Monday, October 02, 2006

MLB Playoff Predictions: Or, How Much More Can Yankee Fans Hate A-Rod?

Gotta love the so-called experts when they come out with these predictions. Hell, at least we're nowhere near "so-called experts", other than to alert the Gambling Community that everyone's favorite baseball announcer (Well, other than Steve Lyons) Chris Berman has been at the mike for the Division Series of the World Series winner in each of the past three seasons. You'd have to think that ends this year as he and Orel Hershiser have the Cardinals/Padres series. Anyhow, here's how things will go over the next few weeks, along with how we think they should (read: WANT) finish. Oh, and you are aware our fingers were pressed firmly on the sarcasm button when we said "favorite" and "announcer" with the words Berman and Lyons, right?

Yanks over Tigers in 4. This one will be closer than everyone thinks. Not even A-Rod living inside his own head as he does every October can stop the Yanks from getting past a team that couldn't even win ONE game from the lowly Royals...when all they had to win was one game to avoid even starting this series in New York. Could have had the A's at Comerica with (PERFECT WORLD: Tigers in 3 of course, while A-Rod goes something like 10 for 14 in the sweep and tells every reporter, "Hey, I sure did all I could, didn't I? How are your kids doing?")

Twins over A's in 4. The Domers are on too big of a role, they have Johan rested and ready, and they'll probably only need him for one game (I don't know how in the hell the A's can steal one in the Minny-Apple, although I was actually at the only ALDS game in 2002 that they did win at the Dome, with Zito pitching and Jermaine Dye homering). But these A's don't have Dye and out of all of their teams that have made the playoffs this decade, this Twins team can actually hit the ball. Plus we're picking the Twins in 4 because it'll play nicely into how we see the next round going. (PERFECT WORLD: Either team in five. Seriously, I'd be happy with either team moving on, the Twins are such a great story just because their success shuts all Royals fans up who say small market teams can't win, as are the A's, and it'd be nice to see one of Billy Beane's team advance once).

Twins over Yankees in 5. Follow us here. The Twins would have a rested Johan in game 1, which they could steal in the Bronx. They'd probably get blown out in game two by the Yanks, but then they'd have three straight at the Dome, where they could have Johan close things out in game 5. The only thing that worries me about this prediction: As big a choke artist as A-Rod's been in October, he actually tore things up in the Dome for the Yanks in the 2004 ALDS. This could be the series that he finally breaks loose. But we're banking on A-Rod being A-Rod here, and the New York media blaming him for another disappointing Yankee run in the post-season. And lost in all the shuffle is that Mike Mussina, who came to the Yankees wanting nothing but a World Series ring, would leave the team without one. (PERFECT WORLD: Pretty much what I just described)

Cardinals over Padres in 5. Really, both NLDS matchups should be the best of the bunch. The Cards get to throw Carpenter twice, and the Padres have Jake Peavy, David Wells and Woody Williams. They also have Chan Ho Park, who knew? I'm going with the Cards simply because they have the best clutch player in the game at the moment in some guy named Pooholtz or PooJolz or something. He's going to be the difference, he's just that kind of player. But nothing in this series would surprise me. (PERFECT WORLD: Padres advancing, because I already know Tony LaRussa's a vegetarian and an alleged genius. It'd be nice for the baseball world to learn more about Trevor Hoffman and company. But the Cards advancing would make my dear friend Angela and everyone at Deadspin really happy.)

Dodgers over Mets in 5. I don't see how the Dodgers lose this series. The get to throw a legitimate Cy Young Candidate in Game 1 (Derek Lowe) and a rested Hall of Famer in Game 2 (Greg Maddux, who gets to go up against Tom Glavine in a game to could seriously have Leo Mazzone rock right out of his rocker). Don't let the "Maddux can't win in the post-season" myth fool you. He could pitch -- he just could NEVER pitch on three days rest, and those are the games that make his post-season record look less than stellar. Boby Cox, as Keith Olbermann has famously pointed out, used Glavine and Maddux on three days rest far too often, and that's why a lot of those Braves teams had their runs stopped far too early. If Grady Little uses Mad Dog on longer rest -- and I know that's a lot to ask for -- the Dodgers could go places. The Mets without Pedro and a suddenly mortal David Wright aren't scaring anybody. There's always a chance that Carlos Beltran could turn into the Carlos Beltran of the 2004 playoffs when he was an Astro, but there's also a chance Sean Salisbury has a coke problem, the way he acts on TV. I'm betting (and hoping) for the latter. (PERFECT WORLD: The Mets with Pedro in 5 because Pedro just makes October baseball that much more entertaining. And Salisbury getting busted by the worldwide leader with blow.)

Dodgers over Cardinals in 7. Remember, the Cards would get home field advantage in this series because the Dodgers are the Wild Card and the Cardinals believe it or not actually got credit for winning a division! Again, we realize another risky pick as the manager in the Los Angeles dugout is none other than Grady F. Little, and just for a little karma he's got a couple of 2003 Red Sox in Lowe and Nomar to remind him of things like pitch counts and the like. The Cards would get four games at the new Busch (Beavis laughter inserted here), but who knows what sort of state their pitching would be in. It'd still be fun to see old footage of the "Go Crazy Folks" Ozzie Smith homer and the Jack Clark home run while Pedro Guerrero throws his glove on the ground before the ball's even left the ballpark from the last time these two teams met in the NLCS. Oh this has to happen just for those reasons alone. Not even being a Cardinal fan, those are still two of my favorite post-season baseball moments (especially the Pedro Guerrero and the tossing of his glove video, which never seems to get nearly enough play as it should, somebody get this one on youtube STAT). Plus Tom Niedenfuer would have horrible flashbacks. By the way, there's also a wicked rumor going around that Fox could use Dusty Baker as their 3rd man in the booth for this series. (PERFECT WORLD: Tommy Lasorda having a heart attack at some point during the series and Pujols becoming the first player from a losing team since Jeffrey Leonard of the Giants to win the NLCS on a losing team. Leonard did so against the Cards that year by the way. Hell, we'd still be happy if St. Louis advances if only to keep that silly little Berman streak I mentioned earlier alive).

Twins over Dodgers in 7. The AL has home field advantage, which means four games could be played in that godforsaken dome. Just like in 1987 and 1991, the Twins will win all four home games in that dump and lose three on the road. The sight of Noh-mah and Lowe in the World Series will be just enough to cause Red Sawk Nation to panic. If the Twins have the magic left arm of one Johan Santana, to paraphrase that master spokesman Steven A.F. Smith, quite frankly, that's all you need. And no matter what Bud Selig or anyone in baseball says, this matchup would actually be good for ratings. History suggests that a matchup between a team from either the East or West Coast against a Midwest team equals decent ratings. In fact, the highest rated World Series ever was the 1980 Fall Classic that saw my beloved Royals fall to the Phillies. There's no doubt in my mind that had the 2004 series lasted longer, even in the age of 576 channels, that number would have been even higher. But screw ratings, we're predicting a team that Selig wanted to contract out of the game less than 5 years ago to win the whole thing, and nobody's laughing at that suggestion. (PERFECT WORLD: The Royals would have drafted Pujols in the 12th round of the 1999 draft, they'd have him at first, still have the OF of Damon, Dye and Beltran, and they could have at least made this years playoffs. Hell, one of their worst teams ever ruined the Tigers season on the last weekend, is what I suggested to much to have really happened? Actually, a Twins title would be fine, you betcha!)

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