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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?

By Thomas Boswell  |  September 30, 2008; 2:20 PM ET
Categories:  Angels , Brewers , Cubs , Dodgers , Phillies , Rays , Red Sox , White Sox  
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Next: Why I've Stopped Hating Kirk Gibson

Comments

It's probably the homer in me, but I think that the Dodgers match up well against the Cubs and have a great chance to win the series.

In Game 1, you've got Lowe vs. Dempster. Lowe pitched two games against the Cubs this year, going 1-0, with a 1.93 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 14 innings pitched. At Wrigley Field back in late May, he threw seven scoreless innings, but the Dodgers lost the game in 10 innings after Saito blew a save in the 9th.

Also, remember that Lowe has thrown 67.1 innings in the postseason in his career versus one inning for Dempster (a scoreless inning in the 2007 NLDS vs. Arizona).

It's true that Dempster pitched well against the Dodgers in two games this year, going 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 12 1/3 innings pitched. That includes a start at Wrigley Field where he allowed one run in 7 innings and got the win. But that was back in late May and early June before the Dodgers added Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez. Also watch out for Andre Ethier, who has a .455 lifetime average against Dempster.

If the Dodgers can win Game 1 against Dempster, I really like their chances of winning the series. I love the pitching matchup in Game 3 (Kuroda vs. Harden). Harden's been great for the Cubs, but has been a little wild in his last two starts (11 BB in 11 innings) even though he's only allowed three hits. He has never faced the Dodgers, but Manny Ramirez does have three home runs off him in eleven career at-bats.

But the real story in the Game 3 matchup is Kuroda, who went 1-1, with a 0.59 ERA and 0.91 WHIP vs. Cubs this year.

Should be a great series.

Posted by: Jamos | September 30, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Mark my words...Gallardo

Posted by: Brew crew | September 30, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

George Bush doesn't like hamsters. Er, wrong blog. GO RAYS! W00t! ;)

Posted by: Pet Lover | September 30, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Go RAYS!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 30, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Mark my words, the Cubs OBP will turn the tide for them this year. It allows them to scratch out runs against strong pitching. And once you pull your starter, they'll explode on the bullpen. The fact that they've got 4 good to great starters gives the offense some leeway, but their OBP will ultimately turn the trick.

Posted by: Megaton | September 30, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully next year we will be discussing the Nationals playoff run.

Posted by: Randy28146 | September 30, 2008 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I honestly believe that the Angels have no chance. Just like last year. Everyone wrote the Sox off saying that it was the Angles turn that the Sox had their shot. But look what happened, a sweep. Now im not saying that it will be a sweep but I'm sure that any major league team would love to have Jon Lester, Dice-K, an 80% healthy Josh beckett, D-Ped, and Big papi on their team.
Go Sox!!

Posted by: Hank | September 30, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

This writer stinks at writing. Does 'Iso' mean Also.
GO BACK TO MIDDLE-SCHOOL Boswell. ALSO, what is up with the stupid ___ in the middle of the sentences???!?!?!
Worst article ever.
Go Yankees!

Posted by: Steve | September 30, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I would guess that the ___ is an issue of a paragraph return/line wrap character glitch in the transition from offline to online posting.

Posted by: editor type | September 30, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Ok, come clean -- is this actually a parody about Yankee fans?

This writer stinks at writing. Does 'Iso' mean Also.
GO BACK TO MIDDLE-SCHOOL Boswell. ALSO, what is up with the stupid ___ in the middle of the sentences???!?!?!
Worst article ever.
Go Yankees!

Posted by: Arkymark | September 30, 2008 7:04 PM | Report abuse

I'd been wondering the same thing, Arkymark.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 30, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

This is the Phils' year. They have possibly the best bullpen in baseball and are pretty balanced otherwise (offense, power, speed, starting pitching). They stack up real well against the Brewers, and once they make it to the NLCS, who knows what can happen? Phils-Rays in The Series.

Posted by: Chuck | September 30, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Of all the picks made here, Yall couldnt be more wrong on the Cubbies.I dont know if you've watched their last 5-6 weeks of play, but they have been coasting, just strolling through the long end of the season.They are extremely fresh,their pitching has come alive and the Hits just keep on coming.Sure, theyre not perfect on every outing, so there is some wiggle room.But those boys worked hard through the whole season, did'nt get uppity even with an enormous lead,and the Cpoaching has been top notch.
Dodgers have a great roll as well,and couldnt ask for a more decent coach.But you have Peronality after Personality,and an entirely new season rolling into the Mid-west.its been averaging in the low 60's for weeks now, dipping lower in the evening, and they start in Chicago!!!

Posted by: No Way | October 1, 2008 12:54 AM | Report abuse

I think the Dodgers, White Sox, Angels and hopefully, the Brewers. The fans in Philadelphia deserve a 4 game sweep-out.

Posted by: Pitch Inside | October 1, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Boz - This is really fun to have all of the Insiders SWAGs.

Don't know if you noticed but the top 3 teams in steals in the AL made the playoffs (TB, LAA, and BOS). All with steal % in the 73 - 77% range. For all of Ozzie's go-go reputation, his team was 13th in steals and last in steal %. The White Sox are the mashers in the AL, with 55 more HRs than the next AL playoff team, TB.

Red Sox team OBP (.358) was better than every Nat with over 200 plate appearances except Dukes and Belliard. The Rays .340 was better than all but Dukes, Belliard, Guzman and Harris.

Posted by: PTBNL | October 1, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

ooook! =)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 1, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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