Luke Graham: This time ... I'm money

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One week ago, I would have sworn the economy of Denver shut down.

As one of the many patrons working my way through guerilla advertisers, overpriced ticket scalpers and overboozed baseball fans, I - like the other bagillion people - had to get my first look at the 2007 Major League Baseball season.

Sure the Colorado Rockies lost that day in front of a sold out crowd thanks to a LaTroy Hawkins meltdown (ring a bell Cubs fans?) and the following two games didn't draw as many fans as they did in the first game.

Still, baseball's my game. So, if you're in Las Vegas for spring break or are a fantasy junkie, here's all you need to know about the upcoming season. (Note: Baseball really is my game. For those of you who followed my NCAA bracket picks, consider this an apology. I'm out in a couple of pools, have to shave a Mohawk in May as well as do a run down Pearl Street in Boulder in some unflattering attire - for the second straight year. I'm thinking next year during the pool, we should all go George Costanza on it and do the exact opposite of what I think. Then we'll all win.)

A.L. MVP: Grady Sizemore, Cleveland - He's the cheaper, higher average version of Alfonso Soriano. You can chalk him up to hit .325, 25-30 homeruns, score 120 runs, drive in 80-100 and steal 30 bases. Plus he's got a lineup that's the best in the A.L. this side of Boston or New York.

A.L. Cy Young: Rich Harden, Oakland - The easy choice is Johan Santana. The right choice is Harden. Harden's never pitched more than 189 innings and has spent the better part of the last two years doing his best Mark Prior and Kerry Wood imitation. Still, Harden's got the nastiest split finger pitch in the league that he couples with a 95 mph fastball. Plus my buddy Wade - a huge A's fan - says this is the year for Harden considering he's signed through next year and the popular thing to do with the A's is to have a big year then leave.

A.L. Rookie of the Year: Delmon Young - Plain and simple, he's the best young player in the game. He can do it all and will be right in the middle of what's turning out to be a fairly formidable Devil Rays lineup. He'll hit .280, 30 homeruns and drive in 100. That's good for rookie of the year unless some Japenese pitcher from Boston gets 30 plus starts against the Royals.

N.L. MVP: Derreck Lee, Chicago - Lee had an off year last year due to injuries and personal issues. This year, he's raking. Plus with the best lineup in the N.L. around him, Lee's going to drive in 130 RBIs.

N.L. Cy Young: Jake Peavy, San Diego - In year's past Peavy is either real good or real bad from start to start. But I like his toughness (anyone who repeatedly beans Barry Bonds is OK in my book), his stuff and in the N.L. he'll dominate.

N.L. Rookie of the Year: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado - I'm a Rockies fan, so someone has to win an award and it's obviously not going to be Executive of the Year for general manager Dan O'Dowd. Tulowitzki has an all for nothing swing, but here's betting those gaps at Coors Field will give him a .270 average, 15 homeruns and 80 RBIs. Plus it's a thin crop in the N.L. this year.

A.L. Wildcard: Boston

A.L. East: New York

A.L. Central: Cleveland

A.L. West: Oakland

A.L.D.S.:

Yankees over A's

Cleveland over Boston

A.L.C.S.:

New York over Cleveland

N.L. Wildcard: Colorado

N.L. East: Philadelphia

N.L. Central: Pittsburgh (that's right you heard it hear first).

N.L. West: Los Angeles

N.L.D.S.:

Los Angeles over Pittsburgh

Philadelphia over Colorado

N.L.C.S.:

Philadelphia over Los Angeles

World Series:

New York over Philadelphia in six games.

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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