The end of the baseball regular season is here, and all most of us can think is, “Finally!” I love baseball season, but this year’s gauntlet dragged me from late March to late September, so this year felt particularly long. It felt much longer because the Red Sox never really hit a stretch where they played exceptionally well for an extended period of time, they were just consistent. Next thing I know, I look at the standings and we were a 95-win Wild Card team. To put that in perspective, 95 wins equals winning your division, all your playoff games and going undefeated the following Spring Training for the NL West.
So here we are on the brink of October baseball and I’m as excited as ever. Every pitch matters, every stolen base is more important than it has ever been before, and every prediction I make will be more scrutinized than Britney’s latest single “Womanizer.” You want predictions? I got more opinions than O.J. has lawsuits, bring it.
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Philadelphia Phillies
This series is going to be worse than watching Danny DeVito in Romancing the Stone. Funny? Yes, but only because of how awful of a series this is actually going to be. Unfortunately for Brewers’ fans, CC Sabathia cannot pitch every game for you. However, he will be pitching at least two games in this series unless there is a sweep. Mark my words, if Sabathia pitches twice, they will be the only two games the Brewers win.
Bottom line of this whole thing is that outside of Sabathia, I truly believe that Philly can outslug Brewers’ hitters 1-9. Plus Philly has been here before, the last time Milwaukee made the postseason my mom was eight months pregnant with me.
The Call: Phillies in five
Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs
Let’s face it, the Dodgers did not make the playoffs so much as that they backed into it. I don’t like it when teams clinch just because another squad loses less frequently (as in losing seven out of 10 as opposed to six out of 10) than they do. Hank Steinbrenner was right in one regard, no NL West team should be represented in this year’s playoffs, but oh well.
I see Manny Ramirez playing out of his mind in this series, simply because Manny knows how to play out of his mind to begin with, especially in the playoffs. But he’s only one Man(ny). I think Chicago has the complete package, and last year’s NLDS lost will fuel this team to make it a short and sweet series for the Cubs’ faithful.
The Call: Cubs in four
Boston Red Sox vs Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
(The gods are going to smite me for this one … )
Pitching wins in the postseason. Pitching, pitching, pitching. You can hit your way to a hot streak in the regular season, but when was the last time you saw a team just swing their way to a World Series title?
That being said (gulp) I like the Red Sox in this series simply because of pitching matchups. Recent history leads me to trust Jon Lester over Jonathan Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka has been terrific on the road this season, and a game two start against a struggling Ervin Santana should be interesting. Then you take playoff god Josh Beckett at Fenway for a game three start against Joe Saunders, a man who has never pitched in October? My gut tells me that pitching SHOULD be able to help the Red Sox past a team that has owned them all year long. After all, everybody is back to 0-0.
The call: Red Sox in four
Chicago White Sox vs Tampa Bay Rays
Everyone has been wondering when the whole “we’re just happy to be here” phase is going to settle in for Tampa. The answer: round one versus Chicago. I know the Rays have busted their way through adversity all year long, but the fact of the matter is October is October. The White Sox may not have been in this thing since 2005, but they have enough players left from that team to remember what it is like to be cold blooded.
The call: White Sox in five
Top five games you can bet on next week:
5. Green Bay Packers over Atlanta Falcons
Look, I know Aaron Rodgers may be a little banged up, but the fact is Atlanta isn’t mature enough yet to show up against good teams. Sure they’ll beat up the scrubs, but in Lambeau, Michael Turner isn’t going to be enough. Packers by 10.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Denver Broncos
No, I have not been smoking crack. Denver’s defense is awful, and dare I say it, Tampa Bay is 3-0 since letting Brian Griese take over the offense. The fact is, until Denver can prove to me that they can stop anyone, this team is about as smart a Super Bowl pick as the 2006 Miami Dolphins. Bucs 23-17.
3. Miami Dolphins over San Diego Chargers
Speaking of Miami … look, if Ronnie Brown can torch New England, I think they have a shot against San Diego. Yes, the Chargers have fought their way out of an 0-2 hole. However, the defense still has yet to prove they can shut down anyone, including Oakland. I expect another strong game from Brown, and look for Chad Pennington to find Tony Fasano early and often. Upset alert!!! Dolphins 17-14.
2. Chicago Bears over Detroit Lions
This has absolutely nothing to do with Matt Forte being on my fantasy team. Plain and simple, Detroit is about as safe a bet as sleeping with Pam Anderson without a condom and expecting NOT to get an STD. Bears by 17.
1. New Orleans Saints over Minnesota Vikings
Um … this has nothing to do with Lance Moore being a recent acquisition on my fantasy team. Fact of the matter is the Vikings cannot score unless Adrian Peterson runs it in. Sorry Vikes fans, you’re in for a rough one. Saints 31-14.
Last week: 3-2
The year: 7-7