Disclaimer: I would have had these in *before* playoff time but I forgot my login information. That said, here they are in pre-post season form, a few of which are about to go horribly wrong.
TB vs TEX – This should be a tough series. It’s great to see Texas here and they are solid all around. I’m not a big believer in Tampa’s rotation, but they get it done. Tampa also had the second highest OBP (which the famed “Moneyball” book says is the key offensive statistic), and posted a winning record against the Rangers this season. Advantage: TB.
NY vs MN – The Twins seemed to live in a dream world all season—and that dream world is the AL Central, where Ozzie Guillen plays the part of the Wizard of Oz and the Cleveland Indians are the Munchkins. Also, every season a house falls on those plucky Twins right about this time. Not so fast though, as the Twins did post a winning record (15-14) against other playoff teams this year. The Twins have better pitching, but Yankees score too many runs, play well under pressure, and are just tough. The Twins are home but I don’t think it matters. Yankees seem to have their number.
CIN vs PHI – Cincy had a losing record against every NL playoff team (7-12), not that it really matters. I can’t get around Philly’s top three starters. Brotherly love.
ATL vs SF – San Fran has a losing record vs ATL (3-4), and the Braves hit better. However, The Giants are the home team, have better pitching and are riding high after taking the NL West, while the Braves just dropped two of three to Philadelphia as a precursor for more postseason dismay. All of this says that the Giants should take it, but the little man is saying Bobby Cox and the Braves.
TB vs Yankees – A battle to cap off a season of battles. The Rays fought three other teams with 85 wins or more in their own division only to finish with the best record. They are either exhausted or forged by fire. They Rays are younger, hungrier, and George Steinbrenner is a lot less intimidating as a plaque (albeit a huge plague). Rays win the series.
ATL vs PHI – Third time to the dance for Philadelphia? It seems unlikely since that feat has never been done in the National League since inception of division play in 1969. Never. You have to go back to the 1942-1944 war-era Cardinals, led by Stan Musial, for the NL to place the same team in the World Series three years in a row. History is bunk. Phillies went 10-7 vs the Braves, including a 2-1 season-ending series when Atlanta had a lot to lose. Phillies will knock out Bobby’s Braves.
TB vs PHI – I like the symmetry here: Phillies beat the Rays two years ago. Rays are back to avenge the end of their 2008 dream season. I hear the Fates whispering. But remember this: the last NL team to go to its third consecutive World Series won that series in Game 7 on an improbable “mad dash” by Enos Slaughter. That was then. This is now. The Rays had the best record against all playoff teams (21-15) and all of the other things already said. I toast the Rays, who, in Florida baseball fashion, win a title for their 10,000 fans.