Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Major League Baseball Playoff Preview


There are many reasons to watch the 2008 Major League Baseball playoffs with great interest. None of which include the fact that we finally have a post-season without the Yankees. Or Jose Guillen for that matter, which really pisses me off (but if you don't think a Royals fan can be overly excited for a 2009 season featuring The Mexicutioner, Zack Greinke and the enigma that is Guillen, well then you probably don't care about that shit that James Earl Jones says about hope in baseball). Here's what really has us excited about this post-season:

  • Harold Reynolds: Lost in the big mystery about why Harold was let go from ESPN is , he's really fucking good on television when talking baseball. TBS has let Harold do some in studio work (as in the All-Star Selection show) and be the color guy (like he did tonight for the White Sox/Twins AL Central tie breaker). And he's good at wherever they put him. I know Tim McCarver has his critics (we'll get to him later), but seriously, over the past 10 years, who's been better on television covering all things baseball? We're glad HR is back with TBS's under-rated coverage of the playoffs. He'll make staying up late for a West Coast game worthwhile. Famously harassed a woman on a flight to Omaha into marrying him because "she had nowhere else to go."

  • Dick Stockton: Mostly known for his NFL and NBA work, but let's face it, he's as good as it gets for play-by-play. Also married to Lesley Visser, who was the Erin Andrews of her era. Stockton did the Twins/Chisox game tonight with Harold. If you can't enjoy Stockton providing your play-by-play, there's no hope for you. Probably means you don't watch Mad Men either, which is what this blog is more or less going to be all about over the next month, and that would mean we don't like you.

  • The Cubs Factor: Good God, is there a more nervous bunch of perennial favorites going into the post-season than Cubs fans? The Cubs finish an incredible season and have home field advantage through the National League, and you won't find a more rabid bunch of folks looking for Steve Bartman's head if Derek Lowe shuts them down in Game 1 of the NLDS. But I still say there's a conspiracy factor in place about MLB scheduling those September Cubs/Astros games at Miller Park, close enough for Cubs fans to travel in droves, as it became clear that the Yankees were going to miss the October parade. I wonder who Bud Selig would really root for in a Brewers/Cubs NLCS.

  • Manny Ramirez: You really want to rain on a Red Sox fan parade? Suggest a Red Sox/Dodgers World Series, with Manny coming back to Fenway for Games 1 and 2. That's a long way from happening, but consider that Manny will be at Wrigley for at least 2 games, and he's suddenly woken up since the trade to Los Angeles. Is there a better first round series than the Dodgers/Cubs series, even if the Dodgers got in by playing in such a weak division (as Hank Steinbrenner would like to remind anyone and everyone)? Has parlayed the whole "Manny Being Manny" myth into a justifyication in wearing uniform number 99 with the Dodgers.

  • Joe Torre: This is the 14th straight year that Torre has managed a team to the post-season. And he's on the Veteran's Ballot for next year's Hall of Fame vote. And in case you haven't heard, they're tearing down the old Yankee Stadium. Torre is likely going to get in the Hall, and go in as a Yankee. What if he brings some of that playoff magic he had during that late 1990's run with the Yankees? What if Torre and Manny start the World Series at Fenway? Torre knew what he was getting into when he took the Dodgers gig. He had the chance to win the weakest divsion in baseball, and then got Manram gift wrapped to him at the trade deadline. And if he somehow punks the Cubs and the Brewers/Phillies winner, what does the Yankee brass think? This is now the third different franchise Torre's led to the playoffs. But the Yankees think they're better off without him.

  • Lou Piniella: Sweet Lou took a lot of (deserved) heat for the way he handled Carlos Zambrano during last year's Division Series. Like Torre, this is also the third franchise Lou's brought to the post-season dance, but anything less than a World Series at Wrigley is considered a failure. And imagine if Lou takes them there, but faces the one team that he couldn't get over the hump in Tamp Bay...

  • Kerry Wood: It's now been ten years since Wood pitched what has to be one of the all-time greatest games, when he struck out 20 Astros on that chilly day in Chicago. He's now the team's closer, but a 9th inning with Wood coming in to protect a one-run lead had more drama than Don Draper talking his way back into Betty's bed on Mad Men. And this is now Kerry Wood's 4th trip to the post-season with the Cubs, which is something sort of a miracle.

  • CC Sabathia: He could very well start every game in the post-season and nobody would be surprised. And if the Brewers get past the Phillies, you're sure to see a "Sabathia signs with the Yankees for 7 years/$140 million" before December headline. Also: Fat.

  • Jamie Moyer: He's 46 years old, which means he's the same age as John Slattery, who plays Roger Sterling on Mad Men. I figured Slattery was easily in his 50's. If the Phillies are down 0-2 to the Brewers, they'll be counting on Moyer to bring them back to life. Is married to the daughter of Digger Phelps, which doesn't win him any fans. And he's also older than...

  • Greg Maddux: This story from bleedcubbieblue.com sums up all you need to know about Maddux: "'Watch this, we might need to call an ambulance for the first base coach.' On the very next pitch Hernandez drove a line drive into the chest of the first base coach, who, fortunately, wasn't seriously hurt. John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Kent Mercker and others sitting around were needless to say completely freaked out. Maddux explained that Hernandez had been jammed inside by Braves pitchers for the whole series and he could tell from the shift in his batting stance he was going to rip one towards the first base coach's box." Would rather be playing golf with John Smoltz and Tom Glavine right now than worrying about whether or not he's on the Dodger's post-season roster.

  • Brett Myers: Beats his wife; Was sent to the minors mid-season, and is somehow now considered a feel-good story regarding the Phillies; Again: Beats his wife. The worst thing we can come up about Zack Greinke is that he thinks Brad Pitt's acting career peaked with Legends of the Fall. And we're supposed to root for Brett Fucking Myers?

  • Ken Griffey, Jr.: I could really care less whether he plays in a World Series. Seems to live off the fact that he's more "user friendly" than the more talented Barry Bonds, but everyone glosses over what a dick he's been. One can't help but realize the similarites between Griffey finally getting post-season glory to when Frank Thomas had to sit on the bench when the White Sox finally won their title in 2005. Reds fans are secretly hoping he breaks his leg.

  • A.J. Pierzynski: Confirmed prick, but very proud of it. He will undoutbedly be a part of some sort of bizarre controversy, one that will make Dick Vitale shout for 10 straight minutes next Monday on ESPN's Mike & Mike Radio Show.

  • Jermaine Dye: One of my all-time favorite former Royals, who I once went out of my way to heckle until acknowledgement because I was pissed he was traded for Michael Tucker. Has a bizarre scar on his face that makes him even more likable. If he were playing right field for Boston, there would be Hall of Famer stories written about him.

  • The Rays: Not really the "feel good" story everyone wants you to believe. If they were so "feel good", the Trop would sell out every game and they'd have somebody other than Dick Vitale as their spokesperson. A real "feel good" story would be Zack Greinke starting Game 1 of the ALDS for the Royals, more worried about Brad Pitt and the box office for Burn Before Reading and the Mexicutioner ready to save the day. There's really nothing to like about the "Devil" Rays.

  • <Ozzie Guillen: The world would have been better off with his team blowing the game tonight against the Twins. Now MLB has to worry about a possible Rays/Angels ALCS. Without Jay Mariotti to kick around, what can Ozzie give us?

  • Josh Beckett: Is hurting more than Bosox fans want you to believe, but now that the Red Sox have become the Yankees, who cares? Also: White Trash.

  • Neil Diamond: Penned a song about Caroline Kennedy that has become a Fenway Park anthem, and is wondering when all of the residuals kick in; Probably wondering why the Reds never adoped "Crackin' Rosie"; hates Saving Silverman, and wonders why his management staff let him appear in the movie.

  • Mike Scoisscia: Is hated by one Jose Guillen, which makes him public enemy number one one our list; gets credit for being a good manager despite the fact he works for an owner who over-pays for talent; Also: fat.

  • Francisco Rodriguez: Just a little too eager to own one of the most over-rated records in all of sports; Like CC, is playing for a big-time contract, which the Yankees will be happy to pay him; Like Stallone, probably doesn't need to wear those glasses.

  • Torii Huner: Is secretly laughing at everyone who thinks he needs that extra "i" at the end of his first name; Has agreed to blog this post-season at mlblog.com, and has Rob Neyer pulling hairs over the fact that he still doesn't draw enough walks in the "Moneyball" era.

  • Prince Fielder: Hates his dad, who was a very good player for some very bad teams; Subscribes to what the common folk refer to as a vegan lifestyle. Despite all of that, still: fat.

  • The Brewers "Now or Never" Stance: You have to at least admire what the Brewers are doing with their "All In" policy here. They fired their manager with less than two weeks to go in the season. They've asked poor CC to pitch every other day. Their team very well could look worse than your 2007-09 Kansas City Royals. And here they are, in the post-season. Considering this is the first time since 1982 the Brew Crew has made the play-offs, even if they get swept by the Phillies this is worth it.

  • Brad Lidge: Francisco has been getting all of the press, but the best reliever (other than the Mexicutioner of course) in baseball in 2008 has been one Brad Lidge. He'll get no Cy Young support, even though he should be the clear winner of that award. Lidge had an incredible season for Philadelphia, but everyone's memory of Lidge is that playoff monster he gave up to Albert Pujulos a few years ago.

  • Jon Lester: Sure he survived lymphoma, and will start Game 1 of the ALDS against the Angels. I love this from wikipedia regarding his no-hitter against the Royals this year: " It was also only the second no-hitter ever pitched against the Royals". I'm still trying to figure out what's worse: The fact that the Mets have never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter; or that the Royals have only been no-hit twice in their rich history.

  • Terry Francona: Yankee fan thinks more of him than they do of Torre, despite the fact that Torre won four titles for the Yanks but Francona has won two in Boston. Is never going to stop chewing tobacco, and considering that Curt Schilling simply refuses to stop blogging, who can blame him?

  • David Ortiz: The most beloved Red Sox player of the past 25 years, despite the fact that he has no business even trying to play first base should they make the World Series; Misses Manny Ramirez more than he'll ever admit; despite the cries of Bosox fans, is not getting close to Cooperstown, no matter how much he smiles for Bob Costas during interviews.

  • Jason Bay: Wondering why he still has to play games into October; Hits his knees every night that he's no longer a Pittsburgh Pirate; wonders why Dan Shaughnessy follows him around everyday.

  • Cal Ripken, Jr.: Still pissed that brother Billy has the baseball card where he's holding a bat that has "Fuck Face" on the end of the bat; wishes Dennis Eckersley would start drinking again if only to add to the TBS studio crew's broadcast; secretly texting messages to Derek Jeter about missing the post-season for the first time in his career.

  • Chip Carey: Is never going to make anyone forget about Harry or Skip; despises the fact that everyone wishes Stockton could do play-by-play for every game; understands that anyone who willingly goes by the name of "Chip" is instantly hated.

  • Tim McCarver: Despite his critics, is an extremely competent analyst; told Bob Gibson a hitter was "colored", only to have Gibby reply, "What color is he?"; has to share a little too much time with Joe Buck over the next four weeks, which gives him a pass; famously called out the Yankee's wrong defensive shift in the 9th inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.

  • The "Windy City" Series Element: More likley to happen than one might think. The White Sox get to play a DEVIL Rays team in over their heads and the Cubbies have that home field advantage through the NLCS. In an election year that saw the heavily favored Diamondbacks miss the playoffs, what would an all-Chicago series do for Obama's chances right before the election?
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