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2008 MLB Playoff Predictions

Sept 30th, 2008 – The Regular Season is Over. See You Next Spring Baseball

Let’s say you are one of those rare individuals who still have a job.

That means, almost no matter how hard you try, probably for you watching baseball is over for this year.

It was great while it lasted wasn’t it? Each division in the game was a battle, most just decided through the last few weeks or even days. We’ve all been stuck to the couch hoping for our preferred outcomes and now that everything is decided, and the fun really begins, baseball throws a high hard one to our collective noggins and drops us like we’ve been shot.

First, they give us the dreaded wild card series. There is no doubt that wild card races have made the regular season a much more interesting proposition. More teams involved in the pennant races means more fans are engaged longer. That said, they also suck some of the drama from tight division races.

How long ago was it known (even by the deniers in New York) that both the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays were going to the post-season? Regardless who finished second in the AL East, they were going to be the wild card, rendering what could have been a real nail-biter of a race essentially meaningless.

Then there is the fact that sometimes (well, a lot actually) not always the best team wins.

After baseball went to an eight-team playoff format, the sensibility of the entire game changed. Once upon a time baseball was dominated by teams who played the best over the entire season, April to September. Now the World Series can be won by a regular season underachiever who simply was hot at the right time – the 1997 and 2003 Florida Marlins, the 2004

Boston Red Sox and the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals come to mind.

Seriously, do you think the Cardinals were the best team in baseball that year when their regular season record was 83-78, a paltry five games over .500? No, they went through the wild card route, where luck and timing were more important than being consistently good.

Conflicted? Well, here’s what settles it for me. It may add to the regular season, but detract from the post-season, but the wild card also provides fans with something that has been missing since TV and greed took over the game: afternoon baseball.

Once upon a time nothing was better than sneaking out of class or skipping out of work early to take in an afternoon playoff game. At least we get to do that for the first round. As for the rest of the playoffs, that fell by the wayside after MLB made its unholy alliance with Fox television and the decision was made to turn baseball’s playoffs into a prime time event.

What has that done to the game? Now the first pitch isn’t thrown until everything else is pitched. For a game already starting after most kids go to bed, do we really need a pre-game show?

Two teams we are all completely familiar with, who are playing game two of a series, do not need a ½-hour introduction? Money talks and sensibility walks when it comes to justifying a billion-dollar plus broadcast deal. The powers that be at Fox don’t think there is enough advertising allowed during the game so they have to open up each contest with tons of ads interrupted by very little, and unnecessary, insight. Check the schedule for this week. Game 2 of the NLDS between the Cubs and Dodgers is set to start at 9:37 p.m., and that’s local time.

How many in the east are going to tune in what could be the best series of the opening round when it starts half an hour before most adults hit the wrapper?

Then when the thing finally gets underway we have to grind our teeth through Fox announcers saying stuff like, “this pitching change is brought to you by Depends, the adult diaper you can count on.” Or what’s even more vomitous, watching a Fox “star” like Ryan Seacrest interviewed in the stands to give his compelling insight on what he thinks Dodgers manager Joe Torre should do next.

We all will struggle to take in as much as we can of course. Baseball’s playoffs are a tradition not to be missed.

It’s just so annoying that they make it so hard to do.

Predictions:

ALDS:

Angels vs. Red Sox

The only thing stopping the Angels from a sweep is Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Rays vs. Twins/White Sox

This one should be very similar to Thursday night’s VP debate. Whether the underdog is Minnesota or Chicago, if they win, it would be a miracle. Tampa sweeps.

NLDS: Cubs vs. Dodgers

Will Manny Ramirez, Joe Torre and the Dodgers be the ones to keep the Cubs from their first World Series in 100 years? Nope – Cubs in five.

NLDS:

Phillies vs. Brewers

Despite the Brewers having CC Sabathia, the Phillies have the better pitching staff. So in a tight one, Philly in five.

Enjoy the games…

…on your PVR.

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