Here we go, boys. This is why we show up. It’s October, it’s Yankee time, and we are the kings of October. Never mind checking any specific day or year, it’s a title we’ve earned over a century. And everyone else is a long way from taking it away from us. But we’ve got work to do right here and now, so let’s get at it.
Who’s in the driver’s seat in the American League? The Bosto-n Red Sox. Their lucky star has continued to shine on them. They are set up. Wild Card Shmild Card. I know my Chicag-o guys are going to kill me, but the Red Sox have the easiest draw (I can hear the Chitown keyboards clicking furiously from all the way in Brookly-n). Here’s what I’m saying. Nothing you guys haven’t heard. The White Sox have not been able to beat any playoff teams all year. The closest they came was a split against our Yankees which was, I can say, not exactly convincing. Snuck out of town with two out of three and then coughed it right back up at home. And that was their best effort. Couldn’t beat the Red Sox, couldn’t beat the Angels, couldn’t even beat the A’s. You beat the Indians, though. Why should I believe that the White Sox are going to all of the sudden start beating teams they haven’t been able to beat all year? Eric and myp (I pronounce that “mip”, by the way) were correct. Talk of a “choke” was overblown. The only thing different about the way the White Sox finished up from the way that the Cardinals and Braves finished up was a freakishly white-hot team called the Indians all over their a*ss. After all, it’s not a choke if you finish in first. The team that had the four game lead and blew it was the Red Sox. But that doesn’t change a whole lot. Since June 24, the White Sox are 49-41. For the last three-and-a-half months, they have been a decidedly mediocre team. Garlan-d and Buehrle finished with a couple of good starts, but for the last couple of months they haven’t been lights out by any stretch. There’s no evidence that tells me that they will suddenly turn it around now. The White Sox play little ball. They have won their games by scratching out runs one at a time, while keeping the score low with good pitching. The Red Sox are b*stards. They bleed your starters dry (they learned that trick from the Yankees, of course), and before you know it your starter has thrown 85 pitches by the fourth inning. Then they’re into your bullpen. And from what I’ve seen, the White Sox are using a patchwork bullpen, with Jenks as the closer, seemingly. The good news for the White Sox is that the Red Sox don’t hit as well against guys they haven’t faced a whole lot. The bad news is they eat bullpens like Acc eats lasagna. The Red Sox don’t scratch out anything. They are very much a station-to-station team, slow and conservative on the bases. But they club you to death. And when the White Sox go to the bullpen, you are going to see 260 pounds (and growing) of HGH-fueled fury named David Ortiz waving what can only be described as a magic wand in your face. The bad news: I don’t think the White Sox have a chance. The good news: what do I know? I’m just a jerk on the couch watching. More good news – Big Joe, who was right with me saying the Indians were the odd team out, picked the White Sox to beat the Red Sox, although he wouldn’t specify number of games. He thinks their pitching is going to be lights out. More good news, 7 of the 15 ESPN analysts picked the White Sox to get out of the first round. That’s four more than picked the Yankees. Petey Goods and Acc both picked the White Sox. But here’s the best news, White Sox fans – the BPS is fully, no questions asked, 100% behind you, rooting for your White Sox. I hope I’m wrong, boys. There would be nobody more psyched than me (except maybe myp and Eric) if White trumps Red. We need another draining, super-hyped series with Bosto-n like we need a hole in the head. Go Pods, go Rowand, go Duque, go Konerko, go, go White Sox.
Now for the American League East Champion Yankees. Everybody, but everybody is picking against the Yanks. I don’t blame them. It’s the right pick, on paper. In contrast to the White Sox, the Yankees have played well against good teams this year. They only have a losing record against one. Guess who. This is a terrible matchup for the Yanks. Here’s why. The White Sox peck you to death. The Red Sox and Yanks club you to death. Mike Scoscia’s Angels bring a blend of the two. They play Forrest Gump ball. They are running. Personally, I love it. He’s got everybody running. They take extra bases; they force you to make plays. It’s tough playing against them. You constantly have to be on your toes. This is not the Yankees forte. Cano is a rookie, he makes some weird plays. Giambi is a mess at first. Bernie couldn’t throw out Dom Deluise trying to take two bases on a sac fly, and Posada and Flaherty have had pretty good years defensively, but are prone to lapses. The Angels will steal a run or two with small ball, and then they’ll send up certifiable Yankee-killers like Garret Anderson and Vlad the Bad to smash your life.
It hasn’t been pretty when we’ve played these guys. We’ve only won one series against them since ’97, and they’re the only team to have a winning record against the Yanks in the Joe Torre era. Besides that, they have Bartolo Colo-n pitching two games against us, and he always pitches well against the Yanks. Chris Woy will tell you the least-fun time he’s ever had with me is the night we sat there watching Colo-n no-hit the Yanks for 7 1/3 before Luis Polonia plunked one into right to bust it up. And bleeding him out of the game, as they had so often done to Pedro et al, is moot because they have a sick bullpen, led by that over-excited punk, K-Rod. So why would anyone in their right mind pick the Yanks? Well this goes back to myp’s comment on yesterday’s BPS that I’m biased. Guilty, dude. Everything I say is biased – everything everybody says is biased. I watch the Yankees every day. Most of the boys do as well. We watch every pitch, every out, every run. We are on the phone with each other at 1am in May because the Yanks just pulled out a west coast game. Losers? You bet. Lunatics? Without a doubt. With that said, you learn to pick up on things. You get to know their personalities, trends, and what they are prone to. You learn to believe or not to believe. And every once in a while the facts will get in the way of a good story. But sometimes they’ll make it better. The Yanks are due. Chone Figgins is hitting .487 this year against the Yanks, with a .535 on-base-percentage. That’s 200 points above his season batting average. Well over 10% of his entire season hit total came against the Yanks. And well over 10% of Vlad’s RBI total came against the Yanks. The law of averages will get them, too.
If the Angels lose game one, they are in trouble. Their road would get very tough with Randall staring at them in game 3. But I don’t see them losing game one. Mike Mussina has been at his playoff-best when the Yanks have had their backs against the wall. Down 0-2 at Oaklan-d, game 7 against Bosto-n in ’03 in relief of Clemens, etc. He has been at his worst when he’s started game 1. And add to that the fact that he’s pitched exactly twice since August. My gut tells me he’s going to get his doors blown off in game 1. The only question is how quickly Torre goes to Small. I say pretty quickly. Sean, I know that’s your boy, so let’s hope it works out. The good news is we have Small to fall back on.
So with all of that down, what will happen? The Yankees strike-throwing trio of Small, Chacon and Wang will send the experts to the showers. Without the benefit of walks, the Angels will not be able to get the guys on base they need to get the small ball going, nor have enough ducks on the pond for Garret and Vlady. Randall will be ferocious in game 3. The Yanks will take it back to Angels Stadium for game five and jump all over Colo-n, never looking back. ALCS – Yanks over Bosto-n – in what else? Game 7.
National League? Who cares. The Padres are one of the truly funny jokes of the year, and the Braves and Cardinals are overrated – again. Astros over Cards in the NLCS. Pettite and Clemens leading the way.
The predictions from some of the boys:
Mike Sherry – Yanks in 3, Red Sox in 4, Yanks in 5 (ALCS)
Chris Woy – Yanks in 4, Red Sox in 4, Yanks in 7 (ALCS), Cards in 3, Astros in 4, Cards in 6 (NLCS)
Mikey Rumble – Yanks in 4. Angels win game 2.
Acc – Yanks in 4, White Sox in 5, Astros in 3, Cards in 3
Petey Goods – Yanks in 4, White Sox in 5, Cards in 3, Braves in 4
Mikey Johnson – Yanks in 4
Man, this is fun as h*ll, no?