Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The GM's Playoff Predictions

Because this year's Red Sox team has been so boring and bad that they haven't been worth watching (sarcastic and critical of the "smartest fans in sports"), Red Sox fans had the ESPN 30 In 30 special to watch tonight. I only caught the last 25 minutes, but they were fantastic. Had to tell my roommates to shut up for the rest of the program at one point.

Now, on to my playoff predictions.

American League: Yankees over Twins in 4. Not a steamroll, but the Yankees are convincingly better at the top of the rotation, the bullpen, and with lineup depth. The Twins sort of have the hot hand as they ran away with the Central even without Justin Morneau. They went 44-20 in their last 64 games before last weekend. But the fact that the Twins are lefty-heavy and that Sabathia is lefty and heavy, I just don't like the matchup for the Twins.

Rays over Rangers in 3. Let's talk about the Rays: Better rotation that's probably more rested in the first place. Didn't coast for a month and don't have the best player in the American League banged up. They know that if they want to win, they have to do it now. Therefore they'll play like a team possessed. If they win Game 1, they might turn into the version of the Rays that may never lose again.

Rays over Yankees in 7. This could be an epic series given the Rays' streakiness and the uncertainty of some of the Yankees' pieces. But I think Pat's worries have gotten the best of me. There are some major problems with the Yankees' team, especially as they limped to the end, going an ounce of competence by Papelbon away from being swept at home by a dead team walking. I gotta agree with Pat: Just not feeling it this year.

National League: Giants over Braves in 5. Fans of the 1993 pennant race rejoice. The Steinbrenner book has me shuddering at how close Bobby Cox was to being the Yankees' manager for the last two decades. However, I'm going to take the team who had to fight to get in by playing .667 ball over the last month over the team that almost blew a commanding league by going sub-.500 since September 1st. By the way, the Padres? How can you lose ten in a row as a first-place team?

Phillies over Reds in 4. The fact that the Reds bounced back from a sweep at the hands of the Cardinals during a crucial late-summer series says something about their team. The fact that they ultimately blew out the field in the Central says more. But the Phillies, when their offense isn't completely thrown off by Tim Wakefield for a month, have the best offense and the best pitching. Didn't they throw like twenty shutouts in a row at some point of this season?

Phillies over Giants in 4. Giants run out of gas after having to battle to get to the playoffs and battle more to get past a Braves team playing for their manager in his final season. Phillies steamroll.

World Series: Rays over Phillies in 7. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo. Needless to say, the team might come in fourth place next year.

And perhaps the most important bracket: What's the best commercial out of the last four years? We'll put the "One October" commercials against each other in one bracket and the non-MLB commercials in the other bracket.

I say Dane Cook over the blogger in five due to the magnitude of the ad. Dane Cook became a punch line and lost 40% of his comedic credibility with his 2007 version of the "There's only one October" ad. The blogger didn't have the charisma or the long-standing memorable-ness. I don't even remember his name. Baseball Carlos or something? October Fairytale?

I have the Blackberry "All You Need Is Love" commercials in six because of the catchiness and the curiosity factor. You want to know the stupid thing the guy said on the date, as well as the sweet thing he texted. You want to know how to breakdance like the girl with the messed up hair or the guy breakdancing while hockey-jerseying his t-shirt over his face. You already know all that Frank Caliendo has to offer, so there's no reason to watch the show. Especially if it actually starts a month after the playoffs are over.

In the championship, I have Dane Cook crushing Love 4-0. I'm not picking on love, because I don't think friendship exists either. Seriously, though, twenty years from now we will still know how many Octobers there are and how intense Papelbon is on the mound.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

DV

I also watched the '30 for 30' last night. By 8:04 I already had the adrenaline flowing. My father called me at 8:12 simply to say, "I'm fired up all over again." There wasn't much in that documentary that we didn't already know, but it did remind me of what type of great character Kevin Millar was (and presumably still is). I imagine that's a lot like what Nick Swisher is for the Yankees. Too bad the Sox couldn't have traded for him, because as we all know they've had a franchise player roaming right field since 2007.

The craziest part of "Four Days in October" was that it sucked me right back in to exactly how I felt back then. When they were showing footage of Dave Roberts getting ready to go I was legitimately concerned that he was going to get thrown out. And I know how the game ends! Just an enjoyable hour, especially considering the fact that the Sox aren't playing baseball again until April.

As for the predictions, I also fully expect New York to run all over Minnesota. Sabathia will win today and that will take all the wind out of the Twins sails.

The Rays/Rangers series could be a good one though. Just because I think Cliff Lee is sneaky good. David Price is the big name and the Rays depth is at the forefront, but would anyone really be surprised if Lee slapped up an 8IP 2ER, 5H, 1BB, 9K game today? I wouldn't. He's really good. And that could allow him to pitch Game 4 and make this is a five game series.

As for the National League, I don't care. The Giants/Braves series is intriguing for all the reasons you've pointed out, but I'd much more enjoy it if a young Fred McGriff and skinny Barry Bonds were involved.

--the Gunn

TimC said...

I missed 30 for 30 last night despite generally doing a good job of watching. The series itself has been fascinating and the stories they have told have been, generally, very interesting (save for the "June 17, 1994" one, which was the JD Drew of the series, an hour of little effort, intensity, or caring on the part of the filmmakers). I'm looking forward to watching 'Four Nights'.

As for playoffs, I would love nothing more than a Yankees-Rays series. Sorry PF, and other Yankee fans. Actually, I would love nothing more than two playoff teams per league, but that series would come second. Still, if the Yankees are vulnerable I would expect the Twins to take advantage. Given that that may be the general feeling about them on the blog, I'll go Twins over Rays and Phillies over Giants with the Phils taking it all.

Two other huge sports stories I wanted to comment on quickly. The Moss trade obviously re-shapes the Super Bowl picture. As a Pats fan over these last four weeks, I thought he ran hard to draw coverage and free up the other guys. With him gone, it won't be as easy for Woodhead and Co. to run amok in the space ahead of the linebackers. But, like in the first half of the decade, the offense will manage the ball and spread the fun.

Two, the Sox ownership looks like it is moving in on buying Liverpool from Hicks and Gillette. We all know how Hicks tried to run the Rangers into the ground and Liverpool were looking to be in much worse shape so this is welcome news. The Sox and LFC have two of the strongest fan bases in the world so it will be interesting to see if the ownership tries to link the commercial interests of the two clubs together in the coming years, particularly in regards to developing the Red Sox brand in Asia and Europe.

Patrick said...

regarding the series itself, since i didn't do a series preview (very good job by dv here previewing all of the series for us), i'll offer a two thoughts that jump out at me as critical in this series:

- game 1 is huge. the big talk regarding the yankees is that they need to win game 1 behind sabathia. this includes me, i think it's a must. if they don't then they have to win 3 of the next 4 with sabathia only pitching once. that means winning at least two of the pettitte/hughes starts, assuming you win the next sabathia start. but then i look at it from the other side, and minnesota has to feel the same way. if they lose game 1, they have to win 3 of the next 4, with sabathia looming again after only 2 games as well as 2 games coming up on the road. with pavano, duensing, and blackburn starting the next 3. that makes game 1 huge, maybe bigger than it usually is. look for the first 3 innings to be key. if the yankees jump out early with cc on the mound, target field will be silent as thoughts of yankees dominance over minnesota will start to creep in. if the twins can get a lead in the middle innings, the place will be an absolute madhouse for their first outdoor october game, and their recently lockdown bullpen looming.

- the yankees were first in the majors in obp, the twins were second. the yankees were third in homeruns, the twins were nineteenth. both teams get on base, but only one hits home runs. teams often look to shut down what other teams do best. another theory is to worry less about what they do best and try to completely take away what they don't do as well (ala larry brown and the pistons allowing shaq and kobe to go nuts in the finals and not allowing anyone else on the lakers to do anything). obviously you're always trying to keep people off base anyway, but chances are the twins are going to get guys on. what the yankees cannot allow is to give up a bone-crunching 3 run homer to thome, young, or kubel. if you get into a 3-1 count with guys on you are better off being fine and going after the next guy. if the twins play their small ball and are also able to hit a few big home runs, the yankees are in trouble. the twins have to do the exact opposite. they have to attack every yankee batter and dare them to hit solo shots. if they are walking yankees and putting guys on that is where they are going to end up giving up a big inning. i see the home run as key in this series.

- leads after 6. both teams have strong back ends of the bullpen. scoring after the 6th inning looks like it will be tough on paper. you cannot expect to come back late in games, and i should particularly say this about the yankees since they have often relied on late inning scores to win. not as likely to happen in this series. the twins back end of the pen has been stronger lately, but it will also be a question of which pen steps up or falters in these particular games.

Anonymous said...

Pat,

The Bill Simmons routine has grown tired, so I'm with you on that. If I want sarcastic comments, pop cultural references, or stories about watching games with family or friends, I know I can contact the Gunn and get all those things from him. Not only that, but the Gunn is great at guessing song titles on the music channels on TV before they actually get displayed.

At some point, you have to realize the "Sports Guy" never played sports and has no connections with any college or professional organization that would lead to him having any kind of inside information about anything. All he is is a know-it-all pain in the ass Boston sports fan.

I would actually watch a Rays/Yankees series.

bandi

TimC said...

Fair comment on Simmons, PF, heard that complaint myself from one of my old Colby roommates. The caveat is that this whole series was his idea and I think his involvement in this particular installment of the series was probably written into the contract.

Simmons should stick to radio/podcasts.

Anonymous said...

Bandi

I'm glad that my prowess in the realm of pop and rock music is finally being acknowledged. We need to get you up to Portland again soon.

PF/Tim

I really like Bill Simmons. Always have. My freshman year in college was his first year at ESPN and I associate his writing with all the great feelings you get with your first year in college (provided you enjoy your college experience--which not all people do for whatever reason).

It's also important to note that, yes, the idea was his. And he really can't get enough credit for it because it's been a brilliant series. Still, I agree with you both that he is not what "Four Days in October" needed, but for slightly different reasons. The main reason is that he's just not a photogenic guy. Of just as much importance is that his voice is nasally and that's distracting. Whatever he added to the program as far as commentary goes wasn't particularly bad, in fact I'd argue that they needed some outsider, some fan(s) to talk about their experiences during those four days. They just needed different guys who had better experiences.

Also, Lenny Clarke seems like a guy I wouldn't mind bumping into at a bar, but not a guy I want narrating my life story. He struggled.

Lastly--the Alumni Game is November 6th. I know I'll see Bandi. It's time for PF to get back into it.

--the Gunn

jason said...

big game by halladay today