My 1st-Round Picks: Rays, Angels, Phils, Cubs
Since 1975, I have done formal well-reasoned detailed analysis of post-season baseball for the Post and then made my picks. Well, the heck with that. What a waste of time. You can't imagine the hours I spent on that stuff. And it's all forgotten instantly. (Unless you are wrong.) Thank God for the loosen-up and let-it-fly blog era.
The whole reason that post-season baseball is so much fun is that NOBODY knows who is going to win. Or why. It's a crap shoot. Picking the 'best' teams or 'hottest' teams doesn't work. Picking by manager or charismatic star, choosing by home field or superior league -- all of it is bunk. After a third of a century, I know. In fact, by the '80s I'd learned that it was best for me to forget, immediately if possible, whom I 'picked' because being proud of your own analysis only makes it (slightly) harder to write columns about what you are actually watching unfold before your eyes. Long ago I decided that, when asked my picks by other writers, I'd often say, 'I can't remember. I'm too busy WATCHING THIS GAME.'
If I had to bet, I suspect my multi-decade 'record' as a prognosticator was exactly 50 percent. It would have been more interesting if, like Andy Beyer's famous Kentucky Derby picks -- which were always wrong for, I think, more than 20 consecutive years -- I had a terrible record. Nobody knows more about handicapping horses than Andy. But the Derby was unique -- a freak race, a 20-horse stampede, etc. Sure, if you just picked the favorites in the baseball post-season every year, you'd probably do better than a coin flip. But the temptation is always to be 'interesting' and fun for the reader, since they get to laugh at you when you are wrong. Not this year. I finally get to have the fun.
The Rays are going to advance, even though we don't know yet who they will play -- the White Sox or Twins. The Rays had the best home record in baseball since the '98 Yankees! They own the Trop. And they have the kind of top-of-the-rotation stuff pitchers who usually do well in October -- James Shields and Scott Kazmir. lmost nobody plays on turf anymore or designs a team like many did in the '80s -- like the Runnin' Redbirds. The Rays have speed and defense. Can they freeze against a more experienced team, like the Whie Sox. Sure. Do the Twins know turf? Obviously. Am I rooting for the Rays? Absolutely.
The Red Sox have won enough. They've messed up their internal offensive dynamics by trading Manny. Boston is still scary, but not like they were with Big Papa and Ramirez in the middle. Beckett's oblique injury, pushing him back to Game 3, is ominous. lso, the Angels are another of my unappreciated favorite teams. East Coast fans don't get to see them enough. I've love to see a first-to-third derby between two fundamentally sound teams -- Angels and Rays.
I just like the Philles. I like Charlie Manuel, who's one of the best chatters in baseball when you're just leaning up against the batting cage with him but terrible in front of a mike. I like that about anybody. Also, anthing that gets more credit for Jamie Moer is okay by me. The Brewers? Glad they got back to the playoffs. But the way they ABUSED CC Sabathia -- when he's a fee agent and they know he'll never pitch for them after this October -- is just shamefulI. Let 'em lose. At least then C.C. won't be pitching into Novemebr. If the Brewers win, there's plenty to like about them. I just prefer driving up to cheerful Citizen's Bank Park -- only two hours from my house.
The Cubs? Come on, it's their year, right? Actually, after sitting next to Dodger fanatic Les Carpenter for four hours on Sunday in Dallas, I'm almost convinced LA. can pull a upset. Les is such a Dodger nut that when they fell behind te Giants, 2-1, in mid-game on Sunday -- the ultimate meaningless contest -- he let out a grunt of disgust.
"There's never a 'good loss' to the Giants is there, Les?" I said.
"You caught me," he said sheepishly.
BTW, Les updated me on Manny's batting average every day in Beijing. Sometimes between at bats. Got to admit that seeing both Joe Torre and Ramirez smiling -- again -- was a delight. I'm okay with the Dodgers winning. But, come on, don't we all want to see the Cubs in the World Seres. If only to observe the wretched excesses of pseudo-literary whining from coast-to-coast if they lose. I've always liked the Cubs. But not a great deal.There's been a dignity, albeit a self-obsessed dignity, in the Red Sox defeats in Game Seven of the Series or the Dent playoff. The Cubs? Mostly, the Cubs just sunk, decade after decade, then found a way to claim it was cute. With that attitude, you're entirely to a world title once every 100 years.
But just one.
See, wasn't that more enjoyable than a responsible adult anaysis?
September 30, 2008; 2:20 PM ET
Categories: Angels , Brewers , Cubs , Dodgers , Phillies , Rays , Red Sox , White Sox
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