Saturday, October 21, 2006

World Series: Cards vs. Tigers

Since I put on the line for the first two rounds of the MLB postseason, I might as well test my luck on the World Series.

Detroit and St. Louis appear in a rematch of the 1968 series, the first one I really remember. I guess '68 has nothing to do with '06, but it's a traditional match up for me.

On the surface, this one shapes up just like the last two World Series. The AL club is steamrolling and the NL representative plays the pavement. In fact, the last two ended before I had a chance to get a good look while settled into the La-Z Boy. However, you can't really predict those things and we're getting ready for Game 1 so let's pretend we have a competitive series.

The Cards looked like they ran out of gas by the end of the regular season. Not only did Houston almost catch them, but even Cincinatti had an outside shot going into the last weekend. The Cards survived and went on to handle San Diego with relative ease. They also put the Mets on the ropes. The Mets fought back hard, but couldn't overcome the loss of too much starting pitching. On the other hand, the Cards' starters pitched the club to the league title.

Detroit is playing like it intends to never lose another game. Not just this season, but from here on out. The pitching has been dominating while the bats have come through with timely big hits.

I'm holding out hope for a good series. I'll take the Tigers in seven. That'll allow Jim Leyland to join former Tigers and Red manager Sparky Anderson as the only managers to win World Series with both AL and NL clubs. If it goes the other way, Tony LaRussa will join Anderson.

BTW: I've only picked one post series season right, but I've enjoyed watching the ball.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Great catch

Endy Chavez's grab has to top some sort of list of all-time great catches. Too bad the Mets fell short. Anyway, Chavez almost brought the condo down.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Crow Friday (don't watch if you have the bed spins)

Stones Friday

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Seeking redemption

Unlike teams that bomb out in the postseason, Ken Rosenthal and I get to play on. (I wish I could get paid to be wrong like Rosenthal.) Detroit and Oakland are about two hours away from first pitch and I can't help myself. I'm making more picks, hoping I don't serve up another high fat one over the heart of the plate.

Before I get to the teams still playing, I've got to mention Joe Torre's survival in the Bronx. While I didn't go on the record, I expected baseball's final four party to share the spotlight with the news of Torre's sacking this week. It didn't happen. George let Joe stay. The Yankees made the right move. If anyone goes, I'd say the entire pitching staff minus Wang, Mussina and Rivera will give up the pinstripes. Rosenthal says A-Rod is gone too.

The Yanks inability to bring it all home since 2000 can be traced to the pitching staff. Andy Petite and the Rocket are long gone. I think they's missed Jose Contreras and El Duque too. During the title runs the Yankees also got the game to Rivera with perhaps the best set up relievers ever. They've not come close to restocking here. I think the Yanks' soundest move would be to develop some young pitching and see if they can pick up a good young hurler for immediate benefit. As for A-Rod, I don't think it's a slam dunk that he'll be dealt. Someone will have to assume a lot of salary unless the Yankees want him gone badly enough to pay a chunk of his paycheck for another team. Personally, I hope they don't get it straightened out.

Now on to the teams still alive:

Detroit vs. Oakland--I love the Tigers' story. I only wish I had faith in them against New York. The pitching is rock solid and Jim Leyland has a magic touch in getting a team motivated to play a big series. Oakland boasts good pitching too. I'll roll the dice and pick Detroit to avenge its '72 LCS loss to the A's and take this one in six.

St. Louis vs. New York Mets--The Mets feature an impressive everyday lineup. I'd hate to face Delgado, Beltran, Wright and anyone else they send to the plate. The Mets starters did what they had to against the Dodgers, but two of them didn't last long enough to qualify for wins. The long relief is good and Billy Wagner looks untouchable. On the other hand, LA didn't have Albert Pujols in the lineup. Look for the Mets to avoid an outburst by the Cards' first baseman and win in six.

Please, no hate mail from Mets and Tigers fans. I have be right sometime, don't I?

BTW: Rosenthal's story on Torre has a glaring error in it. It says that the Yankees haven't reached the Series since 2000. They haven't won it since '00. They lost to Arizona in '01 and Florida in '03. No wonder the guy can't get his predicitons right. As for me, who knows what goes wrong?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Division series ofer

The St. Louis Cards just made sure I got skunked. I got zero picks right in baseball's divisional series this week. In my world, the New York Yankees would be preparing to take on the Minnesota Twins in the AL while the San Diego Padres and LA Dodgers would make ready for a Southern California baseball Octoberfest in the NL.

Here are the alibis. I didn't underestimate the Mets. I overestimated the LA pitching staff. I was too conservative to buck tradition with Oakland. They've found many ways to make their fans miserable with recent division series collapses, but not this season. It's starting to look like you should never pick San Diego to beat St. Louis in the postseason. As for the Tigers thrashing of the Yankees, I'm glad I got that one wrong.

I'm going to have to consult a book of ethics to find out if I'm allowed to make league championship series predictions since I didn't pick any of the four there to make it. Tomorrow's garbage day here so I think I'll toss out the crystal ball and pick up some Tarot cards on the way home from work.

Friday, October 06, 2006

North Dakota on warpath with NCAA over nickname

Backed by a fund raised by an arm of the University of North Dakota's alumni association, the state of North Dakota is suing the NCAA for breach of contract. The impetus for the unpleasantness is the controversy swirling around UND's Fighting Sioux nickname and the NCAA's decision to bar the school from using it for being offensive to Native Americans.

While the NCAA has banned nicknames for all members, it has allowed some schools such as Utah (Utes) and Illinois (Fighting Illini) to retain their nicknames following appeals. UND lost its appeal.

While I often dispair of the litigious nature of our culture, I'm glad to see the action taken. While some have misused American Indian nicknames, the vast majority of the monikers are used respectfully. To me, most of them invoke an image of a people who believed in their way of life and defended it bravely even though they played against a stacked deck. It's an image worth emulating.

Go Fighting Sioux.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

One of the best

Jerry Reed knows what to do with a guitar and Sousa.

Does a southern man need him around anyhow? Sure

I think Live Rust Neil Young was what grunge always hoped to be. I don't think they quite made it. Don't get blown away.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The call of the wild turkey, I guess

The feathers flew on my drive home from Madison today. As I began picking up speed after stopping at the 220/68 interchange, I suddenly got a glimpse of a wild turkey. Too bad for the bird. I caught the glimpse as he ran into my path. Almost as soon as I see him, I hear a loud thud and watch feathers float in the air. I t-boned him with my pick up. The next thing I see is a Chevy Blazer slow down just in time to avoid having the big bird plop on its hood. (If it had been a cartoon, the main course for Thanksgiving dinner would have hit the northbound lane, followed by cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes.)

The traffic was too heavy to stop, but I slowed down enough to see that the drama ended rather quickly, and for the most part harmlessy, except for the poor turkey. I drove on home. When I get out to check for damage, I find a few feathers stuck in the crushed driver's side headlight of my '03 Ranger. Not only did the the bird crush the headlight, it broke another piece that encased the headlights and grill. Everything broken was plastic. A coat of dust also covered the corner of the hood where the bird made impact. I didn't check my speedometer, but I guess I had gotten up to 50 by the time truck met gobbler. The bird had to be moving at a decent clip too. You usually don't see turkeys killed on the road. However, this one had his mind made up. Even if he had cleared me, I don't see how he could have beat the traffic traveling north.

On to the body shop. By the way, a Land's End winter catalogue awaited me in the mailbox. Nice parkas and squall jackets. Oh well, they'll have to look good on someone else. I bought a big bird instead.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fall ball is here

I'll admit to getting fair-weathered about baseball as the season wound down. After 14 years of getting up for Atlanta Braves postseason disappointment, I let the arrival of football season absorb all my passion for sports. Now the playoffs are here and I'm paying attention again.

It's hard to predict most first round match ups. Being best of 5 series, sometimes a team buries its opponents before you even have a chance to sit down and watch a game. Other times, teams will storm from behind and win a series that looks lost. With little insight here goes.

National League

St. Louis vs San Diego. The Cards played themselves right out of first round home field advantage with a September swoon. Tony LaRussa's teams have been known to lay playoff eggs. The Padres can't hit, but they have arguably the game's best closer in Trevor Hoffman. I'll take San Diego in five.

Los Angeles vs. New York. The Mets are the best team in the National League, but they're missing Pedro Martinez. Will the everyday talent which includes David Wright, Carlos Delgado and Carlos Betran fill the void? Also, the Mets have arguably the second best closer in baseball, Billy Wagner. The Dodgers appeared dead around the All-Star break, but the aquistion of Greg Maddux breathed new life into the team. They also have an impressive everyday line up and a rebuilt bullpen. With apologies to Joe Guarino, I'm going with the former Brooklyn Dodgers in five.

American League
Oakland vs. Minnesota. The A's made another strong run after a slow start. They have rock-solid pitching and the Big Hurt manning the DH hole. The Twins also overcame a slow start and boast a strong line up. Oakland has to prove it can win a first round series. I don't think it happens this year. Take Minnesota in five.

Detroit vs. New York. I love seeing the Tigers back in the post season. One of my first baseball memories is their '68 Series title over the Cards. They looked like the best team in baseball early, but they've sputtered down the stretch falling to the wild card and a first round match up with the Yanks, who look very good this year. It pains me to say it, but I'm afraid NYY will win in three. I hope I'm wrong on this one.

Play ball.