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Finally, baseball season is here (and so are my picks)

Finally, baseball season has arrived.

That means, despite the weather whipping across the Midwest and Northeast, spring is here.

So, while I await some snow, now's as good a time as any to make my picks official.

NL East
1. New York Mets: The bullpen stunk last year. It's better this year.
2. Philadelphia Phillies: The champs are fighting for a wild-card berth.
3. Atlanta Braves: They're better and will stay competitive all season.
4. Florida Marlins: The Pirates need to follow the Marlins' blueprint for rebuilding.
5. Washington Nationals: Jordan Zimmerman is the pitcher to watch in a couple weeks. Will it be Stephen Strasburg in a couple months?

NL Central
1. Chicago Cubs: The best team in this division.
2. St. Louis Cardinals: Tony La Russa finds a way to keep this team near the top.
3. Cincinnati Reds: What a rotation.
4. Milwaukee Brewers: They will miss C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets.
5. Houston Astros: No one in the rotation after Roy Oswalt.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates: Another long season.

NL West
1. Los Angeles Dodgers: They have Manny back, which isn't necessarily good news.
2. Arizona Diamondbacks: Nice 1-2 punch with Brandon Webb and Dan Haren.
3. San Francisco Giants: Don't be surprised to see them competitive all season.
4. Colorado Rockies: Weren't they in the World Series a couple years ago?
5. San Diego Padres: Let the Jake Peavy sweepstakes begin.

AL East
1. Boston Red Sox: They have it all.
2. Tampa Bay Rays: Gotta root for the underdogs with the low payroll.
3. New York Yankees: I can't pick 'em, no matter how much they spend.
4. Baltimore Orioles: Young offense still needs some pitching.
5. Toronto Blue Jays: Roy Halladay is great but there's not much else here.

AL Central
1. Minnesota Twins: They're just hoping to get everyone healthy right now.
2. Cleveland Indians: They bounce back this year.
3. Chicago White Sox: They slip to third in a competitive division.
4. Kansas City Royals: Surprise team of the year.
5. Detroit Tigers: Sorry, Jim. I don't think there's magic this year -- or a pitching staff.

AL West
1. Los Angeles Angels: They're too deep. The West is to weak, too.
2. Texas Rangers: Great hitters. Not-so-great pitchers.
3. Oakland Athletics: Rebuilding with a young pitching staff.
4. Seattle Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr. won't help.

NL Playoffs
Mets over Dodgers; Cubs over Phillies
NLCS: Cubs over Mets

AL Playoffs
Red Sox over Twins; Angels over Rays
ALCS: Red Sox over Angels

World Series
Red Sox over Cubs


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I never understood the Steelers' fascination with their backup quarterbacks.

They've had either Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich for what seems like ages now.

And when the Steelers really needed a backup, Leftwich couldn't deliver.

Leftwich rambled 31 yards for a touchdown Sunday against the Ravens, but other than that burst, the Steelers couldn't do anything on offense in a 13-10 loss that puts them in a bad position in the AFC North.

Leftwich, with his long delivery, looks better suited for the Pirates' bullpen than behind center.

He went 18-for-39 passing for 201 yards, but couldn't help a Steelers' offense that looks lost right now.

The Ravens came into the game with a weak defense. The thought was Leftwich could manage the game, the Steelers could find a running back to rely on and they'd escape with a win.

It didn't work out that way.

And it looks like we could see Batch at QB this week -- or someone else.

The Steelers are worried about Leftw…