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Sox Versus Yankees

This is our first (annual?) Hot Chicks look at the upcoming baseball season. In it, we’ll feature a small, best case/worst case blurb for each team, followed by the very eye candy that drives the sports blogosphere. As you can see, we’ll be starting with the league no one ever, ever talks about, the AL East. Is this the year the Yankees (and their payroll) return from being merely “good” to dominant World Series team, or will the Red Sox, et al, be able to overtake them.

Oh, one more thing: we’re doing this in alphabetical order, so don’t think this is the predicted order of finish, because it’s not.

Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles haven’t had a winning season since 1997. Not only that, but they’ve also been through five managers since, about one every two seasons. Does the outlook for 2009 have a different vibe than previous years? In a word? No Doubtful.

Best case – How about over .500 for the first time in over a decade? That’d be a great start. Perhaps, for Oriole fans, the best case would be they buying out of Peter Angelos, but if it hasn’t happened by now … You get the picture. Ideally for Baltimore Orioles fans, the season would go like this: young, talented players like Nick Markakis and Adam Jones continue to demonstrate their franchise cornerstone ability while the young pitching staff turns the page from “unknown commodity” to “up-and-coming talent,” something Oriole fans are desperate for.

Worst case – Instead of improving, the Orioles go completely the opposite direction. The young talent doesn’t improve, the pitching staff is worse than first feared and Markakis slumps while Jones doesn’t live up to expected results. The Orioles finish as the worst team in the American League. Angelos is still in control after the worst possible scenario happens.

Orioles Ladies – Unfortunately, I found only one of note — after about 15 minutes or so, searching for “hot Orioles fans” gets really, really old — Anita Marks. Baltimore fans adore her and after looking at her site, I can see why.

Anita Marks

Boston Red Sox – Besides being one of the only teams to celebrate their attractive fanbase in web form, the Red Sox are also one of the favorites to win the whole enchilada. Offseason bullpen moves gives Boston one of the deepest pitching staffs in the Major Leagues. New faces like John Smoltz and Brad Penny as well as Rocco Baldelli and Josh Bard give manager Terry Francona a wealth of pitching options — and depth — to stay competitive in an already hyper-competitive division.

Best case scenario – Winning the AL East is going to take a monumental effort considering the what teams like Tampa and New York bring to the table. Ideally for the Boston Red Sox, the new pitchers acclimate themselves to their new surroundings and perform as expected. Keeping their hitters healthy would help as well. A line-up featuring reigning AL MVP Dustin Pedoria, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, Jason Bay, Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew is a potent as any in baseball — provided folks like Big Papi are available for the bulk of the season. Provided all of that happens, the Red Sox will challenge for the AL East and another World Series title — their third since 2004.

Worst case – Ortiz can’t get healthy, Pedoria goes into a post-MVP slump, the new pitching acquisitions stink up the joint and Dice-K walks more batters than he strikes out. Meanwhile, the Yankees revamped team runs away from the pack, all while completely sweeping their regular season games away from Boston. Babe Ruth and Buckner become talking points. Again.

Red Sox Ladies – While I’m not saying Boston has the hottest fans, I am saying they do the best of featuring their ladies, something Sexy Sox Girls does quite well. Perhaps other teams need an enterprising web developer with an eye for attractive female fans to follow Boston’s lead.

Sox Fan

Sox Fan

Sox Fan Sox Fan

Sox Fan

New York Yankees – Is this the season where all that offseason spending pays off, something that hasn’t happened since before Alex Rodriguez came to town? Considering just how much money effort into improving their pitching staff to go with their already potent offense, it does look like the New York Yankees are ready to make another assault on the World Series.

Best case – CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett all perform as expected, giving the Yankees the a formidable roster with pitching and hitting galore. Jeter actually turns shortstop duties over to A-Rod while moving to 3rd base. Jorge Posada bounces back for a productive year statistically, all while guiding the primarily new, but incredibly talented pitching staff. A-Rod actually hits in clutch situations and keeps a lower-than-usual profile.

Worst case – Sabathia gets hurt, A-Rod doesn’t stay out of the press, Jeter continues to field poorly but maintains his vice-like grip on a position that might have passed him by. Meanwhile, Manny and Joe do great things in Los Angeles and Boston’s rearmed pitching staff controls the American League. Finish the season not in first in the AL East.

Yankees Ladies – Considering just how popular the Yanks are, I expected a lot more pictures. Again, someone needs to follow the lead of Sexy Sox Girls. Leading us off is Alyssa Milano, a noted Los Angeles Dodgers season ticket holder who jumps on the Yankees bandwagon when she’s back east. I had to stop there because there are more celebrity “Yankee fans” than real ones, it seems — at least in the attractive chicks on the Internet department.

Alyssa Milano

Yankees Girl Yankees Girl

Yankees Girl

Tampa Bay Rays – One-season wonder or long-term good team? That’s the question facing the Tampa Bay Rays, who almost completed their “Shock the World” season afer falling to the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. Considering all the young talent the Rays have stockpiled, don’t expect them to fall back to the pack.

Best case – Eliminating either Boston or New York from the AL East title and dashing one (or both) team’s wild card chances. Evan Longoria wins the MVP, while Kazmir wins the Cy Young. Is David Price eligible for Rookie of the Year honors?

Worst case – A return to the expansion days with empty ballparks and poor play all the way around.

Rays Ladies – Like every popular Florida team should, the Rays have themselves a handful of attractive fans to call their own, including Internet sensation, Jenn Sterger. They also have the Ray Team, furthering the growing “baseball cheerleaders” sensation.

Ray Girls

Ray Girls

Ray Girls

Toronto Blue Jays – Well, Cito Gaston is still in town. Alas, his presence hasn’t produced another trip to the World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays. While they haven’t been able to find postseason success, the Jays have been playing above .500 baseball for a couple of years now. However, the loss of A.J. Burnett to the Yankees will sting.

Best case – Gaston manages his team past a respectable record to challenge the Yankees, Sox and Rays. The loss of Burnett is masked by Matt Clement and Mike Maroth, while Alex Rios, Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, and Scott Rolen all have All-Star type hitting seasons.

Worst case – Cost-cutting measures cut the Blue Jays deeply, leaving a less-than-stellar pitching staff that gives up runs by the bushel, while allowing Toronto to return to the cellar of the AL East.

Blue Jay Ladies – Only one I found worth mentioning is the streaker from last season’s home opener. Come on, Toronto. You can do better than that.

Blue Jays Streaker

Look! YouTube:

Not sure how one would consider a primarily clothed fence-jumper a streaker, but I digress. Next up, the AL Central.