Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Beisbol

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord, although I haven't been waiting for this moment all my life. Act like you've been here before is my motto.

The MLB Playoffs kick off today, with the first of three division series games getting started at 1 PM today. This postseason is going to be every bit as good as last season's incredible October, that much I will guarantee you. As much as I love the beginning of football season, it's time to pay attention, folks.

I'd love to say that I'm not more nervous than in previous years, but that would be a lie. The Yankees are certainly a hot team right now, and I have no fear that they'll beat the Twins in four games tops. But there are some strong teams on the bottom half of the bracket, and either the Angels or the Red Sawx can present some big time problems for this year's team. But let's not put the cart ahead of the horse, or pull a Tracy McGrady and start talking about making it to the next round. For now, we've got a big series with the Twins and the league's best pitcher this season to look forward to.

Strangely though, instead of watching tonight's ridiculous Game 1 match-up of the probable AL Cy Young winner Johan Santana versus a rejuvenated Mike Mussina, I'll be checking out Wilco at Radio City Music Hall. Wilco? Why am I seeing a band I don't have a deep-rooted passion for instead of watching the first game of a big set with the Twinkies? I'm not really sure, but I'm definitely confident in my decision. My buddy Rice-a-Roni Chucky (also a die-hard Yankee fan) has had these tickets for quite some time, and since I've always wanted to check these guys out and since Charles is moving to San Francisco for good next week, I figure this will be a quality going away party for the two of us. At one point today, Donnie was giving me some shit as a joke and I questioned the decision, but now I'm back on board. Plus, after seeing The Selfish Trey Anastasio Band and String Cheese Incident there (separately), Radio City's a pretty cool fuckin' place to view a concert. So we'll have to rely on Chucky's Blackberry and pray it's a 0-0 tie until we get out of the show.

Regardless of my absence from the television tonight, I'm really psyched up about these playoff series. So here's my dime-store analysis of these match-ups and my predictions:

Yankees v. Twins
I don't see this series being nearly as close as most pundits have been suggesting. Do the Twins play the game "the right way" (I fuckin' hate that buzzword, goddamn Larry Brown)? Yes, they do. Do they have the best pitcher in the game? Yes, they do. Are they a cohesive unit and not a collection of superstars? Yes, they are. Do they scare me one fuckin' iota, even Santana? Not one fuckin' iota.

I think not only are the Yankees going to beat up on the Twins, but they're going to take the fight to Santana as well. The guy is incredible, and the second half of his season was arguably one of the best seasons in the last 25 years of baseball. After the All-Star break he went 13-0 with a 1.18 ERA, giving up more than one earned run only three times in 15 starts. Even better, his road ERA is below 3.00, he struck out 265 batters this season and his opponents' batting average was .192. Um, that's fucking awesome. But I'll take Jeter and Sheff over Torii Hunter and Shannon Stewart, Moose and Mo over Brad Radke and Joe Nathan, the middle relief of Gordon and Quantrill over Juan Rincon and J.C. Romero and all the other postseason intangibles the veteran Yankees hold over the Twins.

This one to me isn't even close, I'll take the Yankees in 4 games, tops.

Angels v. Red Sawx
This is a five-game series, no question about it, and like I said above, both teams worry the crap out of me. But instead of breaking this game down, let me just point you to the Sports Guy's article today, which explains this series in pretty good detail. I agree with most of what he says...My only problem with the SG's analysis is that he totally discounts just how hot the Angels are right now. Sure, maybe they only beat three weak Texas pitchers and then took four of six from a struggling A's team, but they gained confidence from those games that cannot even be matched. Just watch any one of those games and you'll see how pumped the Angels are right now. As much as I'd like to see a rematch of last year's ALCS, I think it's the Angels that win in five, not the Sawx.

Astros v. Braves
I love the Astros story. The hometown team was getting booed at the All Star game. They were out of it in August! Then all of a sudden they ripped off an incredible 37 wins in their final 47 games, including 18 straight in the bandbox back home in Houston. That is nothing short of unbelievable. Throw in the fact that Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt are two of the best pitchers in the National League right now, and you've got yourself a Astros series win.

But as Lee Corso says, "Not so fast my friend." Not only are the Braves playing great ball right now, led by...wait, who the fuck is on this team? How did this team make the playoffs? These guys fuckin' suck on paper. Name one guy on the Atlanta roster you'd take over either Beltran, Berkman, Kent, Bagwell, Biggio, Clemens, Oswalt, Lidge. Seriously. Name one guy.

The main difference in the teams is Bobby Cox, the best manager in the game over the last decade-plus. He has taken some good teams and made them great, he's taken some mediocre teams and made them good, and this year he took a third- or fourth-place team and made them into, what else, division champs again. Despite all that managing, he can't play the games, and this Atlanta team just cannot hang with this talented Astros squad. They just can't, even when you look at the individual Astros' postseason numbers and the fact that Houston hasn't ever won a playoff series. This is a Houston sweep, or maybe a four-game series. But look out for Houston, who will without a doubt be in the World Series. This is Florida from last year: strong start, abysmal middle, firing the manager, rallying around the new one, streaking into the playoffs with good pitching and a solid lineup. Look out AL teams, this is the team you'll be seeing in a few weeks.

Dodgers v. Cardinals
Here's the short, short version ('cuz now I'm really, really hungry and I want lunch): This is going to be the surprise series of the early rounds...I think the Dodgers jump out to an early lead by winning the first game, but then get absolutely hammered by the tough Cards lineup in the next two. Los Angeles takes the next game but goes down like Bush's post-debate numbers in five games.

The bracket should like something like this:

Division Series
Yankees over Twins, 4 games
Angels over Red Sawx, 5 games
Astros over Braves, 3-4 games
Cardinals over Dodgers, 5 games

League Championship Series
Yankees over Angels, 6 games
Astros over Cardinals, 6 games

World Series
Yankees over Astros, 5 games

And welcome back, Clemens and Pettitte. We've missed you. One guy I thought I would never miss is Tim McCarver...but in a weird way, I'm looking forward to a postseason full of "Sliiiider, wiiiider sliiiider, spliiiitter in the dirrrt, awaaaay, wiiiiider sliiiider, even wiiiiider sliiiider." It's a strange day when I'm looking forward to Timmy M's awful voice.

Here's an unrelated-to-baseball, yet awesome little story about some dude's luck meeting MJ.

3 Comments:

At 1:27 PM, Blogger Bart Starbux said...

I think Mulgrew is the real-life Ignatious J. Reilly. Thoughts?

 
At 1:33 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Sadly, I don't get it.

 
At 6:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the thought has crossed my mind. it's those unbridled carnal urges, i think. aren't we literary.

 

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