Designated Hiter | Howard Herman: April is time for fools and baseball

Welcome to baseball season.

Now that the calendar has turned to April, we can really begin to pay attention to the National Pastime. My baseball scorebooks are bound and ready to be used.

Sure that start in March was fun, but it isn't baseball time until we have hit April. And as befits April Fool's Day, no the Pirates — as they were on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. — are not going to stay ahead of the Cubs all season. No. the Seattle Mariners — as good a story as it could be — will not stay atop the American League West Division.

That is the charm of the first month of the Major League Baseball season. We get the good stories, the Cinderellas, the teams that have fallen on their faces. Memorial Day, however, the wheat has separated itself from the chaff, and we should all know which teams are serious playoff contenders, and which teams are just going to be along for the ride.

On Friday, visiting with Evan Valenti on WBRK, I said the American League playoff teams will be division champions New York, Cleveland and Houston, with Boston and the aforementioned Mariners in the Wild Card. I see the National League division champions Washington, the Cubs and the Dodgers, with Milwaukee and long shot San Diego in the Wild Card.

With all of that aside, it is time to look ahead to the good, the bad and the ugly of the 2018 Major League Baseball Season.

The team that will disappoint the most? Can there be any other than the Red Sox?

Even if they win the division, Red Sox Nation will pick this team apart. It wasn't long after Joe Kelly's implosion on the mound in Tampa Bay helped the Rays beat the Red Sox in the season opener that the "Woe is me" started on my social media time lines.

I cannot tell you how many of the Red Sox fans in my online orbit already posted panic buttons.

No, Sox fans, you don't push the panic button after one game.

Baseball is not a marathon, it is longer than that. Too many fans, and not just Sox fans, think baseball is football where one game means so much. One game, especially one game in March doesn't mean much at all.

I know that those same fans who were posting panic buttons on Thursday, had a large sigh of relief when David Price shut his former teammates down on Friday.

The Sox will head to Miami before coming home Thursday to play Tampa Bay.

Those of you pushing panic buttons may eventually be right. But can we have a little fun before you break out the button again?

Speaking of fun, the Astros should be the team having the most fun, and by extension, so should their fans.

On paper, the Astros have a great pitching rotation, and could toss shutouts almost every time out. Houston has MVP Jose Altuve, and I'm not sure if there is a player that is more fun to watch in baseball. He does it all.

If you dig the long ball, then the Yankees (with Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge) are the squad for you. For me, it's the Astros, all day, every day.

Manager on the hot seat? It won't be Alex Cora in Boston, or the New York double of Aaron Boone and Mickey Calloway. None have managed in the bigs before, so it'll be a case of learning-on-the-job for them.

The manager on the hot seat will be Gabe Kapler in Philadelphia. Kapler is another skipper without big league managing or coaching experience. Already, if my writer compadres in Philly are any indication, he's mucked up the rotation and the bullpen.

Philadelphia is a great sports city, but its fans have little patience with managers and coaches. If the Phillies get off to a slow start, keep an eye on the seat that will get very hot in short order.

Oh, and John Sterling is at it again.

Sterling, the longtime radio voice of the New York Yankees, is the most unnatural broadcaster when it comes to home run calls. They don't always come tripping off the tongue and they seem to be planned well in advance.

That's what happened on Opening Day, when Giancarlo Stanton belted two homers for the Yankees. Sterling, who used "It's an A Bomb from A Rod," after declaring a homer "It is high, it is far, it is gone," reportedly consulted with the Berlitz Learning Center for something in Italian to honor Stanton.

The Italian phrase he used was "Non si pu de stoparlo!" According to New York City newspapers, it translates to "You can't be stopped."

Sterling told the New York Daily News and Post that he had no plans to stop using it for now.

Unfortunately for Yankee fans in Berkshire County, there is no local radio station so we can hear Sterling's "classic" calls.

But if media predictions about the Yankees come to pass, Sterling will have plenty of home run calls this summer.

Howard Herman can be reached at, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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