Monday, October 04, 2004

October baseball

I had some trouble putting a post together earlier today, but now that I'm home...I've moved on from whatever subject I was going to write on (truth: I can't remember). Anyway, I thought I'd write a few of my postseason baseball thoughts (for those of you I haven't already chased away due to the baseball talk) before I take on the subject of what exactly we're inheriting with the Senators. Mostly I'm trying to pretend that KC isn't about to move to 0-4...

First, let's get one thing out of the way: The less said about the 2004 Kansas City Royals, the better. 104 losses. Only one bright spot (Zach Grienke). Plenty of bad spots. With the Senators coming, I'm guessing I'll follow them less and less. The less said about the A's collapse, the better. What a disaster for Oakland down the stretch. I've been there too many times - watching various Royals, Chiefs, and (most heartbreaking of all) Jayhawks collapses. At least their fans don't have to worry about not making it out of the first round...

Now...in the National League, Los Angeles gets the joy of facing a slumping and perhaps even "rusty" Cardinals squad. While I like the Cards, who play a fun and entertaining brand of baseball, I fear that their fate may be the same as the 2001 Mariners, who struggled after clinching their division so early. Too many teams suffer the same fate and the lack of pressure down the stretch dooms them to mediocrity in the postseason. I think its the rust, which is such a struggle to overcome in a short five-game series like the divisional round. It has doomed many a top team over the years, and I'm guessing that the same will be true this go round as well. LA has a good squad and a top bullpen, and the Cardinals I think will struggle early. Dodgers in 5.

In the other half of the bracket, Atlanta (surprise, surprise) gets the red-hot Astros, who pulled off an epic comeback in the second half of the season under Phil Garner. Needing to sweep nearly all of its remaining games in the last ten days of the season, Houston pulled off a sweep of the Cardinals and then Colorado while the Cubs slipped and the Giants split its remaining games - just enough to pull off the wildcard. Houston is a hot team with hot bats and two dominating pitchers in Clemens and Oswalt. Traditionally, the problem with the Astros has been the "Killer B's" (Bagwell and Biggio) lack of offense in the postseason. The pitching has always been there. It's hard to bet against Atlanta, which seems to always manage to pull through at least the NLDS, but the one-two punch of Clemens and Oswalt should be enough. Astros in 4 - and I sense maybe even a sweep.

In the ALDS, Minnesota blew its shot for home field by losing its last game of the season and thus starts off not only on the road, but in New York against the Skanks. The question is: can the Twins win a game other than when Santana pitches? Nobody's going to question how good Santana is, but the Twins need a win from someone else - Santana can only give them two at most. Meanwhile, the Skanks pitching is lousy with a capital L and they limped into the postseason...but somehow...that Skanks mystique always finds a way. Skanks in 4.

And then there's the Sox, who get the redder than red hot Anaheim Angels, who nipped the A's down the stretch. Hard for me to look at this series rationally, so I'm not going to try. The Angels are good, but with me pulling for Boston...no sense trying to be impartial. Sox...in as many as it takes.

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