The media tries to make the Angels out to be some sort of Los Angeles professional sports franchise. This couldn't be further from the truth. I've lived in The City of Lost Angels (Get it? ‘Cause they're gonna lose!) for two years and have yet to meet a single Angels fan who wasn't directly related to John Lackey. Then again, I've never met anybody named Chone either. I've also never had an ostrich burger.
Irregardless! On Thursday night, the Boston Red Sox and Anaheim Angels kick off their third straight postseason series. The Angels are 0-4 in October series against the Sox. Is the fifth time the charm?
Now I realize everybody's saying the Angels are stronger now, their pitching's finally caught up with their hitting and this is the finally the year they barrel through us in order to be demolished by the Yankees in the ALCS. But I just don't see it. There's only one possible way Anaheim could beat us in 2009, and that's if they throw the only pitcher who can beat us every time at us twice. That gentleman? Scott Kazmir. When's he pitching? Game Three. Hasta luego, Angels! (“Hasta luego means, “We're gonna beat you in four games, jerks!”)
C – Victor Martinez vs. Mike Napoli: Victah! V-Mart has been the greatest addition to the Red Sox family since we signed Carlos Baerga. But for some reason, Mike Napoli always hits 30 home runs against us in every game. Edge? Angels.
1B – Kevin Youkilis vs. Kendry Morales: Youk! Kendry Morales has had a breakout year for the Angels, cranking 34 dingers and 108 ribbies, but Youk is still the better player on both sides of the ball. He may have to spend some time at third, covering for a banged-up Lowell, but Youk'll spend a majority of his time as the first sacker. Morales has been the Mark Teixeira for the Angels this season, which means the Yankees will be offering him a contract in two weeks. Edge? Sox.
2B – Dusty Pedroia vs. Howie Kendrick: Dusty! The 2008 MVP has dipped a little in the stats department here in 2009, but he's still one of our most dependable men at the plate as well as in the field. Howie Kendrick has a stupid name, so screw him. Actually no, he's pretty darn good as well. But Dusty is arguably the best second bagger in the game. Edge? Sox.
3B – Mike Lowell vs. Chone Figgins: Mikey! Mike Lowell has been dealing with various injuries all season, but the 2007 World Series MVP can still produce when it matters. Unfortunately, Chone Figgy has been producing a lot more as of late. Still, stupid name. Edge? Angels.
SS – Alex Gonzalez vs. Erick Aybar: A-Gone! Alex Gonzalez. Best defensive shortstop in the Major Leagues. There, I said it. Erick Aybar (more like gay bar!) splits time with Maicer Izturis. Both are decent, but with all the hitting we get from the rest of the lineup, it's worth losing some power for defense in the field. Edge? Push.
LF – Jason Bay vs. Juan Rivera: J-Bay! Juan's been decent, but the Canadian-American has (except for average) had a better year than Youk. Expect more of the same in his second October experience. Edge? Sox.
CF – ‘Coby Ellsbury vs. Torii Hunter: There's only one Kobe and his name is ‘Coby. One could make the argument that ‘Coby has been our team MVP this season. The stolen bases, the diving catches, the pop at the top of the order; ‘Coby's the greatest center fielder Boston has seen since Jesus. Torii is the second-best hitter in Anaheim and still a superior defender, but 2009 is The Year of ‘Coby. Edge? Sox.
RF – J.D. Drew vs. Bobby Abreu: J.D. No exclamation point. I'm shocked (SHOCKED!) that Drew has the third-best OPS on the Sox in 2009. Bobby Abreu's older than dirt, but he can still hit. Sucks on D, though. Edge? Sox.
DH – David Ortiz vs. Vladimir Guerrero: Papi! After his early-season struggles that the mainstream media shoved down your throat, Big Papi has been blastin' dingers left and right; just in time for Real Baseball. I think there might be kilogram of knee cartilage between Papi and Vladdy combined. Edge? Sox.
Bench - ‘Tek, Crotchman, Kottaras, Rocco, and Reddick vs. Mathis, Izturis, Matthews, Willits, and Quinlan. Having Jason, Casey and Rocco come off the bench is great, but the Angels are much deeper with Jeff, Maicer, Gary, Reggie and Robb. Edge? Angels.
Bullpen – Papelbon (despite his incredible struggles) is still one of the best closers in the game. Billy Wagner has miraculously been a better pitcher against American League hitting than National. And Daniel Bard can still throw it 200 miles per hour. Not to mention Okajima, Ramirez, Delcarmen and the rest. Even with a few stinkers here and there, this is still the best bullpen in the major leagues. Jose Arredondo apparently forgot how to be awesome in the offseason and the Angels are depending on a former Rockie to close out their games for them. Although, Santana coming out of the ‘pen could get interesting. Edge? Sox.
Coaching – Tito Francona vs. Mike Scioscia: Scioscia complains when his team doesn't get calls on the road; Tito complains when he's out of chew. Edge? Sox.
Game 1 – Jon Lester v. John Lackey: The Battle of The Jo(h)ns. (/hooker joke) If we drop a road game, this would be the one. But something about John Lackey just doesn't strike fear in me. If the Angels had thrown Kazmir out here, I'd be a lot more worried. Lackey's lacking that Ace attitude. On the other side, Jon Lester gets his leg broken in two by a Melky Cabrera liner and throws a six-inning shutout in his next start. Prediction? The Sox get at Lackey early and we see a little Santana late. (/guitar solo joke) Series: Boston 1 “Los Angeles” 0
Game 2 – Josh Beckett v. Jered Weaver: The 2007 ALCS MVP takes on Jeff's brother. Yet another Angel who can't spell his name right. Somebody get this franchise a baby name book! It boggles my mind that Anaheim won't put out Kazmir, The Sox Killer in Game 2 and give him the opportunity to start Game 5. Hey Bobby! Beckett's got a beanball ready just for you! Prediction? Jered Weaver leaves the mound in tears (sad, not happy). Series: Boston 2 “Los Angeles” 0
Game 3 – Clay Buchholz v. Scott Kazmir: The hottest pitcher in Boston (recent performance-wise, not looks-wise) against the only man who can regularly put down the Sox. Great rotation management, Scioscia. Really appreciate the help. Prediction? A pitching battle, that we barely lose 1-0 on a stupid late dribbler by Lowell. Series: Boston 2 “Los Angeles” 1
Game 4 – Daisuke Matsuzaka v. Joe Saunders: If we're down 2-1, Francona puts Lester on the mound for this one. If we're up, we gotta conserve our lefty for New York. Dice-K should get the start against the elusive Joe Saunders. I'm just saying that, ‘cause I really don't know anything about the guy. Pretty sure we've beaten him before, though. Prediction: A vintage 345-pitch Dice-K performance. No decisions for everyone! Series: Boston 3 “Los Angeles” 1
Series: Red Sox over Angels 3-1. This series could easily go five games, but I think we'll silence the critics with an easy four-gamer; before we play THE GREATEST TEAM IN THE HISTORY OF SPORT! I really don't see how we beat these Yankees. They'll sweep the Twins/Tigers (Twigers?) and then they'll probably sweep us. They really are the greatest baseball players to ever walk the field.