Ignore the Egos and Enjoy the Show
August 6, 2002
If the greediness and stubbornness from owners and players subsides for a few more months, we may be in for some playoffs as exciting as last year's 7th game victory by the Diamondbacks over that team from New York. So even if you are fed up with the people involved in baseball and don't want to financially support them, at least turn on the tube in October and watch some free baseball. You don't even have to buy the products of the sponsors. Let's take a look at what could make this postseason so appealing.
The biggest reason for excitement: no dominant team. In the AL, the Yankees are still the favorites, but the Red Sox have added some hitting (Floyd) and middle relief to attempt to wrestle the division from New York. Minnesota has their division locked up, and Seattle is trying to fend off Oakland and Anaheim. These races provide the potential for several intriguing matchups. A first round duel between Oakland and New York would be tense with Giambi in the other dugout this year. Oakland (if they can make it) might have just enough pitching to pull off the upset in a 5 game series. Seattle will be looking to avenge last year's exit after a 116-win season, while everyone will be rooting for the underdog Twins to make it to the Series, possibly reuniting with the Braves for a rematch of the classic '91 Series. Only Anaheim poses the potential for a "who cares" series because of their lack of recent playoff history and relative obscurity to most of the baseball world.
In the NL, the matchups will be just as enticing. With 7 weeks to play, 7 teams still have realistic playoff dreams with only 2 teams certain to be playing in October (Atlanta and Arizona). The Reds and Astros are desparately trying to take advantage of the Cardinals recent slump, knowing that the wild card will probably come out of the West. With the D-Backs distancing themselves from the pack, San Fran and LA are left to fight it out for the wild card spot, hoping that someone in the East doesn't sneak in. What does all this mean? Well, Houston has never gotten past Atlanta in the playoffs, but the Astros have never had this much talented young pitching and the Braves have never had such an inexperienced starting staff outside of Maddux and Glavine. Nevertheless, a 5 game series will be tough on Houston. The Cardinals and Braves have had several exciting playoff battles, with both teams coming from way behind in the series to advance. Any series involving the Giants will be a "must see" with Bonds in the lineup, and the Dodgers always make for good playoff baseball. A potential Arizona-Atlanta matchup in the NLCS would pit 4 of the best pitchers in the league against each other, making for some great baseball.
With a myriad of possibilities still existing, the bottom line is that quite a few teams can win the Series without being considered a major upset. The Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners, Braves, Diamondbacks, and even the Twins have the arsenal to win it all with a couple good bounces along the way. Anaheim, Oakland, and the rest of the NL are still a notch below the top tier. This leaves us with many exciting World Series matchups, and a few not so good ones:
Yankees vs. Diamondbacks or Braves: Recent history with both matchups
Red Sox vs. Braves: The team that breaks Boston's heart vs. the team that left them
Red Sox vs. Diamondbacks: Pedro, Big Unit, Schilling, Lowe, etc.
Twins vs. Braves: Classic rematch of '91
Mariners vs. Braves or Diamondbacks: Uhh, Ichiro fever?
Twins vs. Diamondbacks: Small market vs. deep pockets?
Angels vs. anyone: Don't forget about the new Fall TV Season!
Notes and Predictions:
ROBBIE WATCH: .276 and nursing a strained groin
- Ichiro endured a mini slump and finds himself only 5 points off the league lead in batting average. Look for him to claim the top spot by season's end.
- Cooler heads will prevail and a strike will be averted. I think the involved parties finally realize what another strike will cost the game.
- Braves record since April: 61 - 23
- 2 teams, same situation - records without their top 2 starters:
Red Sox: 31 - 34
Diamondbacks: 30 - 33
- Boston will win the AL East by 1 game.