the playoffs haven't even begun, and already two teams have met gruesome fates --- epic choke jobs. the field is now set, and the poll is up to determine which team gets the honor of our official endorsement. . . . . in a shocking development, the rockies have a massive early lead in the voting. who saw that coming? last night's memorable win was the second walkoff 9-8 victory in colorado's incredible 14-1 sprint to the finish; back on september 18 they trailed 8-7 vs the dodgers heading into the 9th and won on a 2-out, 2-run dinger by todd helton, completing a doubleheader sweep. when this rally began, the rocks were in 4th place in the nl west and 4th in the wild-card chase; they scored 102 runs in the 15 games (including that one the holliday didn't score in the 13th last night), or just shy of 7 per game, while allowing just 51, or about 3.5 per game.
so let's run a little contest: name the 4 lds winners, the 2 lcs winners, and the world series winner; state the score in games of each series. my picks as follows:
cubs v diamondbacks
very interesting matchup. arizona has the best starting pitcher in the series and the lock-downest bullpen on the nl side of the bracket; the cubs have the better manager and by far the more potent lineup. i figure b webb is good for at least one win, and the dbacks' bullpen is probably good for another; and i can easily imagine ryan dempster blowing a late lead. so it's very tempting to pick arizona . . . . but i'm gonna go with the cubs, because their bats give them a greater margin for error. they can overcome a bad pitching performance or a blown save and still win the game; i don't think that the dbacks can. if they don't get great pitching on a given day, they are hosed --- with their offense (14th in the league in runs scored) they aren't going to win many 5-4 or 6-5 games this month. plus, there's a glaring gap here in run differential --- cubs + 62, dbacks -20. i'll take the cubs in 5 games.
rockies v phils
last night's game may have just been a warmup; 9-8 could end up looking like a pitcher's duel in this series. the phils led the league in scoring, and the rockies finished 2d; they were 13th and 8th, respectively, in era. the phils have the best starting pitcher (hamels) in this series (and he'll be available twice), plus better overall rotation depth; the rockies have jeff francis (an extremely underrated pitcher) and the better bullpen. neither manager strikes me as particularly shrewd. of all the outstanding young players who will be on display in this series, troy tulowitzki impresses me the most. he wears #2 because he grew up idolizing jeter, and he reminds me of jeter --- the guy's a presence, and he won't back down. on account of that, and the phils' extremely untrustworthy bullpen, i'm taking the rockies in 4.
yankees v indians
i know so little about the american league [UPDATE --- including what the matchups are] . . . . i do know that these american league teams are embarassingly better than their nl counterparts. you've probably realized by now that not a single one of the national league playoff teams would have qualified for the playoffs in the al --- the nl's best team (arizona, with 90 wins) would have finished 4 games back of the worst american-league qualifier. . . . . i'll take the yanks in this series because a) they had a run differential of nearly +200, and b) the indians have joe borowski closing out their games. i hate to diss my countryman and (no doubt) very distant cousin --- he's got the right demeanor to close out games, but he just doesn't have the stuff. cc and fausto are great equalizers and could singlehandedly win the series for cleveland. i'm still taking the yanks in 4.
red sox v angels
the red sox' run differential was even better than the yankees', at +210. they have a deeper pitching staff than the angels, as well as the single best starting pitcher in the series (beckett). it's been shown that power-hitting teams like the sox have a bit of an edge in october over slap-n-run teams like the angels; whether that will manifest in this particular 5-game series, i don't really know. but i'll pretend that i do: sox in 3.
beyond the first round, i'll take the cubs over the rockies in 5, and the sox over the yankees in 6, and the sox over the cubs in 5, with the former cursee denying the reigning one. fox will be happy w/ the ratings, anyway. . . . . . hope all the games are as interesting as last night's was. but no need for them to run 13 innings . . . . .