Legends are made in October and this year’s Fall Classic shouldn’t disappoint.
Even though the defending World Series champs ran into truckload of problems throughout the season, this year’s lineup of teams is as diverse as they come.
Boston didn’t waste any time returning to successful after its horrible gamble on Bobby Valentine. Tampa Bay continues to prove that you don’t need a lot of money to put a winning product on the field. Same goes for Oakland, which learned from its mistake in 2002 when it shipped off most of the team after its Moneyball success. This year’s Athletics is the same group from last year.
Cleveland finally gave Detroit a challenge in the Central Division as both made the postseason. The Indians, though, fell short Wednesday night in the wildcard game against Tampa Bay.
Two of the four teams in the National League are postseason regulars.
The Phillies fell off the baseball Earth while the Nationals couldn’t repeat the best record from last season. Enter the Braves, which was victim to the horrendous infield fly in last year’s playoffs that allowed the Cardinals to advance.
St. Louis looks solid as always but this year’s Cinderella resides in Pennsylvania where the only good team this fall is the Pirates. The Steelers are horrible and the Eagles can’t sustain the up-tempo offense from Chip Kelly.
And it’s good to see that the Yankees of the West are finally seeing what money can do. The Dodgers are back in the postseason for the first time under Don Mattingly after consecutive years of disappointment.
What can you expect from this year’s playoffs? Don’t even bother guessing because your predictions and assumptions are as useless as a 3-1 lead in the 2012 NLCS.
Here’s how I hope the postseason plays out with the winner coming from the American League.
A’s vs. Tigers
Oakland waited all year to get another shot against Detroit after completing a memorable comeback in last year’s divisional series. Justin Verlander has returned to the planet and is as vulnerable as ever, but he’s been nearly lights out in the playoffs.
Pitching will dictate this series again and Oakland wisely uncovered the upper deck tarp for the playoffs, which makes the Coliseum one of the nosiest stadiums in baseball.
Oakland in 5
Rays vs. Red Sox
This could be the last time we see Tampa Bay make a run in the playoffs with several key players due for free agency and a payroll that matches colleges in the Mountain West Conference. Boston played well in a tough division and relied on its youth with some seasoned veterans.
Tampa Bay has experience and looks confident after notching two road wins already this week.
Tampa Bay in 4
Dodgers vs. Braves
Pitching seems to be the theme this postseason and Los Angeles and Atlanta are stacked. The Dodgers have several Cy Young-worthy pitchers on their staff and a lineup that should be feared.
That key hit or error could decide this series, just like Scott Rolen’s error in the NLDS gave the Giants new life last year.
LA in 4
Cardinals vs. Pirates
St. Louis is the most consistent team in the National League to reach the postseason. The Cardinals have the most experience, but I get the feeling that the Pirates are due for a remarkable run.
Pittsburgh looked strong against Cincinnati and if it can split the first two games, it’s going to be hard beating the Pirates on their turf.
Pittsburgh in 5
A’s vs. Rays
Two of the worst budgets collide to determine who plays for the coveted trophy at the end of the month.
Oakland hasn’t been to the World Series since the Bay Area earthquake in 1989, while Tampa Bay was shortchanged against Philadelphia four years ago. Who wants it more?
Here’s to hoping the magic stays in the Bay Area.
Oakland in 7
Dodgers vs. Pirates
Pittsburgh’s feel-good story and exhaustive effort from playing its divisional rival could break this team against Los Angles. The Dodgers are built to make a long run in the playoffs.
After spending the last three seasons on the bench during this month and watching its rival win two of the titles, the Dodgers look determined to reach the last stop.
Los Angeles in 5
A’s vs. Dodgers
Does Kirk Gibson’s hobbling home run off Dennis Eckersley still rank as one of the best moments in baseball?
Prepare for a trip down Memory Lane this month when these two storied franchises square off in the World Series for the first time since 1988. It’s big money vs. no money and a chance for a team that relies on statistics, precision and fundamental baseball to prove that it can be the last team standing.
Oakland in 6
The playoffs are one of the most exciting events in sports and another memorable adventure awaits. Will there be another team to win six elimination games like the Giants? Will a team’s regular-season success not carry over? Time will tell in three weeks who will end up as the baseball champion in 2013.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at email@example.com.