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"Art and love are the same thing. It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October Dreamin'

It isn't a very well kept secret that I am the biggest baseball fan on the planet.

Up until now, I have attempted to hold back my raging baseball impulses but now with the MLB playoffs set in stone and all ready to start today, it is high time for a comprehensive, long-winded, most likely wrong MLB Playoff Preview with predictions. So without further ado, I present:
The 2008 Collective(ly) Unconscious Comprehensive, Long-Winded, Most Likely Wrong MLB Playoff Preview...with predictions

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs
Dodgers Line-up Cubs Line-up
1. Rafael Furcal SS 1. Alfonso Soriano LF
2. Matt Kemp CF 2. Ryan Theriot SS
3. Jeff Kent 2B  3. Derek Lee 1B
4. Manny Ramirez LF 4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
5. James Loney 1B 5. Kosuke Fukudome RF
6. Russell Martin C   6. Geovany Soto C
7. Andre Ethier RF 7. Mark De Rosa 2B
8. Casey Blake/Nomar Garciaparra 3B 8. Jim Edmonds/Reed Johnson CF
Dodgers Rotation Cubs Rotation
1. Derek Lowe 1. Ryan Dempster
2. Chad Billingsly  2. Carlos Zambrano
3. Hiroki Kuroda 3. Rich Harden
4. Greg Maddux/Clayton Kershaw 4. Ted Lily
Dodgers Bullpen Cubs Bullpen
1. Jonathan Broxton 1. Carlos Marmol
2. Joe Beimel 2. Bob Howry
C. Takashi Saito C. Kerry Wood
Analysis: This is a match-up where I am tempted to ignore every single strategical and talent-related advantage or disadvantage that either team has and just simply write: "This is the Cubbies year." But that would be a huge disrespect to the Dodgers. They played hard to get here and they are every much the Cubs equal. The problem is: this Cubs team has been playing with the exact same players in the exact same line-up for almost two years now. They gel well together and are loaded with talent. This is probably the easiest team in the playoffs to manage: just plug in the pieces and watch them win. Plus it doesn't hurt when your bullpen is at least six men deep with talent. It really is an embarrassment of riches after the seventh inning and those first seven innings certainly won't be bad as the Cubs starters are excellent as well. Joe Torre deserves manager of the year and Manny has added a new dimension to this whole team but they won't be enough to overcome those Cubbies.
Chicago in 3.

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Brewers Line-up Phillies Line-up
1. Rickie Weeks/Ray Durham 2B 1. Jimmy Rollins SS
2. Mike Cameron CF 2. Shane Victorino CF
3. Ryan Braun LF 3. Chase Utley 2B
4. Prince Fielder 1B 4. Ryan Howard 1B
5. J.J Hardy SS 5. Pat Burrell LF
6. Corey Hart RF 6. Jayson Werth RF
7. Bill Hall 3B 7. Pedro Feliz 3B
8. Jason Kendall C 8. Chris Coste C
Brewers Rotation Phillies Rotation
1. Yovani Gallardo 1. Cole Hamels
2. CC Sabathia  2. Brett Myers
3. Dave Bush 3. Jamie Moyer
4. Manny Para   4. Joe Blanton
Brewers Bullpen Phillies Bullpen
1. Seth McClung 1. Ryan Madson
2. Eric Gagne 2. J.C Romero
C. Salomon Torres C. Brad Lidge
Analysis: If we as baseball fans/historians/crazies have learned anything as a group for the past decade it is: momentum is pretty sweet. The Brewers are worse than the Phillies. Not much worse, just worse. But they have more momentum than anyone going into the playoffs ESPECIALLY the hapless Phils. I don't know about you, but I get the distinct impression the Philadelphia is a-okay with back-to-back division titles. Why rock the boat? Milwaukee, however, is a whole 'nother story! I was honestly worried that the city of Milwaukee itself would fall apart in a seismic and sonic destruction from the raucous celebration at Miller Park. The fans lost their minds, CC Sabathia pumped his arms and let out a vintage Sabathia primal scream and all the players began partying like the world had just been saved from eminent destruction. The Brewers have pushed all their chips in and are going to play like their is no tomorrow, which of course there won't be, because CC, Sheets and Hardy are all leaving after the season.
Brewers in 4

Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels
Red Sox Line-up Angels Line-up
1. Jacoby Ellsbury CF 1. Chone Figgins 3B
2. Dustin Pedroia 2B 2. Erick Aybar SS
3. David Ortiz DH 3. Vladimir Guerro RF
4. Mike Lowell 3B 4. Mark Teixeirra 1B
5. J.D Drew RF 5. Torii Hunter CF
6. Jason Bay LF 6. Garet Anderson DH
7. Kevin Youkilis 1B 7. Howie Kendrick 2B
8. Jason Varitek C 8. Mike Napoli C
9. Jed Lowrie SS 9. Gary Matthews Jr. LF
Red Sox Rotation  Angels Rotation
1. Jon Lester 1. John Lackey
2. Daisuke Matsuzaka 2. Joe Saunders
3. Josh Beckett 3. Ervin Santana
4. Tim Wakefield 4. Jon Garland/Jered Weaver
Red Sox Bullpen Angels Bullpen
1. Justin Masterson 1. Scot Shields
2. Hideki Okajima 2. Darren Oliver
C. Jonathan Papelbon  C. Francisco Rodriguez
Analysis: Wow, what a match-up. I would have been satisfied with a Red Sox, Angels match-up in the World Series so this seems curiously out of place in the first round. I truly do not know what to make of this game. A Red Sox sweep would not surprise me. An Angels sweep would not surprise me. A 5 game series in which the last game goes 41 innings would not surprise. The Angels are the most absurdly stacked team in baseball. Their rotation is pitch perfect. Their bullpen is even better. They filled their ONLY hole on the trade market by adding an intimidating slugger behind Vlad. They have the most wins in baseball. They clinched long ago and have had all the time in the world to rest their starters and get their rotation set. Boston is tired and depleted with an endless struggle with the Rays. Their clean-up hitter and former WS MVP is out. Their ace and best postseason asset is hurting. Big Papi is by no means the player he was two years ago. But I am still terrified of them and I guarantee you the Angels are too. Why? Their the fricking Red Sox! Ask the Yankees or the Indians if the Red Sox like being counted out...they don't. So, I am doing the smart thing and picking Los Angeles but I get the feeling Boston is going to make me pay for it. Plus, I think Chone Figgins beats Coco Crisp in the funny-name department.
Angels in 5

Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Chicago Line-up Rays Line-up
1. Orlando Cabrera SS 1. Akinori Iwamura 2B
2. Dewayne Wise LF 2. Carl Crawford LF
3. Jermaine Dye RF 3. B.J Upton CF
4. Jim Thome DH 4. Carlos Pena 1B
5. Paul Konerko 1B 5. Evan Longoria 3B
6. Ken Griffey Jr. CF 6. Cliff Floyd DH
7. Alexei Ramirez 2B 7. Dioner Navarro C
8. A.J Pierzynski C 8. Eric Hinske/Rocco Balldelli RF
9. Juan Uribe 3B 9. Jason Bartlett SS
White Sox Rotation Rays Rotation
1. Mark Buehrle 1. Scott Kazmir
2. Javier Vazquez 2. James Shields
3. Gavin Floyd 3. Matt Garza
4. John Danks 4. Andy Sonanstine/Edwin Jackson
White Sox Bullpen Rays Bullpen
1. Scott Linebrink 1. Dan Wheeler
2. Octavio Dotel 2. David Price
C. Bobby Jenks C. Troy Percival
Analysis: There is a difference between charging into the playoffs and stumbling into the playoffs and the White Sox...well, they stumbled. They dropped two out of the three at home to the Indians and made a race in the AL Central much closer than it ever should have been. They are bruised, they are broken and they are tired. Now, what about those Rays? The Rays are America's golden boys. They did the near-impossible and went from worst to (almost) first in the toughest division in baseball and the hardest professional sport to improve in. Their payroll is less than the left side of the Yankees infield and yet, they did it. Not only did they do it, but they are just a great team. An ace takes the mound every night with the confidence in the bullpen behind them. Their line-up is a ragtag band of role-players and spare parts, but they play better together than any line-up in the league. They are young, they are good and they are confident. The White Sox are old, washed-up and just straight up not very good. Despite this fact, the Sox are going to give the Rays a hell of a series. The White Sox are old but they have a few playmakers that are absolutely desperate to get their hands on a World Series ring. Jim Thome was practically salivating at his post-game press conference, thinking about winning the big one. Too think, the Tribe could still have his bat if the Dolans were smart enough to cough up a few more bucks. Excuse me, I have to go throw up now.
Rays in 5.
Tampa Bay Rays def. Los Angeles Angels in 7
Chicago Cubs def. Milwaukee Brewers in 5

World Series
Tampa Bay Rays def. Chicago Cubs in 6

The Rays will take it home this year to nail down their first World Series and become the single best sports story of 2008. If a Rays-Cubs World Series doesn't draw serious viewers, I don't know what will, aside from Bud Selig promising to execute every coach and player on the losing team. I, of course, will be watching at home wiping my tears with a Chief Wahoo flag and wondering what would have happened if Travis Hafner looked anything like his old self and Fausto Carmona and Victor Martinez could stay healthy. 

Say it with me now: Next year.


A.G.B said...

A big thanks to Woozie for saving this post from the September ghetto!

Woozie said...

Like cornbread, ain't nothin wrong with September.

If I were into baseball I'd be required to be a Nationals fan. Oh, the Nationals...

A.G.B said...

Ouchhhh. The thing with being a Nationals fan though is: it is like living with a terminal illness, There is always some small flickering flame of hope. I think I would enjoy that lifestyle, thinking: "you know, it can't get any worse than this, so I might as well enjoy it!"

A.G.B said...

Thank God for the Rays. Otherwise, these would have been the sorriest predictions of all time.