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Defending Offense

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The major league baseball season begins tonight, with the St. Louis Cardinals beginning their title defense against the New York Mets. And, as always, with Opening Day comes optimism. Fans across the country have convinced themselves that this year the (insert local team here) will challenge for the pennant and make a strong push in October. Next year is now.

In no area of the country is this Opening Day optimism felt more strongly than in Los Angeles. Sports Illustrated has projected an Angels-Dodgers World Series. 13 of 18 ESPN.com "experts" have picked Derek Lowe (pictured) and the Dodgers to win the National League West. All five "experts" at CBS Sportsline have picked the Dodgers to win their division, and two of those five CBS "experts" have chosen the Boys in Blue to win the NL pennant. (Alas, four out of five dentists still agree that sugarless gum will win the NL West, but the fifth has abstained from voting, so we can only assume he's a Dodger fan.)

The optimism is not contained to the national media. In the Sunday Los Angeles Times baseball preview, noted writer of tear-jerker articles (and sometimes sports columnist) Bill Plaschke has piled on the bandwagon as well. In his column "Mound for mound, they look like the best around", Plaschke writes:

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"What are the 2007 Dodgers and Angels going to do about their lousy hitting?

Pitch their way out of it, silly.

While the rest of us were screaming for sluggers, the Dodgers and Angels have been scheming for shutouts.

With all of Los Angeles begging for more long balls, the Dodgers and Angels have been collecting more fastballs.

The result is two pitching staffs that could be baseball's best, leading to low-scoring summer nights and high-octane fall afternoons, resulting in …

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A true Freeway Series?"