Playoff Predictorama! 2011

Well folks, as the walrus said, the time has come. The MLB postseason kicks off today, which here at The FBB means it is once again Predictorama! time (playoff style.) It is hard to imagine that this year’s postseason could possibly be as awesome as the final days of the regular season, but you never know. That’s why they play the games, and that’s why we watch them.

And now, for the all-important prediculations!

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ALDS

Tigers vs. Yankees: Wait, the Tigers are in these playoffs? When and where did that happen and how did I miss it? I assume that Detroit will be relying heavily on the Justin Verlander magic in this series. I think (and certainly hope) that we will see some heroics from Mr. Verlander, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to save the Tigers. I predict that the Yankees will take the series, and Justin’s (well-deserved) Cy Young award will be Detroit’s consolation prize.

Rays vs. Rangers: I guess I don’t have to go out on a limb to say that one of the two teams I favor the most will be eliminated in the first round, seeing as they’re playing each other. T’isn’t fair, I say. We will soon find out whether or not Tampa used up all their fairy dust in September. I think they’ll have just enough left to take this series from the 2010 AL pennant winners. I say they win it in 5 games and the series clincher comes on an uber-dramatic walk-off suicide squeeze in the bottom of the 14th inning of game #5. I also predict that Sam Fuld will sparkle and that Ian Kinsler will somehow be the goat of this series.

NLDS

Phillies vs. Cardinals: Blech. If there is one series with not a shred of interestingness and with no possible happy outcome, this is it. The Phillies will win it. They will probably sweep it, if I had to guess (which I do.) And it will be super boring, unless Roy Halladay decided to whirl another no-hitter. Even that would be kind of “meh.” Just wake me up when this one is over.

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers: If I know anything about NL Central contenders (and I think I do), Milwaukee doesn’t stand a chance. If history is any indicator, look for another sweep. Of course, I don’t think anyone would be surprised to know that I am backing Arizona all the way on the NL side. If the Brewers did somehow pull it out, I’d throw a hissy fit. Get it? *Nudge* *Nudge*

ALCS

Yankees vs. Rays: A nation will collectively curse beneath it’s breath when the Yankees take it in 5 games, ending the Rays fairy tale run. Yes, that’s right. Unless it’s wrong, which it could be.

NLCS

Phillies vs. Diamondbacks: Since I based my choice for the ALCS on cold, hard reality, I’ll base this one on wishful thinking. I don’t honestly expect the Diamondbacks to win. The Phillies will probably clinch it without breaking a sweat. But since I don’t want that to happen, and because that is what everyone is probably going to say, I’m calling the Diamondbacks in six. There’s a good chance I turn out to be wrong, but if I’m not, how cool am I going to look?

World Series

Yankees vs. Diamondbacks: Oooh, you guys! De ja vu! De ja vu! It’s 2001 again! Only… it isn’t. I don’t think that Mariano Rivera really needs to redeem himself from that Game 7 blown save 10 years ago, but he will do it anyway. I’m givin’ it to the Yankees. In six games. Take that as you will.

Baby sloth: too sweet to pick favorites.

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“The Yankees is comin’!”

“Are you hinting, Mr. Butler, that the Yankees can lick us?”

“I’m saying very plainly that the Yankees are better equipped than we.”

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The Yankees IS coming, and they is coming to Wrigley Field. To honor the occasion, I have drawn up (what else?) a list. The hype surrounding this series is somewhat silly, and I have attempted to ignore it. Here you are.

(Five) Ways To Look At The Cubs-Yankees Series:

  1. A match-up for the AGES: 2 popular and historically rich teams + 1 historic, beloved ballpark = must-see TV! I am fairly certain only FOX, ESPN and the like see it this way. Mercifully, they will have less to babble about without Derek Jeter and a certain impending milestone.
  2. A match-up to inspire much salivation and licking of chops: The Yankees are currently 1.5 games back of the Red Sox in the AL East standings. This series is basically a golden opportunity on a silver platter floating down from heaven on a platinum-lined cloud for them, if they’re looking to get back on top. And, of course, they are.
  3. Something else to whine about: Irritable Cubs fans, the ones who love to hate on everything and everyone, will savor this chance to hate on one of the most generally hated franchises in sports.
  4. OMG, Squirrel at Wrigley!!!1!!: OK, so this one is just me. It is my ultimate baseball dream to see a former New Market Rebel become a Cub. Until this dream is fulfilled, I am forced to content myself by being excited when one graces the Friendly Confines as a visiting player. On a side note, I just realized the irony of the fact that Mr. Gardner has worn the uniform of both the Rebels and the Yankees. Civil War irony!
  5. * Yawn *: To the average weather-worn Cubs fan, this ain’t much more than another series likely to be lost in yet another lost season. Sigh.

Predictorama! 2011: Something stirs in the East

With the beginning of the regular season just a few weeks off, it is once again time to dive into that fun, murky chasm that is MLB prognosticating. Folks from here to Chula Vista are consulting crystal balls and asking the questions they (apparently) can’t wait to know the answers to… who will arise victorious in the AL East? How bad will the NL Central actually be? Who will surprise us all? Who will fail miserably?

I am here, of course, to share with you the divination of my own crystal ball… it may have a huge crack in it, but I’m pretty sure it still works.

Today we will kick things off with a look at the American and National League East divisions. BEHOLD:

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AL EAST:

Brett Gardner will steal 70 bases this year. Baltimore will officially change its name to “The City of Misfit Cubs”. With the additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, Boston will will 231 games. Toronto will finish in 4th place, winning 15 more games than any NL Central team.

First place: Boston Red Sox

Last place: Baltimore Orioles

AL Wildcard winner: New York Yankees

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NL East:

Raul Ibanez will take up playing the ukulele. The Phillies geriatric offense will be their Achilles heel… you heard it here first, folks. The Washington Nationals will regret signing Jayson Werth to that obscene contract by the end of the first week of April.

First Place: Philadelphia Phillies

Last Place: New York Mets

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R is for Rookie

In honor of the American and National League Championship Series, we’re going to take a fun little stroll down memory lane and revisit what some of the more prominent players looked like as rookies (or, even better, minor leaguers.) Why? Because it’s fun.

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NLCS

Tim Lincecum: Insert your own caption here. My head is about to explode with all the possibilities…

Jimmy Rollins: You know how in some sitcoms they’ll do flashback episodes and give the main characters ridiculous hairstyles to communicate the point that they’re supposed to be younger? It’s the sort of thing audiences laugh at because it is so silly and unrealistic. Yet if you put a braided wig on Jimmy Rollins now… would he not look exactly the same as he does on this card?

Harry Leroy Halladay:

Jayson Werth: I know that I have posted this photo before, but I simply can’t get over it.ALCS

Kerry Wood: Before he lost the baby fat.

CC Sabathia: His baby fat never went anywhere.

Derek Jeter: I could have produced an entire gallery of just amusing Derek Jeter rookie photos. Not even joking.

Josh Hamilton: The face is the same… the forearms, not so much.

Vladimir Guerrero: When Vladdy was but a laddy.

Cliff Lee: Clifton Phifer Lee looks exactly the same now as he did 8 years ago. Ten bucks says that another 8 years won’t change him a bit, either.

Postseason Roundup, Round One

2010 has certainly lived up to its billing as “Year of the Pitcher” in the first round of the playoffs. Roy Halladay did his thing. Cole Hamels: complete game shutout. Tim Lincecum: complete game shutout. Jonathan Sanchez: 7.1 innings, 1 run. Tim Hudson: 7 shutout innings. Phil Hughes: 7 runless innings. Cliff Lee: 16 total innings, 2 runs. CJ Wilson: 6.1 scoreless frames. Strikeouts are comin’ out the wazoo, and bases on balls are an endangered species. You know guys must be doing pretty well when you can make fun of Matt Garza’s 1 run in 6 innings. The only stinky pitching came from the quarters of Minnesota and Cincinnati. Even that wasn’t all stinky. Bronson Arroyo did alright. Seriously though, if this continues I expect the remainder of the postseason to be all kinds of delicious. (A Barry Zito-CJ Wilson World Series pitching match-up is still my ultimate dream.)

But how did my predictions hold up through round one? Behold:

Philly over Cincy in the battle of red-colored NL teams I can’t stand? Check. Kooky, quirky San Francisco over Bobby Cox’s Bravos? Check. Yankees over the Twins? Obviously. And the nail-biting down to the wire Rays-Rangers series? RANGERS TAKE IT!!! * Fist Pump * On a side note, if you are interested, tomorrow’s winning lottery numbers are: 10 14 23 26 31 and 42.

Here are some photographic highlights from the opening round series (one for each team):

Texas celebrates its series win with ginger ale so as to include Josh Hamilton in the festivities. A commendable decision, to say in the least.

You can cut your hair now, Mr. Longoria.

The San Francisco Giants offer a salute to Atlanta’s Bobby Cox after their series win. Classy.

Bobby says goodbye

……

No October smiles for Brandon Phillips.

Is it cold, CC?

See you next year, Mr. Mauer.

Post Season’s Greetings!

Well, my friends, the post season is upon us. What twists and turns lie in store for the eight best teams in baseball? I hope everyone will be watching to find out, even if the none of the eight teams in question hold a special place in your heart. There are still plenty of teams worth rooting for… and against.

I have collected a thought or two to share for each team, and list them here in order of least-to-most likable.

8. Philadelphia Phillies

I am ready for the Phillies time of greatness to be over. The team is so old that I have to think it soon will be. If their glorified pitching staff and punchy offense do end up carring them as far as is generally expected, it will be to my chagrin.

7. Cincinnati Reds

Call me a bitter Cubs fan, but I simply cannot wish the Red any success. The only thing I like about this team is Brandon Phillips’ smile, and I am sure that if they went all the way, it would break his face.

6. New York Yankees

I am not a rabid anti-Yankee person, I just think they should let someone else have a turn this year. If they were to repeat, I would be truly happy for one solitary reason (Kerry Wood, of course.)

5. Atlanta Braves

Sure, it’d make a great story for the Bravos to win it all in Bobby Cox’s final season, but… meh. It’s a good enough story that they made the playoffs, in my book.

4. San Francisco Giants

I am willing to let go of the Cubs-Giants grudgery of ages past (I can be a forgiving fan, see?) We did humiliate them in 1908, after all. Besides, they’ve got Little Babe Ruth now. And Buster Posey is fun to watch. And Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, and Brian Wilson are fun to laugh at.

3. Tampa Bay Rays

The [Devil] Rays spent just long enough being the laughing stock of the major leagues as to give me pleasure in seeing them experience some success. I also like Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist.

2. Minnesota Twins

Jim Thome has played in the post season eight times without ever having won a World Series. I like Jim Thome and this fact makes me sad.

1. Texas Rangers

I do not, in fact, like the Rangers any more than the Twins. But Minnesota won a championship in 1991. In Cubs years, that’s like yesterday.

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And here are a few bonus thoughts/opinions!

Match-up that would disgust me:

Yankees vs. Phillies

Match-ups that would bore me:

Yankees vs. Braves (The ’90’s are over.)

Rays vs. Phillies (So is 2008.)

Match-ups that I would watch with interest and pleasure:

Rangers vs. Giants (Think of the pitching match-ups! Cy Young winners Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee! Mimbos Barry Zito and CJ Wilson!)

Twins vs. Braves (Think of the catching match-up! Joe Mauer and Brian McCann! Actually, a Twins-Giants [Mauer-Posey] contest would be almost as agreeable.)

Actual Predictions:

If I get this right, everyone owes me a jar of Nutella. To form these guesses, I used equal parts common sense and wishful thinking.

NLDS- I think that Philadelphia will dispatch Cincinnati. San Francisco will edge out Atlanta.

ALCS- I think that the Yankees will beat the Twins, and the Rangers will upset the Rays.

NLCS- The Phillies will come out on top of the Giants.

NCIS- I don’t know, I don’t watch that show.

ALCS- The Rangers will triumph over the Yankees.

World Series- I predict the Rangers will somehow defeat the Phillies. They already beat the Rays and Yankees, so why not? Like I said, wishful thinking.

“Dress every day like you’re going to get murdered in those clothes.”

Every year the major leagues over, rookies are forced into donning ridiculous costumes on an appointed day near the season’s end. Yesterday was that day for Cubs rookies, which is what got me on the subject. Comcast Sportsnet has a short video, featuring the very good-humored James Russell and Brad Snyder.

The outfits are always equal parts hilarious and disturbing. Well… occasionally more disturbing than hilarious. I scoured the internet and collected a few photos from various years and teams, doing my best to exclude the really disturbing. This is a family-friendly blog, after all. Enjoy.

That’s Daisuke Matsuzaka in the teletubby get-up.

This man graduated from Princeton with a degree in operations research and financial engineering.

2009 Houston Astros

The New York Yankees know how to keep it classy: