It's time to preview the playoffs, even if I'm a little bit angry and a little bit bitter. After all, my dumbass Cardinals will have just about as active a role in them as I will. I'll preface this by reiterating that predicting a short series, or multiple short series, is pretty much akin to playing pin the tail on the donkey. I can say anything I want, but such a small sample size pretty much means that a great deal of luck will be involved. Whether I nail all of these or whiff the whole thing, it doesn't mean a whole lot. The odds aren't really in favor of the best team winning. After all, there are no odds. Other than giving the edge to teams with a strong group of starters at the front of their rotations, there isn't a lot I can do. And I guess there's the home field advantage thing or whatever. And seriously, why couldn't the Cardinals have just not been so mediocre? If they had simply gotten in, I'd be a lot more excited about 2010's edition of Horsehide Crapshoot.
But don't take this completely the wrong way, I'm still a little pumped. The playoffs always feel different, and there are plenty of elite players and teams on display for the whole world to see.
NLDS: Atlanta Braves (91-71, +109) versus San Francisco Giants (92-70, +114)
For me, this series isn't super exciting. Most everyone seems to like the Giants simply because they have a nice pitching staff, and I'm not going to disagree. I might disagree if the Braves weren't a tad hobbled and a tad underwhelming, but that just isn't the case. Lincecum+Cain+Sanchez+home field advantage=Giants winning this series.
Prediction: Giants in 4
NLDS: Cincinnati Reds (91-71, +105) versus Philadelphia Phillies (97-65, +132)
So I sort of hate the Reds now, but that is by no stretch of the imagination the only reason I'm taking the Phillies in this one. They've got Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt fronting their rotation, their lineup is at least somewhat healthy now, and they simply have fewer glaring question marks than their opponent. That said, I could totally see the Reds taking a game or two thanks to offensive outbursts. Votto's my pick for the league's MVP and Jay Bruce has really started to come around for real.
Prediction: Phillies in 4
ALDS: New York Yankees (95-67, +166) versus Minnesota Twins (94-68, +110)
Late season struggles aside, the Yankees are very much the better team. I might be a little more wary of picking them if the Twins weren't short Morneau and Joe Mauer wasn't aching. To win this thing, Liriano's going to have to dominate a couple of times and the Yankees are going to have to not score a billion runs against the rest of the surprising staff. I'd love to see the Twins take this, as it seems they just never make a deep run. That said...
Prediction: Yankees in 4
ALDS: Texas Rangers (90-72, +100) versus Tampa Bay Rays (96-66, +153)
This is my favorite match-up of all. Two very interesting teams loaded with interesting players. The Rays have been fantastic all year, and they are the better squad. The Rangers put runs on the board, they've got playoff hero Cliff Lee, and they have a couple of other nice starters behind him. I foresee some close games, and I think this is the only series that runs the gamut.
Prediction: Rays in 5
Now I have my League Championship Series match-ups set. Might as well go ahead and predict the whole thing!
NLCS: San Francisco Giants (92-70, +114) versus Philadelphia Phillies (97-65, +132)
This one would have sexy pitching duels galore. The Philadelphia offense gives them the nod, but honestly their rotation is in the lead too. I'm not going to give this much thought, as I don't think that it demands it so long as the universe is fair and just.
Prediction: Phillies in 5
ALCS: New York Yankees (95-67, +166) versus Tampa Bay Rays (96-66, +153)
This should be fun. The Rays have the better staff, but the Yankees have the firepower to make that not matter. With some of New York's shortcomings on the mound, I think this thing goes the full seven games, and I think some of the contests will be on the high-scoring side.
Prediction: Yankees in 7
World Series: New York Yankees (95-67, +166) versus Philadelphia Phillies (97-65, +132)
God, again? Whatever. This time the Phillies are going to get the best of the Yanks, though I think (and hope) it'll be a long and fruitful series. Largely due to the three-headed beast that will surely start all of these games for the Phils, I'm taking them in seven.
Prediction: Phillies in 7
So there you have it. Someone should disagree with me in the Comments section. I love it when people comment. It really gets me going. After I'm completely wrong about all of the divisional series, I intend to re-pick the LCS match-ups. It's not that I'm going to go back on my word, it's just that I'm desperately trying to hold on to baseball as long as I can before it descends into winter slumber.