The most anticipated event in baseball is at hand: The day I announce the galoots I fancy. The rosters are broken down into National and American leagues, and there's a third list for, uh, borderline cases. Guys who missed the cut but are fun to have around anyway.
HEATH BELL, MIAMI MARLINS
Chinstrap? Chinstrap. Chinstrap!
CHAD BILLINGSLEY, LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Form every indication I've seen, Chad's a friendly, low-key guy. And his thighs could crush a '57 Buick. So kiss off, haters.
MADISON BUMGARNER, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Madison's one of my neighbors. Sort of. He's from North Carolina. And he's never met me. Okay, we're neighbors in spirit. He's probably not a big PBS fan, but I'm not into cattle-russlin', so it all evens out. I think we'd get along just fine.
MATT CAIN, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Quite possibly the world's most perfect man. Matt Cain will be the first man to set foot on Mars, and he will travel there on a spacecraft powered entirely by the angst of his detractors. He sketches Feynman diagrams for fun. He turned down an offer for first chair French horn in the San Francisco Symphony because he didn't want his talent to overshadow the rest of the section. He negotiated the Camp David Accords despite being six years away from birth. Matt Cain.
SCOTT ELBERT, LOS ANGELES DODGERS
C'mon. His name's Scott! You can't hate a guy named...okay, bad example. But Elbert's one of the good guys. I promise.
BRIAN McCANN, ATLANTA BRAVES
Words cannot begin to express my admiration of this man. He's a big, sweet, snuggly teddy bear backstop. He's shy and endearing, with a great sense of humor and a great body. Seriously, I've seen very few guts that have more appealing curvature.
PABLO SANDOVAL, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Pablo, don't listen to them. Big is beautiful.
DAN UGGLA, ATLANTA BRAVES
Sadly, an exhaustive search did not turn up a photo of Dan Uggla waist-deep in a pool. Dan's another of my Southern boys, born in Kentucky but raised in Tennessee. You know what I like about him? He apparently doesn't care too terribly much about machismo. He's big into hugging (forget that high-five noise), and whatever this is, I heartily approve.
JOEY VOTTO, CINCINNATI REDS
I was always pretty lukewarm on Votto, until a I read a piece about him in USA Today earlier this week. He's learning Spanish. He's a wine guy. He loves books. Señor Votto. You had me at Hola.
JEFF FRANCOEUR, KANSAS CITY ROYALS
A lovable, goofy guy. Co-inventor of Bacon Tuesdays at Oakland Coliseum. A fellow Southerner. People say he's got the crazy eye, but I say he's full of life. And homicidal rage.
JOSH HAMILTON, TEXAS RANGERS
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HE'S LICKING A BAT I LOVE YOU JOSH
BRETT LAWRIE, TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Stop smoldering me with those smoldering eyes, you smoldering smolderer! O, Canada. Ohhhhhhhhh...Canada.
JOE MAUER, MINNESOTA TWINS
His hair! It's so voluminous and dandruff-free!
MIKE NAPOLI, TEXAS RANGERS
When I go to my file cabinet, I pull out a manila folder whose tab is marked, "Napoli, Michael." Inside is a single index card that reads, "BEEFY." This is the sum total of my knowledge of Mike Napoli. And it's good enough.
ALBERT PUJOLS, LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ORANGE COUNTY
CODY ROSS, BOSTON RED SOX
How could I not choose The Boss? He was gorgeous as a Giant, and he's gorgeous now. What a great guy.
JIM THOME, BALTIMORE ORIOLES
The nicest guy in baseball. The only thing he's tested positive for is too much walleye on a stick. I like affable people, and Jim is first among equals.
JUSTIN VERLANDER, DETROIT TIGERS
He gon' get that stubble all over me. Mercy.
Jonathan Broxton, Kansas City Royals
Melky Cabrera, San Francisco Giants
Johnny Damon, Cleveland Indians
Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox
Craig Gentry, Texas Rangers
Josh Johnson, Miami Marlins
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies
Bud Norris, Houston Astros
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals