Baseball Postseason, Volume I
Correction: This will be Braves-Astros...Part IV. The reference page I was looking at listed, in 2001, the Braves losing to the Diamondbacks in the NLDS when in fact it was the NLCS (I know for sure because I was there for 2 of those games, and saw the D'Backs clinch to go to the World Series, and hell, I was talking to Mike afterwards in a rare Atlanta-to-Louisville phone call and he was giving me the lowdown on the Yankees-Mariners series), and they forgot to list their sweep of Houston that year in the NLDS. So, '97, '99, and '01 were all Braves-Astros NLDS.
I also love this fact, one that I take credit for in my long following of the Braves. Since 1991, there are only 2 NL teams the Braves have not played in the playoffs. Those are the Brewers and Expos (and it never will be the Expos, now that they're off to DC). The Brewers, of course, haven't made the playoffs since 1982 and spent time in the AL for half of this Braves run. So just about any team is a rematch nowadays.
Another fact: No team from the NL Central has been to the World Series since it became the NL Central. The last franchise from the NL Central to make it to the Series was the Reds, when they were in the NL West in 1990.
Yet another fact: No team from the AL Central has been to the World Series since 1997, when the Cleveland Indians went.
Here's a fact that has been dug up a few times, concerning the Wild Card. Since the Wild Card was introduced in 1995, there have been 5 representatives (out of a possible 18) to make the World Series. They have won 3 World Series (Marlins twice, and the Angels, who beat the also Wild Card Giants in 2002...the other rep was the Mets, who lost in 2000 to the Yanks)
Looks like I picked Anaheim, NY Yankees, Boston in their correct places, picked Houston and Atlanta to go to the playoffs but I picked Houston as the Central rep and Atlanta as the wild card. Way off: Picked the Diamondbacks in the NL West, I truly thought with their rotation and Richie Sexson (who got hurt) they would make a run. They lost over 100 games. Also said the Cardinals would have average pitching and hitting...wrong.
Division Series Predictions
Have a hard time picking series involving my beloved teams, but I think Houston wins this. Atlanta has some injuries, but I'm not so sure they'd win it anyway. One thing Atlanta has always been able to do in these playoff rounds with the Astros (remember, the Braves are 3-0 vs. Houston in the NLDS, and a total record of 9-1 in individual games) is shut down Bagwell and Biggio (and later, Berkman...now they have Beltran). I just don't know if this year's pitching can. With Clemens and Oswalt pitching for the Astros, it's going to be tough to score runs. IF Jaret Wright and John Thomson pitch like they did down the stretch, they can match the Astros. I really wish I didn't have to see Russ Ortiz in this series, because I've decided no matter how many wins he has next to his name, he sucks. He walks too many guys, and in the playoffs that really kills.
Regular season: Tie, 3-3. Both teams at home were 1-2.
Prediction: Astros, 3-2.
Go crazy, folks! Go crazy! That's the Jack Buck call of Ozzie Smith's game-winning HR in the 1985 NLCS. I'm sure we'll be seeing that all over the place as these two teams square off in a, (cough)
Regular season, Cards 4-2. The home team between these two was 5-1 (Cards swept a series in StL)
Prediction: Cards, 3-0.
A very interesting series, since these two played each other just last week, and it's a rematch of the true form, as this very NLDS took place last year. I think Johan Santana is absolutely unbeatable right now, and he will pitch 2 games. Now the problem is, who is going to beat the Yankees after that? I have a feeling about this series, though. This is not a matchup the Yankees were looking for, that's for sure (actually, despite their superior record, I think they may be the 3rd or 4th best team in the AL playoffs). Their pitching is absolutely on the ropes right now, and I think the Twins can score quite easily. Javier Vasquez was involved in some serious blowouts (that Indians 22-0 game, for instance). I think they can win at least one of the games that Santana doesn't pitch.
Regular season: Yankees, 4-2. Home team was 5-1 (Yankees swept last week's series in NY).
Prediction: Twins, 3-1.
4. Red Sox-Angels
A "rematch" of the 1986 ALCS, where the Angels were one out away from going to the World Series before Dave Henderson hit a monumental go-ahead HR against Donnie Moore (who unfortunately killed himself a couple of years later). The Red Sox were the hottest AL team down the stretch, making the Wild Card race disappear. This will be a high-scoring series, and Boston has the edge in pitching and hitting, so it's logical to pick them here. When you run Schilling and Pedro (who struggled down the stretch, which should worry Red Sox fans, but I think he bounces back) against the Angels oft-hit rotation, it could get ugly. The Red Sox have made a habit of making these DS close, by dropping the first two games and then winning the next 3, in the past two years. I think this will be a little easier.
Regular season: Red Sox, 5-2. Home team was 5-2 (Red Sox swept a three-game series at home).
Prediction: Red Sox, 3-1.
I usually don't try to peek after my Round 1 predictions, since everything could be wrong after this next week (but it's perfectly OK to do so before the season even starts--don't know how I came up with that logic. I think it's because the predictions can be wrong so quickly), so I will wait until the Championship Series matchups are decided before proceeding.