Monday, October 03, 2005

October is the season for baseball

Now it’s time to play some baseball. The playoffs are here and looking back on my predictions from a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t do too badly. I got 7 of the 8 teams correct. The only team that I picked that didn’t make it was Cleveland, which meant Chicago did make it to the postseason.

I predicted Chicago would totally collapse and the Indians would win the Central division and that Boston or New York would win the AL Wild Card. I was wrong about which team would collapse. After tearing up the AL since August the Indians just ran out of gas and got swept out of the playoff hunt by the White Sox scrubs.

Now that I owned up to my one bad pick, it’s time for me to break down the postseason and give you a World Series Champ. In breaking down this postseason, I will be doing so with the least amount of research that can be done. Most of this is from my gut. Please no wagering on my picks.

Note: I am making these predictions before the first game of the playoffs, so don’t think I am trying to get a leg up by watching a couple of games before I make my choices.

Let’s begin with the National League first, the Houston Astros will take on the Atlanta Braves in round one of the Division playoffs. I like the Astros because they have got Roger Clemens on the staff, not to mention Andy Petitte and Roy Oswalt. The Braves have also got a very good rotation, but they do not have a legitimate closer, while the Astros have Brad Lidge.

The Astros have trouble scoring more than 2 runs a game, (just ask Clemens about that), but I believe they will score enough to get to Lidge in the 8th or 9th inning and shut down the Braves in 6 games. Besides, everyone knows the Braves will exit early in the playoffs.

The next series in the National League is between the San Diego Padres and the St. Louis Cardinals. This will be easy. The Padres finished the season just two games over .500 while competing in the worst division in baseball. The Cardinals are the best ream in baseball, period. The Cardinals win this series easily. Cardinals fans, get your brooms out, this will be a sweep.

Let’s move to the American League, where things could get interesting. The Boston Red Sox will be taking on the Chicago White Sox in the first round. While the White Sox did lose a huge lead to the Cleveland Indians over the last two months, they still finished with the best record in the American League and finished strong by beating the Indians in their last three games.

The Boston Red Sox were in the playoff battle to the end and slipped into the playoffs as the AL Wild Card. I do not like the Red Sox pitching, it is has been unreliable for the last few months. The only problem with that is that the White Sox starters haven’t been setting the world on fire. I think that even though both staffs stink right now, Curt Schilling and David Wells will step it up for the postseason and with the Red Sox offense led by “Big Papi” David Ortiz, the Red Sox will win in 6 games.

The last series in the first round could be the best of the bunch. The New York Yankees will be taking on the California Angels. The Angels have a great pitching staff and bullpen and they have a potent lineup as well. The Angels’ Vlad Guerrero is a player that is capable of carrying a team by himself and Bartolo Colon could be the best pitcher in the American League. The Yankees pitching staff is hit and miss, although I would be more than willing to take my chances with Randy Johnson and closer Mariano Rivera anytime. The Yanks’ lineup is the best in the American League.

The last time these two teams met in the postseason, the Angels walked away with the win and then the World Series. This time I believe that while the Angels have Geurrero and the better starting pitching, the Yankees have the best lineup and will batter the Angels starters. The Yankees’ starters will be passable and hold on until they can bring in Rivera to close things down because let’s face it, he’s automatic.

The Yankees take this series in 6 games and go on to face the Red Sox in another postseason classic. The Red Sox and the Yankees are not that great, but they are better than the rest in the American League.

I also think that fate has a lot to do with this match up occurring every year. Even if you hate both teams, there is always a huge level of excitement when they hook up, even in the first week of the regular season.

This is to me, a toss up, considering the season series was pretty even with the Red Sox winning 8 and the Yankees winning 10 of 18. These two teams will be coming into this meeting after two tough series, but I believe both teams will be ready to battle. I see this series going the full 7 games and should be another exciting chapter in the Yankees-Red Sox feud.

I hate both pitching staffs and it will come down to the offense and the fact that the Red Sox do not have a closer. The Yankees will end up beating the Sox in 7 games only because Mariano Rivera shuts down any chance the Sox have for a late inning comeback. Rivera will be the MVP of this series. The Yankees will be back in the World Series. Whoop de doo.

The National League championship series will not be quite as exciting. The Cardinals and the Astros have played 16 times in the regular season with the Cardinals winning 11 of 16. The Cardinals are just too tough for the Astros. The Astros, even though they will beat the Braves, still cannot score any runs and the Cardinals have pitching, defense, and hitting. That means the Cardinals will win this series in 5 games and go on to the World Series to face the Yankees in what is the best match up TV could hope for.

The Cardinals will remember what happened last season when they were dominated by the Red Sox. The Red Sox were the better team last year and with their emotion they got from beating their most hated rival, they were not going to be denied. This season will be a different story.

The Cardinals will win the World Series this year. The Yankees can win it, but the Cardinals have the only lineup that can rival the Yanks. The Cardinals have the better starting pitching. The Yankees have the better closer with Rivera, but the Cardinals have the better overall bullpen. I believe both managers, LaRussa for the Cards and Joe Torre for the Yanks, are good managers that will cancel each other out at the end of the day.

Both teams have the talent to win this thing, but in my gut I have to go with the Cardinals because I believe that the Cardinals good starting pitching combined with the Yankees middling middle relief will be the difference in this series.

I expect the St. Louis Cardinals to be crowned World Series Champions in 6 games with Albert Pujols as the MVP. The big problem with this scenario is that it turns my stomach to say it with me being a Cincinnati Reds fan.

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