One doesn't have to be a fortune teller to predict the following for the 2002 baseball season. In fact, you can mark the dates on your calendar.
March 1 -- Cal Ripken will come out of retirement, and be the sixth man off the Washington Wizards' bench.
March 15 -- Determined to reach 4,000 hits, Rickey Henderson agrees to 10-year contract with the Montreal Expos and begins referring to himself as Le Rickey.
April 1 -- Homer Simpson's neighbor Ned Flanders opens a second Leftorium store in New York City, where regular customers include the Mets starting pitchers (Al Leiter, Shawn Estes, Glendon Rusch and Bruce Chen) and 3/5 of the Yankees rotation (Andy Pettitte, Sterling Hitchcock and David Wells). Relievers Mike Stanton and John Franco are also regulars.
April 15, 2003 -- Jason Giambi files his 2002 tax return, listing brother Jeremy, as well as the rest of the A's roster, as dependents.
May 1 -- The Barry Bonds candy bar is introduced in San Francisco. When fans open it up, the bar tells them how good it is. The candy is pulled off the shelf in September after Bonds finishes his disappointing, 55-homer follow-up season.
May 2 - Animal activists lodge protest against the Giants, claiming homers into McCovey's Cove endanger fish.
May 27 -- Memorial Day. Beaches around the country are disrupted when, in the midst of slapping around beachballs, a baseball game breaks out.
June 15 -- In a road Interleague game in Los Angeles, Yankees third baseman Robin Ventura hits a long home run that injures a robin on the Ventura highway. Coincidence?
June 21 -- Toy giant FAO Schwartz announces a new promotion: Buy any bobblehead doll, get free tickets to a baseball game.
July 10 -- The Texas Rangers storm to a 65-22 record at the All-Star Break, a pace better than the 2001 Seattle Mariners. Carl Everett and John Rocker lead the way. Fans are so smitten with the pair, they snap up "Dynamic Duo" T-shirts, depicting the pair in Batman and Robin garb.
July 30 -- The Yankees shed payroll in July on the advice of new Assistant GM G. Costanza. Shortstop Derek Jeter, the only original left from the 2000 World Series Champions, goes on Saturday Night Live and demands to be traded to a contender.
Aug. 12 -- Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon, in an effort to complete his base collection, steals second base, third base and home plate in an Interleague game vs. the Indians. The bases are auctioned off on MLB.com, but no one bids.
Aug. 30 -- In a father-son softball tournament, Phil Niekro and son Lance -- a Giants prospect -- start a brawl when Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. are injured swinging at a softball knucklers.
Sept. 9 -- Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki plays a drive off the right-field wall of SAFECO Field and throws a bullet to second base. When he realizes no one's covering the base, he dashes in, catches his throw and applies the tag.
Oct. 26 -- In a seven-game World Series, the Montreal Expos squeak by the Minnesota Twins, behind former Twins manager Tom Kelly.
Ken Mandel is a writer/editor for MLB.com. Tom Singer, site reporter, contributed to these predictions.
Baseball's retired Iron Man will return in 2002.