Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Playoff Bracket Worthy of March

It took over a half a year for us to get here and it was well worth the wait. The post season matchups have all of the necessary components for one of the best in history. I know that’s saying a lot but before you rain down the post to the contrary hear me out, and look at the matchups. Firstly, the September appetizer was one of the best ever, going down to the final week/day before the positions were decided and that just rolled into the wild card games where one home team (KC) had to come back multiple times before getting the walkoff hit and in the other game a pitching gem by a road club that sent thousands home stunned. A little something for everyone that left us with a playoff bracket worthy of the one that takes place in March. (3) Detroit at (2) Baltimore –The Orioles are hosting an ALDS for the second time in 3 years coming off a prior 15-year playoff drought. They are the AL East division winners, by a landslide, with the baseball world wondering how they did it. They don’t have a great rotation, deep lineup, or bullpen but they do have a deep pitching staff, great defense, and the most home runs in baseball. Oh, and they’re the best story left outside of Kansas City. On the other side is the combination of where the Lumber Company meets Rocketdyne. There is so much wood in Detroit lineup that their home games could be protested by environmental groups, Victor M, Cabrera, JDM, with 32, 25, and 23 homers each, add Hunter and Kinsler at 17, and 3 hitters hit better than .300 and you’ve got one Excedrin headache staring at you from top to bottom. Just for good measure the Tigers will send out the last three Cy Young award winners consecutively for the first time in history. Really? On Paper this should be a sweep but rest assured this series may be being played at two of the most modern and picturesque ballparks but this is ol’ school Sparky Anderson vs. Earl Weaver and will probably go six or seven. Our Pick, the Tigers. (5) Kansas City at (1) Los Angeles Angels – The Royals are the “feel good” story of the post season, making their first appearance since before most of their was born going up against the club with the best record in all of baseball with some future hall members and the reigning MVP in their lineup. Much like the afore mentioned Orioles, ya kinda’ wonder how the Royals even got here. They’re 14th in the league in home runs, 19th in slugging pct, and their best pitcher in recent years signed with a team that could be representing the National League in the World Series. But they hit the ball (4th in avg.) and then when they get on they steal bases, run plays, manufacture runs, and generally make life miserable for opposing pitchers. Chicks may dig the long ball but these guys are fun to watch. On the other side are the Angels whom have consistently played the best baseball in the majors of any team this season. Even when the A’s looked like they were positioned to run away with the divison early on in the year, the Angels not only gunned them down but left them in their wake, winning the division by a massive 10-game margin. An experienced club with a lethal combination of pitching, hitting, and coaching whom are not a bit nostalgic. We like the Angels to end the dream but leave them with story of a great season. (6) San Francisco at (1) Washington – I gotta’ tell ya, I’ve looked up and down the Giants roster, particularly now with the loss of Angel Pagan and Hector Sanchez and I can’t figure out how they keep winning games, in fact they’re 7-0 in ‘close out’ games. A club so seemingly taken right out of the book “Money Ball” that I expect to see Brad Pitt running onto the field after each big win. This is another series where on paper you figure it may only take the Nationals 3 or 4 games but that’s what makes the GMen so dangerous as many, like myself, simply look past them. On the other side of the diamond are the Nats that simply dominated the NL West taking the flag by an egregious 17 games en route to the best record in the NL. Last the decision to shut down Stephen Strasberg prior to the post season back in 2012 will be second guessed every day until they throw out the first pitch to start this series. The last time they were in the postseason was in 2012, when their bullpen blew up in the NLDS against the Cardinals, including in the decisive Game 5. This season, that same bullpen ranks among the league leaders, and looks even stronger now that Drew Storen has replaced Rafael Soriano as the team’s closer. The Nats seem to know what it will take to move on to the NLCS and beyond and believe this team could bring the city it’s first championship in 90 years. We’re with them, at least for this step. (3) St. Louis at (2) Los Angeles Dodgers – Doesn’t it seem like these two meet in the playoffs every year?? The storyline for this series is poignantly obvious, if the Cards are going to advance they’ll need to cut one of the heads off the two-headed monster that is Kershaw-Greinke something that most clubs haven’t been able to do. In a three-game series it almost seems unfair but if there is any team that has the Dodgers number it’s the Cards, winners of 3 out of 4 series including the NLCS last year. Much has been written about the how LA has broken the bank to win ‘now’ and the pressure that has come with that, with many players publicly stating anything less than a World Series win, would be considered a failure. This Dodger team has been Jeckyl & Hyde all season, capable of to putting up a batting lineup where there has been no place to hide and the run come through like the California sun and sometimes it dries up like the California drought. Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp are the wild cards in this as they have been all year. If they play even ¾ of their potential it will be a short series coming out in their favor, however if the ‘Wild Horse’ is tamed or makes mental mistakes that cost his club potential runs the Cardinals won’t be very forgiving. We like the Dodgers to get that boost from winning game 1 (LS is 24-3 when Kershaw starts) and from there closing the deal in 4. Get all of the scores, stats, highlights, and previews of every playoff game here.

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