Before I get to playoff match-ups, I want to say thank you for all the kind words regarding Mike’s season, and that I really don’t know what he is going to do next year. I think he was mentally prepared to retire, but after doing so well, and knowing how close the Hall of Fame is (some people think he’s in already, but who knows) I think it’s going to be hard to walk away. At this point, that’s all I will say about Mike. I don’t want to rile up the haters. They’ve had a tough year as it is. So, on to the playoffs.
Red Sox vs. Angels: Should have been a great match-up, and still promises to be entertaining, but the uncertainty of Beckett really takes something away. The Angels have rolled through a horrible division, but the Beantowners are tough to beat in Fenway. Lester can pitch and Dice-K had the quietest 18-3 year in baseball history. Also, I can’t believe that Lowell and Drew are going to be overly productive, and Boston’s bullpen hasn’t been as lock-down as they have in the past. Sensible minds say take the Angels, but how good will Saunders be? if Boston can get one of the first two on the west coast, games three and four will be classic.
White Sox vs. Rays: If Minnesota would have won, this would be THE Cinderella series. Now, I don’t think anyone outside of Illinois won’t be rooting for the Rays. Come to think of it, half of Illinois will be rooting for the Rays, too. The White Sox have enough bats. The question is, will they hit? Their defense, with Griffey in centerfield, has to bite them at some point. Tampa is for real, but questions at the back of the bullpen and their right handed hitting besides Longoria leaves me wondering. Chicago’s pitchers should be on fumes, but a couple of good lefties (Buerhle and Danks) could give Tampa fits. Tampa has also sat around for three days without a game. Did they need the rest or will it create rust. Personally, I can’t wait to see the dome packed and rowdy. Could you imagine a game five in Tampa? How about Ozzie doing a Woody Hayes on Carlos Pena as he headed for home with the winning run? Or maybe he punches Javy Vazquez on the mound. Seriously, who has a better chance of doing well on Thursday, Vazquez or Sarah Palin? This could turn into a Springer episode.
Dodgers vs. Cubs: The loveable losers of Chicago have the pressure squarely on their shoulders. They have been the best team in the National League all season, but the starting staff have shown chinks. Can they shake the curse of the goat? Will Steve Bartman be sitting down the leftfield line? Could favorite son Kerry Wood blow one in the ninth? Will anybody get Manny out? The Red Sox broke their curse. The White Sox broke their curse. Maybe if the Cubs were the Blue Sox…..? I think this curse lives on, and the Cubs leave early, taking years off Piniella’s life. This is why the Dodgers signed Torre. He will work his magic one more time.
Phillies and Brewers: Surprisingly, this series may lead in star power: CC, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun on one side, and every NL MVP of the decade on the other. Sabathia has to be about spent, and remember, he didn’t do well in the post-season last year. It’s one thing to run roughshod through the National League, but pitching in Philly is different. They can hit and the fences are close. The Phils, on the other hand, were rudely dispatched by last year’s runaway Rockie train. Can they rebound, or will they fail in October two years in a row just as the Mets failed in September two years in a row? I don’t know who to take in the series, but I’ll bet you that Moyer pitches as well as Sabathia, and I’ll bet you that alcohol sales in Wisconsin are way up. I mean, the same day the baseball team finally make the playoffs, their quarterback gets hurt. These things just don’t happen up there.
Enjoy the second best sports week of the year.