October 9 - Fearless Predictions, Part Two
Well, a Rhesus monkey flipping a Subway token (if they still used Subway tokens in N.Y.) could get
two out of four picks right, so I suppose my Division Series performance (two correct teams, no
correct number of games) puts me right there with Curious George – or, more precisely, after the
Yankees’ ignominious exit, Furious George.
I could make a connection between the angry primate and the Principal Owner, but, as my official 24-
hour mourning period has officially passed, I’ll let it go. And I’ll spare the gentle reader the 1,000,000
th opinion on who should stay or who should go on that underperforming club.
I think if I weren’t a Yankee fan, I might have been rooting for the upstart Tigers in that series, too. If
only to stick it to that Writers columnist who predicted indefinite doom and gloom for the Motor City
men following that insane hiring of Jim Leyland as their manager (see Milani, circa November 2005,
burying Leyland and anointing Joe Girardi – though I stick by that choice – in this very space).
But now to the task at hand. To beat Donkey Kong and try to actually come up with two well-reasoned,
thoughtful and completely sensible predictions. Or at least these:
ALCS: Oakland vs. Detroit
Surprise, the A’s are hosting Game One after handling the Twins thanks to the steady pitching that
was their trademark the last two-thirds of the year. The Tigers, though, despite their late-season 19-
31 finish, actually had the slightly better season record, playing in a division with the defending
champions and the 96-win Twins (and, yes, the Royals…). The mostly young (Bonderman, Verlander,
Zumaya, Robertson) but sometimes old (Rogers, Jones) set the tone for the Yankees series, and
there’s no reason to think they won’t be in control here. And there seems to be an aura about this
team, which has grown up together, gone through lumps together, and just seems to fit together that
could be something special. The A’s have displayed a lot of those same qualities for the past few
years, succeeding against all odds in the Moneyball era. But the Tigers staff can match the A’s pitch
for pitch, and may have a bullpen edge that salts games away after the sixth inning. I see a great
series, with the Tigers winning in six.
NLCS: New York vs. St. Louis
When the Mets were in the middle of their first sustained run of greatness in the mid-1980’s, their
main competition in the old National League East (you remember, the one with Chicago and St.
Louis and Pittsburgh but not Atlanta) were the Cardinals. Great battles, won sometimes (1986, 1988)
by the Mets and sometimes (1985, 1987) by the Cards. Then, in 2000, the Mets’ last trip to the
playoffs, they knocked off the Red Birds in the NLCS, four games to one, to go to the World Series. It
won’t be as easy this time, especially if the Mets’ injury-depleted starting staff keeps making Willie
Randolph dip into the bullpen in the fourth and fifth innings again. Fortunately for the New Yorkers,
there’s no dearth of quality arms out there, provided they don’t have to do the same thing for seven
games. I’ll take the Mets in six.