You don’t win pennants in the offseason.‚ You don’t win them during the season either.‚ You win them in the postseason.‚ It is now October and it’s time for some baseball.‚ After six months, eight of thirty teams remain.‚ In a little less than a month, we will have our champion.‚
Will it be a repeat for the Red Sox?‚ A curse-breaking for the Cubs?‚ Another series for the Southsiders while their uptown rivals wait yet another year?‚ An exorcising of the Devil for the Rays?‚ A trip to baseball heaven for the Angels?‚ A ring for the LA wedding of a former New York manager and former Boston slugger?‚ A win for the City of Brotherly Love and the team with the most losses in baseball history?‚ How about champagne flooding the streets of the Brew City?‚
The best part of October is that anything can happen.‚ Favorites fall.‚ Teams comeback from the brink of elimination.‚ Heroes cement themselves in the annals of baseball lore.‚ There are storylines.‚ Lots of storylines.‚ Here are this postseason’s most compelling:
The New Rivalry
The Red Sox swept the Angels twice en route to this century’s titles and are 9-0 in their last three postseason series against the California-Anaheim-Los Angeles club.‚ This time the Angels are the favorites as they return with a power offense (not to be completely overshadowed by Manny in the real LA, Mark Teixeira has been the answer to the Mike Scioscia’s prayers) and the deepest overall pitching staff in baseball.‚ Still, Terry Francona is 8-0 in the World Series and 7-1 in elimination games.
The Red Sox always hog all the stories and this feature is no exception.‚ Last season Beckett joined Gibson, Koufax, Ford and Schilling as one of the all-time great postseason pitchers.‚ The news swirling out of Boston is that Beckett won’t pitch until Game 3 at the earliest due to an oblique strain.‚ Will he go and how effective will he be?
Three games on short rest, three wins to send the Brewers into the postseason since 1982 and the first time as a National League club.‚ How much farther is he going to carry the team?‚ The word here in the Brew City is that the Crew was planning on going with a one-man rotation in the play-offs, then realized that would not be right because with just one pitcher, there isn’t any rotating.‚ He’s even going to throw during the day to prevent tightness from setting in.‚
Manny Being Manny
Manny might be the best deadline deal ever.‚ Factor in that he’s one of the best postseason hitters of all-time, the Cubs are going to have their hands full trying to get him out.‚ Can he carry the Dodgers to a Hollywood ending, complete with himself, Nomar, Derek Lowe and Joe Torre sitting in the visiting dugout at Fenway?‚
Will A-Rod be able to break his 0-220 playoff slump to send Yankee Stadium out in style with a World Series win? ‚ No.
It took the White Sox 163 games to make the playoffs.‚ Will they ride the energy through the Rays or did they spend it all getting to Tampa?‚ The pitching isn’t bad and the team loves the longball.‚ After years in Cincinnati, Ken Griffey Jr. is finally playing in October again. But for long?‚
New Kids on the Block
If the Rays sold their souls to the Devil, why didn’t he insist they keep his name?‚ This team never had a winning record until this year-when they won the AL East.‚ The Rays have their youth, the favorite for Manager of the Year, a considerable homefield (or home-can) advantage and little to lose.‚ They don’t have “playoff experience” but they also don’t have experience losing playoff games, and that might be worth the most of all.
The Storyline That TBS and FOX Will Beat to DEATH
One of four teams to return to the postseason, the Phillies were swept by the Rockies who were one of the hottest teams ever … until they were swept out of the World Series.‚ The Phillies again took the NL East after an amazin’ collapse by their rival and earned a first-round date with the Brewers.‚ Will Jamie Moyer and C.C. face each other in the most-opposite matchup between two left-handers in postseason history?‚ Will fans in Philly hold off on the “Let’s go Eagles” chants for a‚ few more weeks?‚
The Red Sox did it.‚ The White Sox did it a year later.‚ Now, will the Cubs finally shake their demons or will April on Addison be more like the past 100?‚ This is their best chance as they have pitchers with functioning rotator cuffs and an all-around potent offense.‚ Some credit Lou Piniella (he won the 1990 World Series with the “Nasty Boys”).‚ Some will point out the 2001 season in which Piniella’s Mariners won 116 games and were bounced out of play-offs in the first round.‚ Some will also bring up the 1995 and 1997 Mariners but that would just be cruel.‚
For the Record
As a fan, I can’t and won’t pick against the Red Sox so they’re my choice to win it all after beating the Rays in war of an ALCS.‚ As much as we’d all like to see a re-match of the 1918 World Series, I’m honestly feeling Dodgers over Brewers in the NL.