Not much time to write, nor will I get to watch any of the baseball playoffs until Saturday afternoon at the earliest, but as an avid baseball fan I wanted to throw out my predictions for the Divisional Round that starts tomorrow.
Tampa Bay over Chicago in 4
Despite their status as Barack Obama’s favourite team, I don’t have a lot of love for the White Sox (their 2005 team has to be the worst world series champion in my memory).
Hey, did you know this is Ken Griffey Jr.‘s first time in the playoffs since 1997? My how his career took a turn for the worse after the trade to Cincinnati.
I would have liked the odds of the ChiSox’s winning better had they not been forced to use Gavin Floyd and John Danks – arguably their two best starters down the stretch – in a makeup game Monday and a tiebreaker tonight. That leaves Javy Vasquez, who has been brutal down the stretch, to start Game 1 against James “Don’t Call Me Jamie” Shields, and Mark Buehrle in a tough Game 2 outing against Scott “Jewel of” Kazmir. Floyd figures to pitch Game 3 Sunday against Matt Garza, who will either throw a gem or get shelled and be pulled within the first 3-4 innings.
Add in the strong Rays’ offense, which could be bolstered by the return of Carl Crawford, and this looks like a tough draw for Chicago. Unless you put a premium on playoff experience, I don’t see a lot of weaknesses in this Rays’ club.
But somebody should wake up the fans in Tampa and remind them that they are watching a championship-caliber team. For a team this good, Montreal would be drawing 30,000 a game with no problem.
Boston Red Sox of Boston over Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 5
Were I not a Sox fan, I’d pick the Angels in 5, but I have to go with my boys to pull this one out despite questions about their middle relief, and the health of JD Drew and Mike Lowell. Now, if Josh Beckett can’t go in Game 3, then….we have a problem. No Beckett, no chance in all likelihood.
Thing is, though they’re not as good as the ’07 championship team, there is still enough talent there to win 3 of 5 against anyone. I’m calling a K-Rod blown save in Game 2, and an Angels meltdown in Game 3 to turn this one around. Lackey will win Game 4 in Fenway, but Dice-K steals one on the road in Game 5.
Brewers over Phillies in 5
If the Brewers remind me of anyone, it’s the 1995 Seattle Mariners (except that Seattle got hot down the stretch and made up almost 15 games against the Angels, while the Brewers stumbled down the stretch, and were saved by CC Sabathia’s superhuman effort, and the Mets’ even greater collapse).
But in form, they’re quite similar. They have a dominant left-handed power pitcher (Randy Johnson/CC Sabathia), and a slugging young lineup that has people buzzing. And, just like how the Mariners never lived up to their potential and got over the hump, neither will the Brewers.
Still, as much as the Brewers strike me as underachievers, the Phillies do more so. Cole Hamels is an ace, and Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley are two of the best at their respective positions. But Brett Myers has been abysmal his last two starts, and even though he’s been perfect to date, I don’t trust Brad Lidge not to blow a save at some point.
So…Phillies take Game 1 behind a commanding Hamels performance. Sabathia dominates Game 2. They split in Milwaukee and Sabathia pitches the Brewers to victory in Game 5. Upon which they will proceed to the NLCS and get crushed by whoever wins the Cubs/Dodgers series.
Dodgers over Cubs in 5
Hey, did you know that October 14 is the 100th anniversary of the Cubs’ last world series-clinching win? Expect to hear lots about it in the next week. Also, the Dodgers have won one playoff game since 1988. Expect to hear less about that.
The Cubs are the class of the NL, despite their lack of a left-handed bat. The Dodgers came on strong after the Manny Ramirez trade and the Jeff Kent injury. Both teams have questions…Harden’s speed is down, and Zambrano has been shaky his last couple of outings. Meanwhile, Saito doesn’t look like himself and Furcal may or may not be ready to go.
In any case, either team could bomb and go out in 3, or could go on to win the World Series. Really, anything could happen with either of these teams and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. Peter Gammons was bullish on the Dodgers, so I’m going to give the edge to them based on that.
Storylines you will get tired of this round:
1. The Cubs’ 100 year drought.
2. Where will Sabathia sign?
3. Is this the year Ozzie Guillen finally snaps?