With our beloved Phillies taking their tee times early this season, we decided to share with you all our postseason "predictions." Some of us care, some of us don't, and some of us even decided to take this assignment seriously and make actual real predictions. Who did that? Read on to find out!
A few thoughts on the baseball playoffs without the Phillies:
It sounds goofy as shit, but the truth is I just love the game. I could watch two beer league teams play and find it at least reasonably compelling. So yes, I'll be watching, and presumably I'll enjoy it. After all, I enjoyed every postseason between 1995 and 2006.
Then again, this might be a bit like watching a sci-fi flick after actually going into space. For at least part of the last five Octobers, I wasn't watching the playoffs so much as living and dying the playoffs. My beer intake this October probably will be about a third of what it was last year, maybe a tenth of the liver-pummeling totals that lubricated the World Series runs of 2008 and 2009. And I'm not an angry or rabid drunk; it was more like I needed the alcohol to stay, if not calm, then restrained at the marginal level required of someone who lives in a co-op.
In my more cynical moments about baseball I wonder if we fans are just dopamine junkies, groping for our legally sanctioned highs vicariously through the actions of physical freaks. I certainly feel pretty goddamn dumb when Jonathan Papelbon blows a save or Ryan Howard waves over the outside breaking pitch for a game ending strike three and I actually yell or hit something. But no matter: we take meaning where we find it and rationality, cause and effect, is way beyond the point. I think it's the absence of meaning that I'll be missing this month.
NLDS 1: Nationals over Braves, 5 games
I suspect these will both be very good series. And I'll admit these are more wishes than predictions per se. I detest the Braves, dislike the Nats, am mildly pro-Giants other than that jackass Pence, and the Reds are my second favorite NL team. Washington has the best rotation and worst bullpen, which should mean low-scoring, high drama games. Actually the Reds have the only particularly impressive lineup of these four NL teams.
ALDS 1: Tigers over A's, 4 games
ALDS 2: Orioles over Yankees, 5 games
Really no idea here, but my guess is that Beane's shit still doesn't work in the playoffs and that Verlander will go insane this month. The O's as we know shouldn't be here at all, and I don't think they'll be back, but it would be fun to see them dispatch their most hated rivals.
NLCS: Reds over Nats, 6 games
At some point, those young Washington pitchers will pumpkinize. Mid-month seems about right. I'd like to see Werth go off, though; still love that guy.
ALCS: Tigers over Orioles, 5 games
And speaking of clocks striking midnight... after dispatching the A's and O's, the Tigers will be loathed by lazy sportswriters everywhere.
World Series: Tigers over Reds, 7
Since I'm basically telling a story here anyway, the Series must go the distance. I think I just trust the Tigers' three or four superstars more than the Reds' half dozen or so stars, and Leyland over Dusty Baker.
But by then I'll just be waiting for free agency and trading season to start, concocting dubious trades involving Kyle Kendrick and Dexter Fowler, checking Zach Collier's numbers in the Arizona Fall League and quietly counting down the days to Clearwater.
David S. Cohen
A fourth or fifth place team over another fourth or fifth place team
A team with players I hate over a team with players who beat the Phillies this year (or vice versa)
The best team in the league over the second-best team in the league (or not)
The world fucking champion (of the United States in 2012)
Frankly, I don't care, and I won't really be paying attention much beyond the headlines. Growing up as a Phillies fan in the 80s and 90s, I got used to avoiding baseball in October. The past five years have obviously given me a bit of a different perspective, but it hasn't changed the basic ingrained attitude that I have that I just won't watch the post-season without my Phillies in it. In fact, in 2010 and 2011, once the Phillies were out of the post-season, I didn't really watch or pay attention either. The sting of the Phillies losing is mitigated by occupying my free time with other fun things. Yes, baseball is a glorious game, but after 7 months of following it beyond-closely, I'm happy to take a break. So go some-other team! Win. Or lose. Or whatever. I'll be enjoying other things.
Texas over Baltimore: Darvish will save Texas season
Atlanta over St. Louis: Medlen has been unreal. And it's Kyle Loshe.
As over Tigers in 4: by far the best series of them all.
Gnats over Braves in 5: I refuse to care enough or watch any of this series.
Yankees* over Rangers in 3: FHOFRI wins the series MVP with 2 game winning HRs.
Reds over Giants in 4: Aroldis Chapman strikes out more batters in 4 innings than Timmay and Zito combined
Yanks* over As in 7: FHOFRI wins the series MVP with 4 Hrs. 2 in the deciding 7th game, which he doesn't start, but goes 15 innings.
Reds over Gnats in 5:
Gio and Zimmerman both blow up from overuse (poetic justice) while Stevie looks on from Boras luxury box.
Yankees* over Reds in 6
FHOFRI hits his 8th HR of the post season off of chapman in the bottom of the ninth, pinch hitting with 2 outs, down one after Derek Jeter beats out an IF single with grit hustle and determination. Jeter, who went 2-24 in the series, is named MVP.
*I'm rooting for the Yankees. Sue me. I lined in Manhattan for a while. We're a big market team and they're the only one of us still in it. We bullies gotta stick together, no? Screw the 99%!! Also, I want to see FHOFRI get a ring. As soon as they're eliminated I'll stop watching, just like the rest of the country. Cause deep down, if it ain't us, I could give a rats ass. Catz out.
AL Wild Card: Orioles over Rangers
NL Wild Card: Braves over Cardinals
ALDS: Athletics over Tigers, Orioles over Yankees
NLDS: Reds over Giants, Nationals over Braves
ALCS: Orioles over Athletics
NLCS: Nationals over Reds
World Series: Orioles over Nationals
I have been starved for baseball excitement this season, and so I'm delighted to throw myself into the postseason and root for teams I like to do well and teams I hate to get crushed. I am a holder of baseball grudges, so there is no way I want to see the Cardinals do well. I'm still holding a grudge against the Giants for 2010. And rooting for the Braves makes me feel dirty. I could make my predictions based on which teams are going to do well, but I've come to realize I'm nearly incapable of doing that. These aren't actual predictions. They're "predictions." If more than one or two of these actually come to pass, you can assume that something has gone horribly wrong. Like, the Yankees and Tigers have been eaten by rabid, vengeful unicorns. Or they accidentally touched a cursed monkey paw and they all changed bodies with Mrs. Jensen's kindergarten class. Or they hit their heads on a bumpy airplane landing and simultaneously got amnesia and don't remember how to play baseball.
I'm a sucker for underdogs, and my postseason predictions reflect that. The NL has the Nationals, and I don't particularly mind rooting for them. The AL has the Athletics and the Orioles, and thankfully they aren't playing each other in the Wild Card game today. I want both of those teams to stay in it as long as possible. Choosing between them is hard to do, because I'd be elated to see either team make it far or even win it all. But if I'm sticking to my philosophy of picking what I want over what's most likely to happen, I gotta go with the Orioles. I want to see Jim Thome get a World Series ring so badly. Miss you, Jim Jam.
Okay, here are my "predictions" as it were...
AL Wild Card: TEX def. BAL
NL Wild Card: ATL def. STL
ALDS 1: NYY def. TEX
ALDS 2: DET def. OAK
ALCS: NYY def. DET
NLDS 1: ATL def. WAS
NLDS 2: CIN def. SFG
NLDS: ATL def. CIN
World Series: ATL def. NYY
I note that almost every outcome I predicted above goes counter to my actual rooting interest for said matchup, but it just feels like that kind of October.
There really is not a clear favorite this season, a position occupied (sigh) by the disappointing Phillies in the past two postseasons. But the playoffs really, really are almost a complete crapshoot.
The Braves are just a very well-rounded club with a fantastic bullpen, a good indicator of potential postseason success. While selecting them is dicey in light of the risky one game playoff, they just seem like the best team coming into the Weirdo Playoff Blender. And I think they win the whole thing.
Baltimore over Texas in the play-in game
Baltimore over New York in the ALDS1
Detroit over Oakland in the ALDS2
Baltimore over Detroit in the ALCS
St. Louis over Atlanta in the play-in game
Washington over St. Louis in the NLDS1
Cincinnatti over San Fran in the NLDS2
Cincinnatti over Washington in the NLCS
Baltimore over Cincinnatti in the WS
I have to root for Baltimore, because they've taken last year's (69-93)-1 to finish 93-69 this year. How cool is that. And they've done it with awesome guys. Awesome guys with awesome stories. They've got Mark Reynolds who took away Ryan Howard's single-season strikeout record. Three times. They've got Robert Andino, who did this. They've got Manny Machado, who is also 19 and also pretty good, except Bryce Harper. They have a Pythagorean record of 82-80. They've got Randy Wolf. Sortof. They've got Jim Johnson who finished with 51 saves, despite being the fourth-best reliever on the team. They've got Chris Davis, who is awesome and I should not of traded to Cormican because he's a better pitcher than Wilson Valdez! They've got Buck Showalter. They've got this place. They've got Boog Powell and his barbeque stand. They've got Adam Jones, who broke Baseball-Reference. They've even got Jim Thome, who needs no explanation. But most of all, they've got this.
As for the rest of my predictions, they're not really that scientific. Baltimore is an enourmous long-shot, but the vagaries of crap-shooting give them just about as good a chance as anyone. The rest of my calculus went "I dislike this team more than that one, therefore they should lose," more or less. Science!
The Orioles win the WC game based on the fact that Joe Saunders is so bad that he will get knocked out early, allowing the Orioles to use their real strength - the bullpen. Saunders gets beaten up, but only for one inning. The Orioles, summoning the ghosts of the 70's, beat the Rangers' brains in the rest of the way, ultimately triumphing when Jim Thome crushes a ball into the Gulf of Mexico for the game winner.
The Orioles then face the Yankees. The Orioles were 9-9 against the Yankees in 2012, winning 6 of 9 in Yankee Stadium. The Orioles win, thhhhhhhhhhuuuuuu Orioles win! And John Waters will celebrate with a short film entitled "Captain Coprophilia Loves Divine."
The A's will beat the Tigers in 5 games because Billy Beane's fictionalized daughter was soooo cute.
The Orioles and the A's will play some games and someone will win, with either outcome making me really happy. I predict the Orioles, since it will make my mom happy and my son, who in addition to being a Phillies fan, possesses an Orioles foam finger.
In the NL, the Cardinals will lose to Atlanta on a walk-off by the delightful Chipper Jones.
Washington and Atlanta will then play a series that will delight me, in the same way that a fight to the death between, say, Hitler and Stalin would be pleasing. Chipper and the Braves will prevail in Game 5 when Chipper's illegitimate child, Bryce Harper, fails to throw him out on a mad dash home from second, with Chipper reprising the role of Sid Bream. After scoring the go-ahead run, Chipper will make an epic play at third to throw out Harper in the Nats' last at bat of the game.
The Giants will beat the Reds because of some reason that won't matter, since the winner will lose to...the Braves! Because Chipper Jones will have an incredible NLCS, hitting no fewer than 12 home runs and playing like Brooks Robinson at third.
In the World Series, the Orioles will face the Braves. Baltimore and Atlanta will battle it out to game 7 in Atlanta at Turner Field. The Orioles have a one run lead on a Jim Thome homer in the top of the 9th, and the Orioles, will get two quick outs, then walk a batter, give up a single, and to the plate will stride the immortal Chipper Jones. The pitcher, so intimidated by Chipper, will walk him.
The next batter will stroke a single into right, scoring the runner from third and a speedy pinch runner from second. Chipper, celebrating the play, and experiencing a legendary culmination to his Hall of Fame career, will run into the infield to join the rest of the team in celebration.
Manny Machado, noticing that Chipper never touched second, will run over, step on the bag for the force out, and the inning will be over, since the runs never scored. The Orioles will win the World Series because of the play to be known forever as "Chipper's Boner."
St. Louis over Atlanta in the WC
Baltimore over Texas in the WC
I realize this may violate some unspoken rule of being a baseball fan, but I just don't really believe in Kris Medlen. And I promise it's not because I dropped him in fantasy and suffered an ignoble fall to fifth place. I'm admittedly having a hard time maintaining this belief while checking through his most recent starts, because lord he looks like an incredible pitcher. And he might be. But I think the Bravos have to be perfect here to overcome their middling offense (Heyward, Prado, and Freeman notwithstanding). This prediction may also be a factor of knowing that resident Phillies fan nightmare Brian McCann won't be playing, seeing as the Braves will be without their backup plan of just having him hit unexpected, mammoth home runs at the last minute.
Baltmore over Texas is likely part wishful thinking, though I have a major soft spot for the Rangers, but it's also one part feverish baseball logic. Darvish's pitching notwithstanding, these are two slugging baseball teams, and even if Baltimore's pop is partly Camden Yards centric, it's not like Arlington is playing like SafeCo or anything; I think they outhit the suddenly mortal Rangers bats. Much as I will posit with the A's, my smug certitude against the idea of a hot team last year ended up being equal parts infuriatingly wrong and embarrassingly wrong.
NLDS1 - Cincinnati over San Francisco in five
NLDS 2 - Washington over St. Louis in four
In terms of the first prediction, I'm not so hateful of the baseball-iteration of the Giants, so much as I am still mad about 2010. That means it's not so hard to root for them, outside of a temporal anomaly. Also, pencil me in as the odd TGP writer who wouldn't mind seeing ol' bug-man Pence get a ring. Still, I think the Reds are a more consistent team offensively, even taking into account GodKing Buster Posey and the random other streaky player on the Giants at any given time. The pitching skews Giants, but not enough to matter in the end. Still, this is one of the series that I'll probably watch most of.
That other series? Not gonna watch that one so much. I'm mad at the Nats, though it's a kind of simmering mad, and I hate the Cards just about as much as any team, non-Braves or Yankees division. So, this is partly wish-fulfillment, in the way that one wishes for a day old Hungry Man dinner over a swift kick in the crotch, but I think the Cards are depleted and not as talented (yecch) than the Nats.
ALDS1 - A's over Tigers in five
ALDS2 - O's over Yankees in four
I picked the A's here mostly because they're hot, and I'm trying to mix my old baseball wisdom with my newfangled computer numbers a little more in an attempt to live my own version of dialectical morality. That said, this is the Sophie's Choice of the playoffs for me, as, due to friends' rooting interests as much as my own concordance with WL's demand to see Moneyball: The Revenge, I just would rather see both teams win.
My dad instilled a number of values into me growing up. Some are kind of minor, some overtly political, some that don't quite jive with how I currently live, but there are a number (many of which he shared with my mom) that were kind of totemic, important values. A smattering: don't murder anyone; try not to steal from someone unless they deserve it; if they deserve it, don't steal from them violently or anything; don't feel the need to finish everything on your plate; and never, under any circumstances, root for the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Yankees. As I am not a sociopath (sorry Joe), I will be following these moral codes even against all reason.
NLCS - Reds over Nats in seven
Promises to be a good one, and probably the one I'll be most nervous about. I'm definitely a vengeance-based fan when it comes to non-Phillies October baseball, so I have pretty worked out teams to root against. The Yankees are detailed above, but beyond them, it's always NL East folks, even the ones who probably deserve a championship after misery on both sides of the US-Canada border. But whatever -- I hope Joey Votto hits ten home runs.
ALCS - A's over O's in six
I have a better metric than "hot team" this time around -- the A's pitching is better than the O's. ...wait, what do you mean that that's actually a pretty lazy metric?
WS - A's over Reds in seven
Here's the end point -- I just want an exciting World Series. I'll deal with an unappealing secondary match-up, and I'll be fine if things are dull throughout most of the postseason. But the World Series at least has to be engaging. I'll be hoping against hope that the NL pulls it out, and based on collegial friendship in my department, I'll be rooting with a friend for the Reds pretty strongly, but the realistic side of me can't help but see the A's as a version of the Reds with less top-heavy pitching and an only slightly worse bullpen. But I'm willing to be wrong! If Dusty just goes for broke and starts Aroldis Chapman in game seven, I'll die happy.
David S. Cohen captured my sentiments really closely. I'll just add a brief extension, thusly:
I'm a deep admirer of sound management practices, and as my professional world is consumed and challenged daily to fight the non-profit twilight battle of doing and providing more with less to people with less and less, the only effective weapon is passionate, sanguine, mission-driven leadership. It is rare because it almost never survives the onslaughts of fatigue, apathy, and stupidity.
Also, I like a good story. I love Philadelphia in all of its quasi-tragic weirdness. And I'm a proud nerd. If it can't be the Phillies, I'll cheer for the A's this postseason, and if they should fall, well then, I'll join David in such tasks as recommitting to the waaay overdue mortgage re-fi and the Budget-Constrained makeover it will fund.
Oh, castigate me all you want for making the fashionable pick. I understand that Billy Beane is so meh-ishly last year. But he does more with less (a $55MM payroll? is that right?) and sticks to a vision and with the franchise. I'm intrigued by the sequel concept of Moneyball 2: Told You So. He gets a fresh h/t while this High Maintenance'd cougar of a team we love heads into another off-season of cosmetic and/or surgery.
So this is really less of a paean to the A's as it is to that spirit of 2007. Yon Athletics have a lean and hungry look. I love the vibe they exude. Prospects can be valued; the waiver-wire dumpster and island if the non-tendered can be plumbed. These insights energize me.
Some footnotes: my brackets consider success by the Braves and Yankees with disdain and, as such, advancement by either club are abominations unto heaven, Joecatz's salute to Ibanez notwithstanding. I will be wistful and afraid indeed if the Nats win the series, but I suspect they won't and have a hunch something tragically unlucky will befall them. I pine for the tragic figure of Ron Washington. My feelings for the Giants are tinged slightly by my high regard for the city and McCovey Chronicles; our shared passion for Pat the Bat and one blog member's expression of love for my work here are not easily forgotten, but the goofy aura of Hunter Pence tamps that down. I admire the Tigers for not abandoning Detroit, especially as it no longer exists in any substantive way. And I will smile all winter if Jim Thome wins. For all the others, I feel nothing more than that violet-tinged hum of nothingness described in Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-5.