The only thing that's certain," says Dodger outfielder Rick Monday, "is that they'll play the national anthem before every game."
Indeed, the game's eternal verities are few in number. The Giants will swoon in June. The Red Sox won't have enough pitching. The Cubs will break hearts all summer long. And good pitching will always beat good hitting. And vice versa.
Baseball's unpredictability is one of its greatest beauties and the reason that predictions about the game are so much fun. Scrutiny of the upcoming season reveals some things you can take to the bank.
The Orioles won't win the World Series. In the last five years no reigning world champ has even reached the Series. And Baltimore, including its earlier incarnation as the St. Louis Browns, has never won consecutive world titles.
The right stuff will be in rightfield, the new glamour position. Before this season, the stars there included Dwight Evans of the Red Sox, Harold Baines of the White Sox, Darryl Strawberry of the Mets and Jack Clark of the Giants. Prodigal sons who return there this year include Dave Winfield of the Yankees, Pedro Guerrero of the Dodgers and George Hendrick of the Cardinals. First-timers include Andre Dawson of the Expos, Fred Lynn of the Angels and Gary Ward of the Rangers. Awrright!
There won't be any suggestions that the Pittsburgh Pirates are still Fam-i-lee. Pitcher John Candelaria posted an obscene sign this spring that made his bad feelings about the team perfectly clear; coach Joe Lonnett ripped the abilities of five players in an off-season newspaper story; and Willie (Pops) Stargell took some of his best swings ever at Dave Parker in his recent autobiography.
Pete Rose will get his 4,000th hit by May. Rod Carew will get his 3,000th by September. And Reggie Jackson will get his 500th home run. By himself.
White Sox catcher Marc Hill won't hit his weight. Of course, Hill does weigh 230. But his average after 11 seasons in the majors is .227.
A pitcher will get blown off the mound at the All-Star Game in Candlestick Park, but this time it won't be Stu Miller. The former Giant pitcher was blown off the mound by near-gale-force winds in 1961, the last year the game was played in San Francisco. (Why is it so windy at Candlestick? Because of all the Giant fans.) Miller is not, however, the last Giant to be blown off the mound in an All-Star Game. In '83 Atlee Ham-maker gave up seven runs in two-thirds of an inning.
Dale Murphy won't be the National League MVP. No player in either league has ever won the award three years in a row, though six players have won it three times. And the third time seems to be the charm: All six are in the Hall of Fame—Stan Musial and Roy Campanella from the National League, Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle from the American.