Part of me still can’t believe the teams in the National League playoffs. None of them were in the playoffs last year, and all have had World Series droughts.
Okay, Arizona won the whole thing in 2001. But that was a while ago. Not as long as the Phillies (last World Series appearance in 1993), the Cubs (1945), and the Rockies (never), but still worth noting.
• I’m actually glad ESPN isn’t covering the playoffs, because I doubt most of its talent even knows where Colorado is, let alone be able to name five players on the Rockies.
• It’s difficult to say, “no one gave this team a chance” in the National League, because none of these teams (with the slight exception of the Phillies) were on most people’s radar for the postseason. Still, the Rockies being in the playoffs, and winning their first game against the Phillies due to pitching, just seems strange. Jeff Francis was great in all but one inning today, when he gave up back-to-back homers to Aaron Rowand and Pat Burrell. The bullpen did the rest.
• The more I see of Matt Holliday, the more convinced I am that he’s one of the most exciting players in the game, and deserves strong MVP consideration.
• Great baseball announcing in the first game from Joe Simpson and Don Orsillo, who talked almost exclusively about the Phillies and Rockies. They didn’t talk about the Yankees, Roger Clemens, or the following Red Sox game. Simpson I particularly like, because he knows his stuff, but doesn’t seem to need to be loud. Best of all, no Tim Robbins in the booth.
• The Red Sox-Angels game was not all that exciting, except for Red Sox fans, who saw their team put away the Angels rather early in a 4-0 win. As someone who would take the Indians’ C.C. Sabathia for Cy Young (call it a Midwestern bias), I must admit it will be hard for Sabathia to top Beckett’s shutout. It’s got to be discouraging for the Angels to have their ace, John Lackey, go down so convincingly in Game 1. The series is not over by any means, but it’s difficult to beat the Red Sox when Boston gets that kind of pitching.
• Why are so many people picking the Cubs for the World Series? They won 85 games, and are now facing an 0-1 hole against a Diamondbacks team that tied for the most wins in the National League. Plus, Carlos Zambrano pitched great, but the team still lost.
• And wasn’t it great to hear Dick Stockton doing baseball game? TBS really impressed me on its first day of playoff coverage.
• As for predictions, well, I am abstaining for a pair of reasons. First, I picked the Padres and Twins to make the World Series last year, and they were bounced in the first round. The second reason is my Indians are in the playoffs this year, so my objectivity is out the window. As it will be tomorrow when I write notes on that game.