Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Hated Pool

October is a Cruel Mistress, especially if you're a Mets fan, and while you'd like to say you could sit back and watch the League Championship Series that begin tonight, but considering MLB's Final Four consists of three teams I despise, and the Anaheim Angels, it's going to be a little tough to enjoy things. Especially considering the way I think these LCS will play out.

Here's the preview you probably weren't looking forward to:

Philadelphia Phillies (93-69, 3-1) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (95-67, 3-0)

Ok, ok, so I don't dislike the Dodgers nearly as much as I dislike the Phillies. That doesn't mean that I like them, even though the whole "Great Betrayal" thing is getting a little stale, even with my Mother, who grew up in Brooklyn. My dislike of the Dodgers has been festering simply since 1988, when Mike Scioscia, Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser basically ruined my childhood. But try as they might, they just don't piss me off the same way the Phillies do, with their AL-style lineup and their loudmouth players who talk their junk and back it up, and, of course, Shane Victorino. These series have a habit of being swayed towards the team that has the hotter hand, and not necessarily the team with the most talent, and conventional wisdom would say that the Dodgers are the hotter team. They pretty much cut through a St. Louis team that didn't show up for the NLDS, and capitalized on a huge break when Matt Holliday dropped a fly ball in Game 2, a play that pretty much handed the series over to LA. Philly, on the other hand, really had to peck and scrape to get past the Rockies in 4, but when they came back to win, they did it in spectacular fashion, and did so aided by a suddenly rejuvenated Brad Lidge. Though Lidge wasn't sharp in Game 3, he did what was necessary, and those kinds of outings can build confidence. I hate the Phillies and it really pains me to say this, but although they may not be on the hot streak the Dodgers are on, they are simply the better team and I think they have proven over and over again that they have the ability to get up off the mat as many times as necessary in order to win games. So I don't see the Dodgers pulling this one off.
My pick: Phillies in 5. Split the first 2 in LA, but once the series moves to Philadelphia, LA has no shot.

Anaheim Angels (97-65, 3-0) vs. New York Yankees (143-19, 3-0)

I kid, but it really feels like it's true. The Mighty Yankees just don't lose very often, and they have bucked that trend that they had fallen into over most of the past several years of falling flat in Postseason series. You need look no further than their hottest hitter right now. Amazingly, it's Alex Rodriguez. It's the New Alex Rodriguez, who has turned around his October struggles and has now, perhaps, cemented his place in Baseball History. Of course, he still has two more steps to go, and the Anaheim Angels are certainly a formidable opponent, but you knew, in the back of your mind, even as a Yankee Hater, there was that fear. That fear that someday, A-Rod was actually going to get his head on straight and show up for a Postseason series. Someday, he was actually going to come up in the big spot and get that big hit. That was bound to happen someday, and now, it's happened. This stands to be a very tight, interesting series, and both teams are certainly playing well. The Angels did to Boston something similar to the Phillies: They played a series of close games, and proved themselves to be just a little bit better at firing that last punch than the Red Sox were. I certainly wouldn't count them out in this series, not at all, because they don't fear the Yankees and they play smart, heady baseball (Unfortunately, the Minnesota Twins also played smart, heady baseball, until it abandoned them), and have a roster of talented, professional and smart players who won't beat themselves. The Angels won't give the Yankees an inch. But still, I see one of those typical stupid Yankee postseason plays, like Derek Jeter leaping into the stands to make a catch and throwing out a runner at Home Plate (Triple Fist Pump!), or someone like Brett Gardner hitting a Game-tying HR and swinging the momentum the Yankees way.
My pick: Yankees in 6.

And, yes, should my picks hold to form, you can rest assured that I will not be watching the World Series.

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