Saturday, October 13, 2012

NLCS and ALCS Picks: Prepare For The Bring Down

I Predict Lower Ratings
I went 3-1 in picks for the second round of the playoffs, bringing me to 4-2 if you include the play-in games... and while the last week of baseball has been hysterical good fun, I'm sorry to tell you it's about to go straight to the dumpster.

No, seriously.

The problem is that while the four best teams (yes, best, Nationals Fan: your franchise lost any claim to greatness when you benched your #1 staring pitcher for no good reason, and your lack of experience really was a problem now, wasn't it?) have advanced... the four most entertaining teams did not.

All of these clubs could have easily been predicted to make this round in spring training, and the reasons why are the same since that time -- the Tigers' corner infielders and starters, the Yankees' star-laden and wildly experienced roster, the Cardinals' heart, poise and talent, and the Giants' pitching, even if it's not the names that they might have expected.

So instead of looking at Nats' Babies and Unshaven A's and Wildly Talented Reds and the Who Are Those Guys O's... we'll be looking at household names, long at-bats and grinds and media fellatio over bunting, managers that won't make wacky implosion moves, bullpens that won't blow 6-run leads at home in an elimination game... and breathless explanations of how whoever is winning is the living definition of a Gutty Veteran Competitor.

It's not going to be anywhere as much fun.

Unless, of course, you are a fan of one of the survivors. Or making bank.

So even puling. On to the picks!

* * * * *

CARDINALS vs. Giants

Once more with feeling: the Giants' come into this series with offensive lapses all over the place. They also come in without the clear experience advantage that helped them become the first 0-2 team to advance in the NLDS round, and while they hit like mad for the last two days, I'm just not seeing them being able to keep up the emotion for the next series, even with the advantage in starting pitching (and make no doubt about it, they hold a clear edge here, especially with Adam Wainwright stinking up the joint, and Jaime Garcia hurt).

The Cards are in the strange situation of being the defending champion who are playing with house money after the Houdini act against the Nats. They also have a better defense and bullpen this series. Which kind of matters in these close and late games...

Lastly, there' this  if the Cards' and Giants were to trade rosters before this series begins, I'd still go with the Cards. Why? Just the gut feeling. That laundry's got a championship in it, and it doesn't seem to be coming out any time soon.

TIGERS vs. Yankees

A small but telling point: the Yankees are incredibly fortunate to be here. Without some improbable heroics from Raul Ibanez in Game Three, a questionable foul pole call in Game Five, and the Orioles having situational hitting issues out the wazoo, they'd be home for the annual media lynching that is the return on investment from any non-championship year.

They aren't getting anything out of Alex Rodriguez. Derek Jeter is limping wounded. Nick Swisher looks lost. Curtis Granderson was MIA until the last minute of the ALDS. Robinson Cano hasn't done much at all. And while both teams had to spend their ace n Game Five, the Tigers have a clear edge in the rest of the rotation.

So in a series where Doug Fister might throw more innings than Justin Verlander, give me the Tigers anyway... because, well, Fister is a lot better than the final sunsets of Andy Pettite. Just as Max Scherzer is a lot better than the longball magnet Phil Hughes, and while Hideki Kuroda is better than Anibal Sanchez, it doesn't make up for the Verlander over CC Sabathia problem. (Ceec is a master competitor and smart as hell. Verlander is the best pitcher of his generation. No contest.)

Also, there's the final point that the Miguel Cabrera / Prince Fielder duo has the chance, however small, of outscoring the Yankees on their own. That won't happen, of course, but it means that the Tigers have more ways to win than the Yanks. So that's how you bet.

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