Posted: Tuesday December 19, 2006 12:57PM; Updated: Tuesday December 19, 2006 12:57PM
The Red Sox will sign Roger Clemens. The contract will pay Clemens $12 million to join a six-man rotation anchored by Daisuke Matsuzaka, and he'll sign it on June 1, just before a home game against the Yankees. Boston will also agree to retire the Rocket's number 21 at the end of the season. Clemens will then announce (again) that he's retiring.
Tom Glavine will win his 300th game in late August. That will prompt the media to ask whether Glavine is the last of the 300-game winners, just as they did when Clemens won his 300th in 2003 and when Greg Maddux won his 300th in '04, and as they will again in '08 when Randy Johnson wins his 300th (with the Diamondbacks).
Barry Bonds will pass Hank Aaron as the alltime home run leader with number 756 on Sept. 7 in San Francisco against the Dodgers. After hitting number 755 in Washington on Sept. 1, Bonds will sit out four consecutive road games because of what the Giants call "tightness in his hamstring," thus avoiding the embarrassment of being booed upon breaking the record. The Giants, mired in last place, will hold a 20-minute ceremony immediately after his milestone homer, but neither Aaron nor commissioner Bud Selig will appear.
The Mitchell Report will name names ... but not new ones. On Feb. 12, when Major League Baseball releases the summary of the 12-month investigation into the Steroid Era by former senator George Mitchell, it will reveal -- surprise! -- prevalent use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout the game from 1988 through 2003. The only users named will be Jose Canseco, Ken Caminiti, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Grimsley and Barry Bonds, who won't be disciplined because his documented usage occurred before penalties were in place. No club official interviewed in the report will confirm having first-hand knowledge of steroid use. Privately, owners will be steamed at the tens of millions of dollars spent by Mitchell and his squadron of lawyers on a glorified fact-checking mission.
Ryan Howard will blast 66 home runs, with Albert Pujols right behind at 62. After a reprise of the Great Home Run Race of 1998 -- only this time it's for real (or so we like to think) -- Howard will be generally, if unofficially, treated as the new Home Run King.
The Cubs will win the National League Central. But just before the first pitch of the Division Series, 18-game winner Mark Prior burns three fingers on his pitching hand when he moves a space heater in the Chicago dugout. The Dodgers sweep the series.