The only solace I have this time of year is Major League Baseball Playoffs. Yeah!!! Playoffs, baby!!!
Last night was a great example of how certain players rise to the occasion and remind us that the regular season means jack shit. John Danks (owner of baseball’s dreariest name) entered the game as a solid number 3 or 4 pitcher and proceeded to shut down the Twins. Don't be fooled, this was no fluke. Danks was throwing some nasty shit up there last night.
While I respect the Twins, I sure am glad they are out of the playoffs. That team was built for the playoffs. Out pitching, out defending, clawing and scratching for one run here, two runs there while shutting down the other team. Let’s face it, if it weren’t for Thome’s blast, those teams might still be playing.
Alas, it wasn’t to be for the Twins. Sorry, Minny fans. You had a surprisingly fun ride, but I’m glad your team is no longer a threat.
Not that it will matter much to the Boston Red Sox.
I get ahead of myself. Let’s run down the matchups and see where we wind up.
Angels vs Red Sox: Normally I’d be salivating looking at this matchup. The Sox have owned the Angels in the playoffs the last few years and one would expect things to be not much different this time around. Hey, maybe the Angels are like the Mets in that they have a great regular season then crap out in October? Only for the Mets they start three weeks early.
I don’t think this will be the case this year. This Angels team is loaded. Solid starting rotation, top bullpen, tough lineup, decent defense. I don’t see a weakness in this team.
I can’t help but think about how this same team (plus Torii Hunter) imploded last year. The Sox didn’t just beat them, they demoralized them. The Angels could do nothing right and it’s nearly the same team. Are they going to fold in the bright lights again?
Then again, Beckett’s hurt, Lowell is hurt, JD Drew (who knew I’d be wishing he were healthy?) is hurt, I hold my breath every time Matsuzaka throws a pitch and throwing Byrd up against the power lefties in the Angels lineup will not end well.
Prediction: Angels in 5; Manny showing up for batting practice in LA forgetting he'd been traded.
White Sox vs Rays: Man, is there a less scary team in the playoffs than the White Sox? Even the Brewers are more intimidating. Their entire lineup looks like a ‘Where are they now?’ segment.
The Rays, meanwhile, may play like the 2007 & 2008 Mets in late September since this will be their first playoff appearance for most of them. Ok, all of them except maybe 3 guys.
I don’t think so. Maddon has this young team focused and confident. They have the starters to effectively shut down the White Sox and tend to pull wins out of their asses when they need them the most. Look for at least two one run wins in this series.
Still, a part of me thinks the Rays’ woeful clutch hitting will bite them in the ass at some point. It just won’t be in this series.
One other sidenote is the polar opposite in managing styles. In one corner is the mild mannered Joe Maddon and the other is Mount Ozzie, ready to blow at any minute.
Prediction: Rays in 4; steroid accusations about Ken Griffey Jr coming from Barry Bonds, of all people.
Cubs vs Dodgers: Would it be strange to see Manny, Nomar, Derek Lowe and Joe Torre in the World Series on the same team? Fuck, yeah! Which is why I can’t picture this happening. Manny – as many Boston fans can attest – can disappear in the first round of the playoffs, their best starter is um…Lowe? Really? I guess he’s proven he can dominate in the playoffs, but if my team’s chances are relying on him being the number one starter I’d be a little nervous.
The Cubs meanwhile have been scorching the league since June and don’t look real worried about any curses. Here’s their starting rotation: Zambrano, Hill (if healthy – which really should be his legal name at this point. Hill If Healthy), Dempster and Ted Lilly. Not bad at all. Sure their defense isn’t what you’d call….uh….good…but with the number of runs they’re putting up against the Dodgers in this series defense won’t matter.
Prediction: Cubs in 4; bizarre Nomar injury that has nothing to do with past steroid use. Really! He swears!
Phillies vs Brewers: Everyone in Philly should be pissed – PISSED – they get the Brewers in the first round. Sabathia, Sheets, (fill in the blank starter)
The Phillies better hope the Sabathia from last year’s ALCS makes a surprise return, because that’s the only chance they have of winning this series.
You know, that is distinctly possible. Sure CC had a kick ass second half, but he’s also been pitching his arm off the last two seasons. You gotta figure that’s going to come back to haunt him at some point. Right?
And if there is one team that can punish a subpar pitching performance, it’s this Phillies team. Huh. I think I just talked myself into picking the Phillies in this series. Wait, who are their starters again? Hamels, Moyers and Myers? Man, I can’t see it.
Prediction: Brewers in 5 with Sabathia pitching a near no hitter in Game 5 then signing a $125 million contract with the Yankees before it’s even legal to do so.
So there you go. Angels vs Rays and Cubs vs Brewers in round two.
Take it to the bank.
By that I mean a bank that’s still in business.
Today’s distraction: A rambling, nearly psychotic press conference by Al Davis in which he explains why he fired head coach Lane Kiffin. Let’s be honest, if this guy didn’t own the Raiders he would be in a home by now. Christ, even George Steinbrenner has been hidden away. Doesn’t Davis have any ruthless sons that can get him committed? More importantly, who the hell would want to coach for this lunatic?
By the way, lost in this insanity is a tidbit Davis let fly to reporters after the press conference (he was in a talkative mood, I guess) in which he accuses the Patriots of tampering with Randy Moss. Now, I know you can tamper with free agents and coaches but how do you tamper with a player you TRADE for?