. Yearly reminder: Even the best teams in the world will make their fans angry 60 or more times this season. It’s a beautiful thing.

Baseball is one of the greatest forms of art in the world. It’s a game of inches, yet played at an unbelievable speed. It’s a constant chess match of pitcher vs. batter, manager vs. manager, luck vs. skill, and power vs. finesse.  Leo Durocher once said: “Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand.” As someone who has been around both my entire life — the pursuit of understanding is part of what makes it so great.

It’s time for my 2024 predictions, with a few notes for each team. Last season, I predicted 4 of the 6 division winners correctly, and missed badly on surprising teams like Texas and Baltimore. 


1. Astros- I give them the slight edge over Texas because of health. They know how to win, and they added Josh Hader.

2. Rangers- The defending champs could be even scarier this October as pitchers get healthy and young stars like Langford and Carter take over.

3. Mariners- An 88-win team last season, but still missed the playoffs. Would love to see them as a Wildcard team this time around.

4. Angels- Even Anthony Rendon doesn’t want to watch this team without Ohtani. 

5. Athletics- It will be a brutal few years before Vegas


1. Twins- Probably the best all-around team in a weak division.

2. Tigers- Could have a winning season this year, with an outside chance of the division.

3. Guardians- Remember when they blew a 3-1 lead in the ’16 World Series?

4. Royals- Lots of young talent. When will it come together?

5. White Sox- I heard they have new food at the ballpark this year.


1. Orioles- Pitching worries me a little, but they’re absolutely loaded with offense and young talent.

2. Rays- Rays gonna Ray again, and beat most projections. 

3. Blue Jays- Difficult team to predict. Loads of potential, but it’s a tough division.

4. Yankees- Soto/Judge will be crazy, but I already questioned the pitching even before losing Cole to injury.

5. Red Sox- Solid team in the wrong division. Don’t sleep on them.


1. Dodgers- One of the best teams on paper you’ll ever see. Their demise in October will be a joy for others to watch.

2. Diamondbacks- The most surprising team of ’23 added some good pieces. Still, the Padres/Giants are lurking.

3. Padres- Despite losing Soto, it’s a talented group that could be a threat in the Wild-Card.

4. Giants- They added a lot, but they’re pretty old.

5. Rockies- Mile high elevation. Mile below everyone else in the standings.


1. Cubs- Before you call me a homer, understand I picked the Cubbies to finish third last year. The addition of Craig Counsell was huge, and it’s a solid mix of veterans and youth on a hungry team.

2. Reds- This team probably has the highest ceiling of anyone in the division. I’m still not sold on their pitching, and they keep losing players this spring. I won’t be surprised if they’re playing October baseball.

3. Cardinals- After last year’s disaster, this team is ready for a fresh start. It still has a lot of talent. I don’t think they added enough (good) pitching to win the division.

4. Brewers- They lost their manager, their top two starting pitchers, and will be without their star closer for a while. Still, it’s a team that has surprised us year after year.

5. Pirates- This team has a lot of young talent and could surprise. They won’t be the easy series win of years past, and I won’t be shocked if they finish higher.


1. Braves- The only thing stopping this team will be injuries or boredom. This ridiculous offense will ride into October again.

2. Phillies- They keep beating Atlanta in the October sprint, but I don’t see it in the six-month marathon.

3. Marlins- Decent team that needs a lot to go right if they want to contend.

4. Mets- It’s probably going to be a few years.

5. Nationals- Should be improved and they already gave good teams some fits last year.

Plaaaaaaay ball!

Tyler Smith covers the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Hoosiers for IndySportsLegends and is a frequent contributor to the Journal Review. He is also the youth and sports pastor at New Hope Christian Church.