Some experts rely on statistics to make their predictions this time of year, but it should be noted that Baseball Prospectus, that wonderland of numbers, still insists that the 2005 White Sox had only a 98% chance of winning the division – and that was two days after they actually did clinch the division. Instead, we’ll rely on those two old standbys of gut feeling and nonsensical lunatic ravings. So without further ado, here we go:
AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES
Indians vs. Yankees: Cleveland comes out to a commanding 2-0 lead, but at a crucial moment in game 3 at Yankee Stadium, a single play will reverse both clubs’ fortunes. This play will immediately be reduced to a two-word summation and join The Drive, The Fumble, The Mesa and The Shot in the litany of the Church of God Hates Cleveland Sports. Yankees in 5.
Red Sox vs. Angels: Two teams the White Sox once steamrolled on their way to glory square off in what might actually be the only good first-round series. Boston has a mighty front three in Beckett, Matsuzaka and Schilling, but the Angels have the most well-rounded team in the game. Besides, it’s been a lot of fun to root against the Red Sox ever since they became Yankees Lite. Angels in 4.
NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES
Cubs vs. Diamondbacks: Note to Cubs fans: what last year’s Cardinals team, the White Sox team before that and the Red Sox team before that may or may not have done has absolutely no bearing on what happens this fall. None. It is not your turn, because it’s never anyone’s turn. This is not your year, because it’s never anyone’s year. There is no curse. There are no baseball gods. Start rounding up unsuspecting fans so you have someone to blame for the small bears’ on-field shortcomings besides the actual players, coaches or front office personnel involved. Finishing ahead of the Brewers and Cardinals and backdooring your way to October with 85 wins makes you just about as good as third place in any other division. Your team is terrible and does not deserve to be playing right now. D-Backs in 3.
Rockies vs. Phillies: The Rockies rode a tremendous wave down the stretch and capped it with an unlikely win over San Diego; the Phillies got in by kicking the Mets while they were down. The Rockies drew 4.5 million fans in their inaugural season; Phillies fans slashed Terry Francona’s tires on Fan Appreciation Day at Veterans’ Stadium – while he still manager of the Phillies. Conventional wisdom says to back the team from the angriest city, so this one should be a no-brainer. Phillies in 4.
Now watch what happens. Just to add insult to the injuries that was this season, it’s Indians-Cubs in the World Series and we Sox fans are forced to hope they both manage to tank the whole thing. Go Diamondbacks!