Tuesday, September 30, 2008

MLB playoff predictions

ON BASEBALL

It's that time of year again. Easily one of the two best sports months of the year — along with March.

Baseball playoffs + football season = lots of TV watching...

And, of course, my playoff predictions.

But first, a full disclosure: At the beginning of the season, I made inane picks such as:
- Cleveland to win the AL Central
- Detroit to win the AL Wild Card
- Tampa Bay to finish fourth in the AL East
- Colorado to win the NL West

OK, I'll be kind to myself. Even the "experts" picked Cleveland and Detroit to be good, and nobody picked the Rays to win their division. So I forgive myself, although my man Cosey won't let me forget that when I typed up my midseason picks, I chose the Tigers to win the Central.

Yep, that was a dumb one.

But enough about the last-place Tigers. It's time to predict what the teams still playing will do:

DIVISIONAL ROUND
American League
Tampa Bay def. Chicago White Sox (5 games): This will be a very competitive series, but Chicago will be hurt by the fact that it used two of its three best starting pitchers on Monday and Tuesday.

L.A. Angels def. Boston (5 games): Another good series, but Boston only pitching Josh Beckett once will do the Red Sox in. The Angels' bats will be noisy unlike last year.

National League
Philly def. Milwaukee (4 games): If this series goes five games, the Brewers will win it with C.C. Sabathia on the mound. But I'm betting on the Phils urgently winning Game 4. Closer Brad Lidge has become Mr. Automatic.

Chicago Cubs def. L.A. Dodgers (4 games):
I can't pick against the Cubs this early in the postseason. The bullpen will be key in each victory.

LEAGUE SERIES
American League
L.A. Angels def. Tampa Bay (5 games): This is the series in which baseball's best team shows exactly why they're so good. Solid starting pitching, a solid bullpen, the best closer in baseball and timely hitting. The Rays' magical season ends.

National League
Philly def. Chicago Cubs (7 games): What better way for the Cubs to go out — again — than in the seventh game of the NLCS (remember 2003?). I expect Philly's strong lineup to expose and frustrate Carlos Zambrano. And, yeah, anything can happen in a Game 7.

WORLD SERIES
L.A. Angels def. Philly (6 games): It helps to have arguably baseball's best manager, and that will ring true for the Angels in a series full of close games that require tough decisions in late-inning situations. It will be one of the higher-scoring Series in recent memory, and it will feature two of baseball's best closers.

In the end, Francisco Rodriguez will save the final game, give a huge fist pump and prepare to garner the biggest contract ever for a closer. And both the Anaheim and Los Angeles Angels — go figure — will have World Series titles.

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