The World Series tournament is here, and I am very excited for the matchups. We have the Dodgers back to where they belong, winners of the National League West by a landslide. Boston recovered from the Bobby Valentine disaster. And most of all, the Pirates are back in the playoffs since the days when a skinny Barry Bonds was leading the early 90s Pirates teams to division titles on the regular.
Now let’s look at the American and National League Divisional Series – shall we?
Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays. As much as I would LOVE to see the Rays knock off those hated Red Sox (go Yankees!), I just don’t see it. The Red Sox won 12 of 19 games against the Rays, and I think the Red Sox’ domination will continue in this series. Boston has the better offense, and save for Tampa’s David Price the better pitching staff. The Rays, as always, are an amazing team and even better story. The fact that Tampa Bay is competitive with limited resources while playing in a dump (Tropicana Field) is nothing short of astonishing. However, Boston is the better team with a better story (last to first place in the AL East, home-field throughout the AL playoffs, the recovery of the Bobby Valentine debacle). Prediction: Red Sox in 3
Oakland Athletics vs. Detroit Tigers. I love Detroit. I love their moxie. I love Miguel Cabrera. I love the Tigers’ pitching (especially Max Scherzer). And most of all, I love their manager Jim Leyland. The A’s are such an enigma to me. Maybe because they are on the West Coast. Maybe because there is so little to know about them. I can’t for the life of me figure out how in the hell Oakland won 96 games. The A’s are a spunk bunch, but I don’t think they are better than the Tigers, and I will be proven right. Prediction: Tigers in 5
Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. Atlanta is a good story. They upgraded their offense with the acquisition of Justin Upton (his brother B.J. has been a disaster hitting the ball). The Braves are well-managed by Fredi Gonzalez. Atlanta has a pretty decent pitching staff, which is statistically better than L.A.’s (3.18 to 3.25 team ERA). Craig Kimbrell is one of the best closers with 50 saves. However, I think the Braves will miss the injured Tim Hudson. As for the Dodgers, what’s not to love? I love their swagger. I love Yasiel Puig. I love the fact that L.A.’s offense is healthier, led by Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez. And last but not least, the Dodgers’ pitching staff is a beast led by Cy Young and MVP candidate Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke. I think the Dodgers’ pitching staff will stymie the Braves’ bats, and that alone will put the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series. Prediction: Dodgers in 4
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates. I love divisional rivalries manifesting themselves in the playoffs. St. Louis was the best in the NL Central, but it is facing a team that is not scared of it one bit. The Pirates won the season series 10-9, which I do believe makes Pittsburgh the only team to win the season series from the Cardinals. The Pirates (and their fans) are excited as hell to be back in the playoffs, and is eagerly awaiting (and wanting) St. Louis. And yes, the Cardinals have been a juggernaut in the NL. They have an MVP candidate in Yadier Molina. Matt Holiday and Carlos Beltran have been tearing it up behind the plate. They have a stud ace in Adam Wainwright. But you know what, the Pirates have some of those too. They have an MVP candidate in Andrew McCutchen. I would argue the Pirates have two aces in A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano. The Pirates are feeling themselves, and that moxie and fearlessness is why I am picking them to upset the heavily favored Cardinals. Prediction: Pirates in 5