Tuesday, October 03, 2006
First up …
Dodgers vs. Mets. Everyone is assuming that the World Series is going to be a Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees, as it was in 2000. I think the Dodgers are going to have something to say about that. Yes, the Mets were clearly the best team in the National League in 2006. Yes, the Mets have a lot of power on offense and their pitching was good. Yes, the Dodgers were streaky.
And I am going with the Dodgers. This is a team that is streaky, but has played well of late, when it counted. I think the Dodgers rotation of Greg Maddux, Derek Lowe and Brad Penny is far stronger than the Mets depleted rotation of Tom Glavine and … who is pitching for the Mets now that Pedro is gone? The Dodgers pitching is easily better than the Mets and that is the edge. Sure, the Mets are explosive on offense, but the Dodgers are leading the N.L. in BA/RISP. When their offense is clicking, nothing can stop them. Since nobody is predicting the Dodgers to win, I guess I am going with the upset.
Dodgers in five.
Cardinals vs. Padres. This is, quite possibly, the dullest matchup I have seen in years. The Cardinals have the look of a loser on them. They very nearly turned in a more spectacular collapse than the 1964 Phillies and they look shell-shocked and banged up. The Padres are clearly the stronger team: they have the best pitching in the N.L. and they are the best fielding team in the N.L. as well. The Cardinals look like a shell of the team that they once were. Their pitching – specifically their Fielding Independent Pitching – was actually worse than the Phillies much-maligned pitching staff. They are average in terms of fielding. Their offense just isn’t explosive anymore and looks to me like it has become a one-man show: the Pujols show. The Padres don’t score many runs – they might actually be the worst team in the N.L. on offense too – but they are going to shut the Cardinals down and win these games 1-0 and 2-1.
Padres in three.
Tigers vs. Yankees. I badly want the Tigers to win this series. I do. Everything about the 2006 Yankees offends my sense of decency and fair play. Big market team, New York City, Derek Jeter, A-Rod (that god of metrosexuality) … Outside of the New York Metropolitan Statistical Area, does anyone – aside from the bandwagon jumpers – actually like the Yankees? Rooting for these guys is like rooting for the Storm Troopers to kill Luke Skywalker. This is such an arrogant, obnoxious, spoiled team that I think they’d be stunned to take a look and discover that they are the villains of baseball. As Susan Sarandon said in Bull Durham: “The world is made for those not cursed with self-awareness.” The Yankees are befuddled why people hate them. If they could just look at themselves, they’d know why.
So I want the Tigers to win. Ain’t gonna happen. It is going to be close, in part because the Tigers have a better pitching staff than the Yankees, but the Yankees are loaded on offense and will find a way to score ten, eleven runs a game. The Tigers don’t have the horses on offense to compete with that.
Yankees in four.
A’s vs. Twins. The marquee matchup. This series might end up being the best in the playoffs. Curse the Twins for winning the AL Central and getting to play the A’s at home rather than playing the Yankees on the road. This series pits the two teams that I am rooting for, the Twins and the A’s, so one team will advance to the ALCS, but one team is headed home. The problem that I had with this series is that I thought that the A’s and Twins were both headed for the ALCS. I like the Twins and I think they would have matched up against the Yankees absurdly well: the young, pitching-dominated group would have shut down the Yankees mighty offense, split the first two at Yankee Stadium and then capture two at the Metrodome. Meanwhile, the A’s were going to knock-off the reeling Tigers in four. Not to be.
I love the A’s. They are my favorite team after the Phillies. (The Twins, by the way, are my favorite team after that.) I really want to see them in the ALCS after they fell short four times between 2000 & 2003. The first team to apply sabremetrics to the actual game. A small market powerhouse. A team that played in Philadelphia between 1901 and 1954. I hate to say it, but I don’t see the A’s getting past the ALDS again. This is a great team, very deep and talented, but they just aren’t as good as those Giambi / Tejada-led teams that fell short at the beginning of the decade.
What I like about the Twins is Johan Santana. This guy is unstoppable. He’s the Sandy Koufax of this era. He’s the Robin Roberts of this era. Simply put, if the series goes to five games the Twins have it in the bag because Santana will be hurling game five. I think it will be a Twins victory because they look very deep in their bullpen and have a good offense.
Twins in five.
After that I like the Twins to beat the Yankees in seven games and the Dodgers to beat the Padres in six games. The Dodgers – Twins World Series, a replay of the 1965 series, will be won by the Twins this time in six. But I’ll preview the LCS’s when those matchups are set: I know better than to talk about games that are probably hypotheticals.
Let’s talk some football … Do you know what really pisses me off about the Eagles 30-24 OT loss in week two to the Giants? We’d be 4-0 heading into this Sunday’s matchup with T.O. with games right after that against the over-rated Saints and the ripe-for-the-plucking Buccaneers. We could have been 7-0 heading into the pre-bye game against the Jaguars.
Still, 3-1 is good and the Eagles turned in a dominating performance last night. The defense did a great job with Brett Favre. Sure they never sacked him, but they got pressure in on him the entire evening and forced him to throw two interceptions and twenty incompletions. The Packers never got anything going all night long.
On the other side of the ball, the Eagles looked like the old pre-T.O. team. McNabb ran for 47 yards, something that he got away from once T.O. joined the team and he injured his hernia last year. Donovan looked good out there, juking and jiving around the field, spreading the ball around and throwing lasers. His 21-yard toss to L.J. Smith was literally perfect – the only way he could have gotten the ball to him was to thread the needle and lay it in over the defender’s hands. McNabb looked confident and in-control.
I thought the Eagles run-game was so-so. They did a decent job given that they didn’t have Brian Westbrook in the backfield. Moats and Buckhalter combined for 71 yards on 18 carries which is … so-so. They need to commit to the run more late in games to close them out. In McNabb’s final drive of the game they were still throwing the ball. They need to commit to the run at the end of games more.
Anyway, with the Eagles season just heating up and the Phillies season winding down I am anticipating doing more posting at The Bird Blog in the coming weeks, especially with T.O. vs. McNabb in the offing next week. I’ll continue to follow the MLB playoffs, work on my season in review series and pay attention next Tuesday morning for the first post on my big, big project.