Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Playoffs? Don't Talk About Playoffs!

I can't think of a baseball postseason since the dawn of the new millenium that wasn't off-the-charts incredible. So for this year, I've ordered new charts.

We've experienced the unforgettable Subway Series in 2000, the post-9/11 Yankees' comebacks against the rent-a-champion Diamondbacks in 2001, the NoCal vs. SoCal/Bonds vs. Rally Monkey World Series in 2002, the incredible division series round in 2003 leading up to the seven-game Yanks/Sawx ALCS, and of course, last year's unbelievable shennanigans, which I'm not sure even happened. Nope, this just in: never happened.

Anyone who says "Baseball is dead" is either not paying attention or suffering from a slight brain hemorrhage. The sport may not be our national pastime anymore -- and I'm okay with that -- but if you're not paying attention after that amazing regular season and race into September, you might as well cross yourself off my Christmas card list right now. 'Cuz there ain't nothing quite like baseball in October.

And this year we've been fortunate enough to witness one of the greatest regular seasons in recent memory. You wanna talk salary cap and parity and how well the NFL runs its league? Try this: With just two weeks left in the season, more than half of MLB's 30 teams had a legit shot to make the playoffs, and in baseball, that means more than half had a shot to win the World Series. In mid-September. Compare that to other sports and feel free to jam this "Yankees are ruining baseball" stick right in your own eye.

Three races came down to the very last weekend of the season. The Injuns did their best Schiavo imitation and shit the bed, while the Yanks got to celebrate their eighth straight division title on their rival's home field, returning (in small part) the favor from last year's ALCS. The Sawx managed to sneak into the playoffs, though, and the possibility of a third consecutive NYY/BOS championship looms for the nation at large.

I'm almost too excited for this postseason. I can't take muh more of this. Even the 11/9/98 mushroom trip from hell wasn't this stomach-turning and intense. So I may just remove myself from the fray and root for baseball to win. Yeah, that'll happen. So I guess what I'm really looking forward to is making fun of Tim McCarver for three weeks straight -- nothing like the pitch by pitch sequence: "He starts him out awaaaaay, then a fastball innnn, a sliiiiider, then a wiiiider sliiiider, then an even wiiiider sliiiider for the striiikeout." Tim McCarver, what a douche.

Anyway, onto my 2005 Playoff Predictions:

New York Yankees @ California Angels
Everyone's picking the Angels. Everyone. And I don't think these people are necessarily excited about John Lackey and Jarrod Washburn following Fatnuts Colon, nor are they thrilled with the tepid Angels offense. There are only two Angels that scare me at all -- Vlad and K-Rod. Outside of those two, the other 23 are just like women and children: highly beatable.

People just love to see the Yankees lose, and they love it even more when they're the one to predict it. But these people also forget that the Yanks are the hottest team in baseball, a team that's hitting on all cylindars right now -- the Unit-led pitching staff is red-hot, the lineup is slugging as well as moving guys from station to station and the front of the bullpen is more stable than at any time this season.

Prediction: Yanks in 4

Boston Red Sawx @ Da Chicago White Sox
Comiskey is a true homefield advantage, because there's always a chance Papi will be stabbed with a rusty shiv while he's weaving through the homeless barbeques on the way to the stadium. Maybe Manny will be hit in the right temple with a stray bullet (we can only hope). Other than that, there's nobody on the Red Sawx that can truly control this series...this one's entirely on the White Sox.

It's Podsednik getting on base like early in the season, or Konerko driving in runs, or Contreres pitching true to his September 2005 form, or Bobby "Soul-Glo" Jenks pitching late in games with poise and maturity. Will Damaso Marte match up well against Papi? How will Cliff Politte handle Manny? I don't think this ends well for the Southsiders.

And lemme just say one thing here: Get off the Boston Nuts, folks. Papi's NOT the MVP (he's just not, sorry Yankee-haters), Manny is just being Manny but Manny's a fucking douche, Renteria was a terrible signing, Kevin Millar bangs horses and Wells is going to bow out of a big start with inflamed hemmroids. I can't believe people still like the over-exposed and incredibly saturated Red Sox. I can't believe Americans don't hate them more than the Yanks at this point. They think they're too cool for school, but I have a newsflash for you, Walter Cronkite...they aren't.

Prediction: Sawx in 4

San Diego Padres @ St. Loo Cardinals
I'd love to sit here and say Jake Peavy will win two games and the Pods can squeak out another one somewhere. But that's not going to happen. They're lucky if they get a game.

Sure, Carpenter has been a problem lately, and sure the Cards are banged up, but one team is just so clearly better than the other. And I don't see Albert Pujols bowing out of the playoffs to a team that finished only two games above .500. I see Carpenter winning game one in a pitcher's duel, Mulder taking the second game and the Cards closing it out in Petco in three.

Prediction: I love Brian Giles, but I like the Cards in a sweep.

Houston Astros @ Atlanta Braves
Now this series is interesting -- a young, but extremely talented Braves team led at the top by two experienced pitchers (Smoltz and Hudson) against a veteran wild-card team that's hotter than two rats fuckin' in a wool sock and led at the top by two experienced pitchers (Clemens and Pettitte). But then there's Roy Oswalt right behind them, and he's as capable of throwing a complete-game shutout as anyone else in the ballpark. Houston's also got Brad Lidge for the last few outs, and he's much more reliable than, say, Kyle Farnsworth. I've always been a big fan of Farnsworth -- and if you got points for tackling this guy would be a fantasy monster -- but who knows how he'll react in the postseason.

I'm banking on the fact that Chipper and Andruw will step it up from than their usual .279 postseason batting average. But what the hell do I expect from the 30 rookies on their 25-man roster? Will Langerhans and Franceour continue their brilliance? As for Houston, if Willy Taveras and Craig Biggio can get on base, and I'm betting they will, the red-hot Lance Berkman should be able to drive them home.

Prediction: Astros in 5

NLCS: Cards over Astros in 7
ALCS: Yanks over Sawx in 6
World Series: Yanks over Cards in 5
World Series MVP: Mariano Rivera

And just to show you how bad I am at this, here are my pre-season predictions (hey, I got a few things right, and my World Series of Yanks and Pods is still intact). I live for this!


At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Rashid Muhammad said...

I don't know about the Yanks Ace. The two teams seem pretty evenly matched to me. I picked the Angels because, just like the Yanks, they are hot (19-8 over the last 30 days) but have done it with much better pitching (3.76 vs. 4.48) against a better schedule (which also included a 1-2 set against BOS). Both teams are pretty beatable as far as I can see, that's why I think the LAAoA takes it in 5.

I feel like Langerhans will step it up and if Francoeur hits his weight, his glove can be a difference-maker. The key to Atlanta's offense (as always) is Furcal and Giles but the postseason for Atlanta revolves arund John Smoltz and the 6th - 8th innings. If they find success there, Houston is done. Otherwise, we'll see an NLCS rematch.

At 3:29 PM, Blogger Matty Mac said...

It always comes back to one of the brother Giles....always.

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Snacks said...

"...while the Yanks got to celebrate their eighth straight division title..."

This has been bothering me since Saturday's surprise announcement. It's obviously the rule but it's a very backhanded way of winning a division title. Correct me if I'm wrong but, if at the end of the season, the second place finisher in the AL Central or AL West had a better record than the Yankees and Red Sox, the Yankees do not win the division because of the head to head tiebreaker. They two teams would play on Monday

On the other hand, why play a game when both teams are already in the playoffs? I can understand that rationale but then call them co-division champs.

Merry New Year.

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Rashid, we'll see, and as we saw last night, the Yanks are lookin pretty good. Except for the 9th inning mishaps, that was about as flawless a game as the Yanks could have played. I'd say the only real negative was Sturtze, but that's it.

Snacks, I don't necessarily disagree with that. But, rules are rules are we're recognized as the champs by Major League Baseball. Either way, though, that would be the Yanks' eighth straight division title. It's not like even if they were co-champs they'd just stop saying that. Eight straight.

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Matty Mac said...

The Yankees: God's gift to baseball.

The Red Sawx: Baseball's red-headed stepchildren.

It's all clear to me now. I can't believe I've been a Sawx fan my whole life without realizing this.


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