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.

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