Monday, October 12, 2009

And then there were 4...

Baseball's version of the final four is now set, and the run to the World Series should be an interesting one. I offer you this breakdown.

NLCS...Philadelphia/Los Angeles
The Dodgers played a great NLDS series in sweeping the Cardinals. I admit again, I never saw that result coming. I wonder now, how the LA pitching will match up in a longer series. It came to haunt them last year after taking care of the Cubs in 3, then having to face the Phillies and their potent offense. I will say this, the Dodgers have found a way to get things done all year long. They managed to not only stay afloat but actually increase their lead in the west without Manny Ramirez for 50 games, and just seem to have that ability to surprise.

The best thing that may have, and I stress MAY HAVE, come out of the Phillies series win over the Rockies, was a renewed confidence in Brad Lidge, and Lidge's confidence in himself. We know the Phillies have the offense, and starting pitching, but the bullpen has been an achilles heal with Lidge and Ryan Madson. I can't help but root for Charlie Manuel, a good old fashioned "baseball guy" who got the giant monkey off his back winning it all last season. Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Ibanez and Werth is a formidable 1-6 that not many teams can match up with.

Bottom Line:
Here's why. I would still take Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and JA Happ, over the 4 that the Dodgers will likely send out. Randy Wolf, Clayton Kershaw, Vicente Padilla, and either Chad Billingsley or Hiroki Kuroda (who's neck injury is healing) is good, but not as good or better than the Phillies 4. Also remember, that when you play games this late in the year in cold weather cities it comes down to starting pitching. I give that edge to the Phillies. The Dodgers will keep the series competitive, it's hard to argue that their bullpen as a whole isn't better than Philadelphia's. It's also fair to compare the late inning heroics that the Dodgers have managed, especially in walk off wins at home to the magic of the Phillies. In the end though, I believe that the Phillies are the better team and will advance.
My Pick: Phillies win in 6

ALCS...Los Angeles/New York
The two best teams made it through the Division round and now await each other in the league championship series. Is it me or do the Angels seem like a team of "destiny"? A team record 47 come from behind wins including the improbable 2 out comeback against Jonathan "Riverdance" Papelbon and the Red Sox. Then there's the Yankees, playing in a New Yankee Stadium which has been referred to as the "Jack in the Bronx" with all the homers being hit there, clicking on all cylinders. Big names, Jeter, Rodriguez, Teixeira and Posada have come through for them the entire year. Enough pitching and an emerging bullpen anchored by a sure fire hall of famer (but not the best closer ever as he's been described, what a show of disrespect to the greatest of all time, Trevor Hoffman) Mariano Rivera will make them a favorite.

Bottom line:
It's a great match up. Two very classy managers, both former big league catchers, in Mike Scioscia and Joe Girardi and two fine franchises over the years will battle it out. If the game one pitching matchup is John Lackey against CC Sabathia, all I can say is WOW. The Yankees have been the best team all year long, they have just about everything a team could want, pitching, power, some speed and defense, which makes them tough to beat. I think though that the Angels are equally as good. They had a terrible tragedy to deal with and lost a bit of focus after the sudden passing of Nick Adenhart, but they regrouped and climbed atop the West standings and never looked back. I think the Angels are the team to beat here. They may not have the names, but they have the talent. Torrii Hunter has been a stabilizing force, Chone Figgins creates challenges with his speed, Vladimir Guerrero is one of the best pure hitters in the game, and the surrounding cast of guys like Kendry Morales, Juan Rivera and Erick Aybar to name a few will get it done.
My pick: Angels in 7

Well there you go, agree or disagree, those are my thoughts. Your comments as always are welcome. I just hope that these two series are good and competitive!

Random Musings...
I know hockey isn't a popular sport in Southern California, but where I grew up (Chicago an "original 6" city) it's big time. I have to give a shout out to my beloved Chicago Blackhawks, who were down 5-0 in the first period, and fought back to win the game 6-5 in OT. The biggest comeback in team history. Ok, stop laughing and keep reading....

It was a pretty good Monday Night Football game too, I'm sure the viewership was down a bit from last week, for obvious reasons. But a hard fought game with the Dolphins scoring with under 10 seconds to beat the Jets. From the little I've seen of Mark Sanchez, he's going to be a good QB in the NFL.

Just wondering, if Brett Favre retires (AGAIN) what will ESPN do? Is he the face of the NFL? I mean come on ESPN, there are other good stories out there, and they deserve some coverage as well.

Alright, more tomorrow...have a great night!

Andy

2 comments:

  1. Hope you are right about your picks! It could also be a So. Calif. freeway series, which would be ...well, INTENSE.

    "if Brett Favre retires (AGAIN)"? -- Who is gonna believe him? The guy has perpetual off-season brain lock!

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