I went 3 out of 4 in the Division Series and if I actually paid attention to what I wrote, I might be 4 out of 4. Let's review the rules:
#1) Find the teams that have been playing well for longer than a weekÖ.a good 2 month stretch or longer is nice.
#2) Find teams that have a knack for coming from behind
#3) 2 dominant starters on staff equals trouble for other team.
#4) Aggressive managing is better than the same old thing works managing.
#5) Never go for a team with a bad defense particularly up the middle (CF, 2b, SS & C)
#6) And of course there is the ex-Cub factor.
Onto the predictions we go....
Astros vs. Cardinals
The Astros/Braves series was the one I butchered and if I just paid attention to what I wrote, I would have gotten it right. See the Astros were the hotter team, had more dominant starting pitching, the more aggressive manager and apparently the better defense. With Holly being off the roster, the ex-Cub factor was a wash and the come from behind ability, as I've mentioned, you can't find a damn stat anywhere for that. So for this series, let's break it down rule-by-rule.
Rule #1) Edge Cardinals
The Cards had a better record over the last 2 months (34-24 to the 'Stros 32-25), but the Houston was playing meaningul games down the stretch while the Cards were on cruise control. It's a very slight edge to the Cards,
Rule #2) Edge Cardinals
A couple of miracle finishes throughout the season along with one of the better offenses, once again gives a slight edge to the Cards. The 'Stros pulled off their own miracle Sunday, so once again, a very slight edge.
Rule #3) Edge Astros
I don't care what the Cards team ERA was this year, staring down the Big Three is much more foreboding than freaking Jeff Suppan.
Rule #4) Edge Astros
As written somewhere else
, Tony LaRussa is more interested in being the smartest person in the room than in winning baseball games. Doesn't say much when you lose the managerial battle to Phil Garner.
Rule #5) Wash
Both teams are excellent defenders, slight edge Cards, but neither team can be considered bad defensively.
Rule #6) Edge Astros
Jose Vizcaino versus Grudz, Ray King and Julian Tavarez. Beware Cardinal fans, beware!!!
3-2 edge to the Astros. Sorry Redbird nation, wait till next year! I hate to give anything to Clemens or Oswalt but Biggio and Bagwell do deserve at least a trip to the Series, so I'll begrudgingly being rooting for Houston this series. Plus a White Sox/Cardinals World Series might force me to move the family to Antarctica. I expect another nail biter series though, this time the Astros will win it in 7.
Angels vs. White Sox
First, let's thank Gary Sheffield and Bubba Crosby for making me look like a prophet when I wrote this:
In the end, I know the Angels won't beat themselves, I wouldn't be surprised if the Yanks do.
With the Red Sox and Yanks eliminated, I'm not sure what ESPN is going to do for the next week. I wonder if the Baseball Tonight Crew even knows anything about these two teams. Somehow they'll still throw in how great Derek Jeter is and how damn clutch he is. Not to mention Fox has had to shelf the 100+ pieces they edited about the rivalry, the Curse and whatever other mumbo-jumbo they were going to spew on us. They can air it all next year, when they force MLB to schedule the Yanks and Red Sox to play each other for all 162 regular season games.
The Angels look in trouble as they may be down as many as 2 starting pitchers. Washburn is suffering from strep throat and Colon has back and shoulder problems. Paul Byrd will pitch Game 1, but the Game 2 starter is up in the air at the moment, the strongest possibility being a bullpen approach starting with Kevin Gregg and then diving into the Angels most excellent relievers. Throw in the crazy travel schedule and the fact that it just looks like everything seems to be breaking the White Sox way this year (that Graffanino error was just one of those things that happens to teams headed places) and it looks like the deck is stacked against the Angels.
And I don't buy it. The Angels do all those "Smartball" things way better than the Pale Hose. Better defense, better baserunning, better pitching (obviously that's up in the air right now), and a far superior manager. I'm horribly biased towards the Angels and against the White Sox, plus the opportunity to see Vlad take his hacks against the Astros pitchers would be fun. I say, Angels trump the ChiSox in 5.