08 October 2003


With apologies to Rob Neyer...

A few random notes while wondering where Carl Weathers will show up in the vast, right wing conspiracy to get the entire cast of Predator elected to public office...

First of all, the fact that the games have been so competitive this far into the playoffs is simply fantastic. There have only been four games (coincidentally, one in each Division series) decided by four runs or more, and only one decided by more than four runs (the Yankees' 8-1 clincher at Minnesota...so much for home-carpet advantage.) In fact, three of the four series were decided by four runs or fewer, with the Oakland-Boston series decided by only one run. Almost all of the games have been exciting, some of them going to extra innings. Hey! Free baseball!

What's more, half (count 'em) of this year's playoff participants come from cities that have been traditionally considered non-contenders because of being in a small market. Oakland and San Francisco, with essentially the same market, the Florida Marlins, and the Minnesota Twins have all been the subjects of conversations about "competitive imbalance" and the Twins were even threatened with contraction less than two years ago. It seems that Commissioner Bud has a lot less to say about the issue now that Oakland has made the playoffs for four straight years, with two MVPs and a Cy Young Award winner along the way, and the Twins are were in the playoffs for a second straight season.

Last year, Selig was bitching and moaning that the teams who had won the recent World Series' were all in the top tier of payroll, but this year the Cubs (12th) and Marlins (20th) still have as good a shot at it as the Yanks (1st) and Red Sox (5th). And even if neither of the National League, cheapskate teams wins (please...) the playoffs are almost a crap-shoot anyway. It's getting there that's the tough part. Winning once you're there is little more than good fortune.

For the record, I still pick the Cubs to beat the Marlins in the NLCS. The Marlins didn't strike out much this year (3rd fewest in NL), but they also aren't very patient as a team (4th fewest walks in NL in 2003), and don't hit for a lot of power (11th in homers). The Cubs are among the best at preventing homers and striking out the opposition, even though they walk more than their fair share. Florida doesn't have the patience to take much advantage of that tendency, and won't be able to overcome two appearances each by Wood and Prior.

FuzzyCubbies in six.

And, as you might imagine, I will still pick the Yankees in the ALCS. They're rested, they've got their rotation set up, they've got home-field advantage, and Boston's never beaten them in the playoffs. OK, so they've only met in playoffs of any sort twice, but still...

More importantly, the Yankees have their rotation set up exactly how they like it, as well as a rested bullpen, since they only needed a total of 7 innings and change from their relief pitchers to put away the Twins. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the cowboy-upping Red Sox are trying to patch together their starters from the tatters in which Oakland's hitters left them after five games that all came down to the wire. Their bullpen, despite not giving up a run after the first game of the Division Series, has not exactly been a bullwark of out-making fortitude this season. Byun-Hyun Kim, their supposed closer, isn't even on the roster for the series. And their starting lineup will sorely miss Johnny Damon, however long he's gone.

The Yankees left Chris Hammond off their ALCS roster to make room for an extra backup infielder, Erick Almonte. If it were me, I'd probably prefer to leave one of the RF/DH types off the roster and keep Hammond. Some of Boston's key hitters (Nixon, Ortiz, Walker) struggle mightily against lefties, and Gabe White is the only one Torre's got now in that bullpen. Not the way I'd have done it, but then maybe that's why I don't have four World Series trophies to my credit.

There will be some messy games, but they'll be fun. and the Yankees will win it in Six.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a dog to watch and a game to walk. Or something.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: