Wednesday, October 04, 2006

MLB postseason

Per my 2006 Pirate preview (at the end of which, I took a stab at predicting the final standings of the league and the postseason results), here's what I had:

NL Divisional Series: Cardinals over Mets, Dodgers over Braves

AL Divisional Series: Yankees over Indians, White Sox over Angels

NL Championship Series: Cardinals over Dodgers

AL Championship Series: Yankees over White Sox

World Series: Cardinals over Yankees

Well, I got half the postseason participants right, and successfully predicted that the AL Central would send 2 teams (two completely different teams, but still...). Ok, that's not really so impressive. That's what I get for taking the safe route with the Braves and figuring the White Sox were built to last.

Regardless, in the interest of not being that guy who changes his answers halfway through the test only to find he was right the first time, I'm going to hold to Cardinals over Yankees, even though my mind screams, "It's not logical! St. Louis barely had a winning record this year! They don't have the pitching! They can't possibly outlast the Mets!"

That's getting ahead of oneself. I think the Dodgers are going to give the Mets a run, and I give it good odds of going the distance, especially with El Duque out for the series. And, of course, a 1-0 lead for the Cardinals does not automatically mean they'll advance to the NLDS.

I had been thinking a couple of days ago, if I were Bruce Bochy, would I start Jake Peavy in Game 1, or would I have kept Chris Young on the shelf so that the rookie could start? At least this way, the series is at 0-0 and there's no added pressure. Young has also had enough poise all season long to lead me to believe he'd be able to convince himself that this game was just the first of a normal series without feeling the pressure of facing a deficit. Oh, yeah, and he'd be pitching in front of the home crowd. As it is, Young is scheduled to start Game 3 in St. Louis. Best case scenario for him is that the Padres win tomorrow so as to alleviate the pressure of not only winning on the road, in the postseason, but also to avoid elimination in three straight.

In Bochy's defense, it's not like he had the division title wrapped up like the Mets, and could therefore afford to put me in the starting rotation to play out the string so that he could align his playoff starters the way he wanted.

Meanwhile, in New York, it looks like the Tigers hit that, "We probably shouldn't be doing this well this quickly" wall a couple weeks too early. After all, it was the refusal to think these thoughts that allowed a rag-tag Florida Marlins bunch to erase a 3-1 deficit to the Cubs, and eventually conquer the heavily favored Yankees in six games in 2003. It was only after Josh Beckett completed the last out that they all thought, "Holy moley! We shouldn't have been able to do this."

My favorite moment in baseball from 2003.

The Yankees look poised to sweep the divisional series.

Psst! Wake up, Randy! You start Friday!

The battle of the two small market AL teams may go the distance, too. Watch out for the decisive Game 5. I'll take Santana over Zito should that rematch come to pass.


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