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Taking On Sheinin, Boz, and Probably Regretting It

Let me be perfectly clear about something, Pt. II: My baseball knowledge pales in comparison to that of Dave Sheinin, whose baseball knowledge pales in comparison to that of Tom Boswell, whose baseball knowledge pales in comparison to nobody but Bill James, and even on that one might get you an argument, because I doubt Bill James wears a pair of tan shoes that have faux baseball seams woven into them. Anyway, that's just my long-winded means of warning you not to take this advice seriously. If you have any money left, don't stake it on the advice herein. I saw about 20 televised minutes of Tim Kurkjian while on the treadmill this morning; that's the extent of my expertise.

Now, some first-round predictions...

We'll start with the series I'll be covering tonight: Cub-Dodgers. Right now, I'm all swept up in Wrigley love -- read this beautiful hagiography, if you want something similar -- and I gotta say, things just seem primed for a Cubs' miracle. They've got the best lineup in the National League, no question. They've got the best bullpen. Even their No. 4 starter, Ted Lilly, won 17 games. If they get past the Dodgers, I see them winning the NL. But Los Angeles, in the last month, has been pitching better than anybody. Derek Lowe, the league's best pitcher dating back to August, goes tonight, which means that Chicago will be lucky to have one run entering the eighth. They follow that with Billingsley and Kuroda -- yes, Kershaw and Maddux are in the pen -- and that will be enough to neutralize the Cubbies lineup. Chicago will need to match the Dodgers pitch-for-pitch. If Carlos Zambrano is healthy and strong, it can happen. I'll say it does... but barely. In the best series of the first round, Chicago takes it in five.

Philly fans, too, are hoping these playoffs can overwrite a history of misfortune -- though let's be honest: Their gripes are petty compared with those of the Cubbies' devotees. Plus, any team with Jamie Moyer going strong at 45 can't say it's been neglected by God's graces. Philadelphia gets the perfect situation here: The Brewers have little pitching but for CC, and though no doubt Dale Sveum will try to use that left arm as often as he uses his BlackBerry, it won't be enough. Milwaukee is powerful, but can't out-mash the Phillies. Philadelphia starts strong tonight and doesn't look back, taking the series in three.

The Angels, who play the Red Sox in the first round, are certainly the AL's most complete team. The Sox would normally present a dynamite challenge, but Josh Beckett is battling oblique problems, which means he might start in Game 3... if at all, and by then the erstwhile Anaheimers will already have their grips on this one. Let's say the Angeles sneak away in four.

Finally, we've got the White Sox and Rays. This seems like the hardest first-round match-up to forecast, because both teams come in riding very different waves of momentum, and whether those waves break or surge remains impossible to know. Do the White Sox, for instance, follow the Colorado script from '07 and take their down-to-the-wire win-or-die act straight into the postseason? Or does the grind of those last few days finally catch up to them? And do the Rays, for instance, keep going as the AAU superstar team too young to know what it's really doing? Or does the pressure finally wake them up and tighten them up? Chicago is the pick here, in five. The veterans carry the ChiSox, same as they did last night, and Tampa comes back stronger next year.

By Chico Harlan  |  October 1, 2008; 8:53 AM ET
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Chico: It'll be interesting to see which Scott Kazmir shows up in the playoffs. He's been pretty rough since June. This will be the 4 starter series in the AL, too, as the LAA have chosen to go with the longer series that allows for 3 starters. Sonnanstine has had some great starts down the stretch. Starting Vazquez at the Trop game 1 is a shrewd move if Shields goe sin game 1 for the Rays. Then, if Kazmir loses his start at home (game 2?) to Floyd, and the ChiSox head back 1-1, the pitching matchups favor the ChiSox in 4, with Sonnanstine playing the role of Nick Blackburn to John Danks.

Posted by: PTBNL | October 1, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Chico! Good comments, but . . .

You wrote: Philly fans, too, are hoping these playoffs can overwrite a history of misfortune -- though let's be honest: Their gripes are petty compared with those of the Cubbies' devotees.

Petty? The Phillies have lost more games in the history of professional sports than any other team. More than the Cubs! That's a pretty good gripe, thank you very much. Yes, we've been to the post season a few times (and only one WS victory), but overall the Phillies have a terrible history and a lousy legacy.

At least the Cubs - and their terribly annoying fans - have had the "lovable losers" moniker, a great stadium, a huge fan base, and Harry Carey's legacy to sustain them. The Phillies? For most seasons, and most of my life, they're just losers in a football town (it is not uncommon to hear E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES! chants at Phillies games).

Posted by: Philly Phan in Phairfax | October 1, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

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