My Thoughts on the Post Season

Nearly everyone has heard the baseball cliché, “the season is a marathon” that is used to describe the way teams approach a season. It is usually called out to try and talk the fans or the media off the ledge when a team is not living up to expectations. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase used in connection with the 2009 Arizona Diamondbacks. I would have enough money to renew my season tickets for free.

Normally I don’t stop and ponder that quote, it is like the boy who cried wolf. You just get so used to hearing it you begin to tune it out much like my wife tunes me out when I begin discussing the needs for upgrading our Diamondbacks tickets to a better location.

Yesterday as the Detroit Tigers began preparing to meet the Minnesota Twins in the 163rd game of the regular season I stopped to wonder whether anyone on either of those teams still considered the season as a marathon.

After running for 162 games over the past six months, their season was now going to be decided in just one game. They were playing this game because after a whole season they ended up being tied. Suddenly those previous 162 games meant nothing. One team would end up losing this game and they would be sent home for the winter just like 22 other clubs. By November most people would forget that they were one game away from the playoffs. Instead they will be remembered as yet another team that missed the post season and will be lumped in with those teams who failed in 2009.

playoffs2009I was eagerly awaiting the Twins vs. Tigers game especially since Major League Baseball now had their own television network. What better way to show off their fledgling network than to show the play-in game leading up to the 2009 playoffs?

I put on my favorite baseball jersey and hat, grabbed a bag of chips and a large soda and plopped myself onto the couch. With the remote in my hand I started up the television and tuned into the MLB Network to watch some baseball.

Although it wasn’t the Diamondbacks it was at least baseball I kept telling myself. As the receiver tuned to the station I expected to see field level reporters giving insights into the game and perhaps a feature on the role the Metrodome would play in the game.

Instead of the most important and for that matter the only baseball game of the day, the station was showing Diamond Demos where Harold Reynolds was teaching the proper way to break up a double play. Are you kidding me? The MLB Network would not be showing the game and instead chose to show re-runs of these “educational” bits. No live cut-ins to the Metrodome, no studio analysis of the game and its implications to the playoffs; just Harold Reynolds telling how the game has changed from when he played.

After 20 minutes of watching this drivel I finally succumbed to the fact that the game wasn’t coming on. I logged into MLB.com and followed the game via GameDay. I didn’t even accept the offer to buy the rights to watch the game on my computer for a mere $14.95. Major League Baseball really blew this call.

To make matters worse, the game became a classic when the teams went back-and-forth with the lead and went into extra innings with the Twins finally overcoming the Tigers to become the final play-off team of 2009.

Now we know all the players and today marks the beginning of baseball’s second season. This time it is down to eight teams vying for the opportunity to become World Champion. The post season this year will be covered by TBS and Fox with three games on tap for today.

Two teams will represent the National League West with the Colorado Rockies as the Wildcard and the Los Angeles Dodgers as the NL West Champion. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t force myself to root for either one of these teams. Maybe the pain of seeing both of those clubs destroying the Diamondbacks this season is still too fresh a memory.

I’m not sure but I think it is a blogging law that every writer who writes about sports must document their predictions for the post season. I have enough problems without having to deal with the blog police so I figured I better put my picks down.

In the National League I like the Phillies to defeat the Rockies in five games. I might have gone with Colorado but they seem to have peaked a little early and there are question marks on their rotation with De La Rosa’s groin injury. The home field advantage and the confidence that they won last year makes me want to go with Philadelphia. If the Rockies end up getting to the Phillies bullpen they could steal a win in Philly but overall the champs look solid.

It’s hard to pick against the Dodgers, they have dominated all season and they have probably the best bullpen in all of baseball. The problem is that they have looked a lot like the 2008 Diamondbacks where they coasted the last half of the season. Manny Ramirez suddenly looks very human and the starting rotation looks very hittable. Having Albert Pujols and a starting rotation like St. Louis does, I am picking the red birds in four games.

In the NLCS, Albert Pujols will rediscover his home run stroke as will Matt Holliday and those two will reek havoc on the Phillies with the Cardinals beating the world champs in six games to go to the World Series.

In the American League I think the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will take the Boston Red Sox playing small ball and running rampant. Throwing two left-handers at Fenway Park will be the edge they need to beat Boston in four games.

The Minnesota Twins win was a great story and sets up an even bigger sub-plot to the series with the New York Yankees. There is nothing quite as captivating as David vs. Goliath but unfortunately for David, he has to face the likes of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira. The Yankees have owned the Twins this year beating them all seven times they have played. Home field advantage doesn’t seem to be meaningful in this series and I look to see the Yankees finish off the Twins in four games.

The ALCS will provide the perfect scientific environment to determine which is more potent small ball or long ball? The Angels have the pitching to stay with the Yankees but it will be the long ball that will decide this series and I think New York will out-muscle Los Angeles to win in six.

The World Series will be one of the classic baseball match-ups with the St. Louis Cardinals playing the New York Yankees. The American League has home field advantage due to Bud Selig’s insane rule where the All-Star exhibition determines the winner. This year it won’t come into play as the Yankees will take the Cardinals in six games and New York will finally be rid of the Joe Torre ghosts in the post season.

All things considered, there isn’t a bad match-up the whole post season. While I would love to be cheering on the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in October I can be content in knowing that there is still a little baseball left this year before the long dark off-season officially begins.


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