Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Have the Playoffs Started Yet?

Well, that was a disappointing first round of the playoffs. What looked like four intriguing series turned into four routs, so while an individual game here or there had some drama there was none in any series.

There shouldn't be a sweep in either Championship series - the Rockies and Diamondbacks and the Indians and Red Sox seem well-matched to deliver two tight series. Arizona has the edge in pitching and the Rockies in hitting; I think Zona is the more consistent team but Colorado the more explosive team. In a 7-game series that should favor the Diamondbacks but would you bet against the Rockies right now? I'll be rooting for Colorado because it's always fun to see a new team in the World Series. And a Colorado WS appearance is the only thing that's going to save us from FOX totally overblowing their coverage of either Cleveland or Boston.

Because the DBacks are a pretty dull team. There's not a lot of storylines FOX can sell with Arizona:

"Hey, did you know Tony Clark is STILL PLAYING?"

"Brandon Webb! How long until the Yankees buy him?"

"Come watch the Drew brother that doesn't suck!"

So that means we'll get a 100 stories of that wacky Eric Byrnes. Do you want that? Because I don't. As much fun as it is watching Byrnes play the game, it's equally as irritating watching him do anything off the baseball field. He's one of these "personalities" (like Warren Sapp, Jeremy Roenick, and Michaels Waltrip, Irvin, and Strahan) that gets shoved down our collective television-throats because they're projected to be TV commentators as soon as they're done playing.

Because they're colorful. And they'll "say anything." And they make people who like Jeannie Zelasko and Stuart Scott giggle.

So, yeah, go Rockies. (Of course, it's really too bad that the Rockies couldn't have done this last year before the Colts won the Super Bowl just for all the humor that could have been derived wondering if an ex-Tennessee QB was finally going to win something that mattered ...)

By the way, I think TBS' game coverage has been pretty good, so far (with the exception of the embarrassment that is Frank Thomas in the studio) but if they give us Wacky Byrnes as a means of selling the NLCS I'm going to deduct points.

I think the ALCS sets up for some damn good baseball. Both teams can pitch, hit for power, run, play defense ... we shouldn't see too many 8-2 games. There's no great insight here but I think the series is going to come down to how well Sabathia and Carmona pitch to Ortiz and Lowell. If the Indians' two big starters can put the clamps on Papi and Manny then the Indians should win; if they can't then the Sox should take the series. I think it's really that simple - for that not to hold we'd either need to see an offensive explosion by the Indians to off-set the Papi-Manny attack, or someone else in the Sox line-up would have to step up.

Other than Mike Lowell, I don't think that man exists in the Sox line-up. After what Papi and Manny did to the Angels, though, you have to wonder if the Indians will simply by-pass them to pitch to Lowell. It'd be a high-risk strategy - putting more men on base for a guy who hit .324 and drove in 120 runs (more than either Papi or Manny) but common sense says you'd rather pitch to Mike Lowell than Manny Ramirez, right?

Francona has moved Schilling up to pitch Game 2 of the series and I think it's a panic move. Yeah, Schilling is the better pitcher, but the way things line up now Schil would pitch Game 6 and not Game 7 and Matsuzaka would pitch Game 7. Even before that, I'd rather have Schilling as the back-stop in Game 3, the first game in Cleveland. I'd like Schilling in the match-up against Jake Westbrook and if the Sox are down 0-2, Schil can put the Sox back in the series; if they're tied 1-1 or up 2-0 he can put them in charge.

Should be two fun series. I think predictions are pretty meaningless, but I'm thinking Rockies in 6 and Sox in 7.


baloo said...

I thought the announcing during the 1st Red Sox game was horrible. I don't remember which guy did it, but when they started saying that "there used to be a thing called productive outs" and then said only the Angels do productive outs I yelled at my tv (not really, but I wanted to). If your team doesn't get productive outs, you can't win that many games. Did the Red Sox have zero sac flies this season? No ground outs that advanced a runner? Please. He said something else that bothered me, but the productive out thing took over my mind.

MBQ said...

Yeah, Ted Robinson and Steve Stone were not the best team. They're both naturally boring so it's bad to have them together. Robinson is great at tennis because he's pared with John McEnroe and he can play the quiet guy to Mac's bluster. But Stone is also a quiet guy so it led to some odd exchanges. Robinson likes to set up his partner but Stone doesn't respond well to that kind of play-by-play guy.

And Chip Caray was given to far too many Costas-like historical pronouncements - "This could be the last time Alex Rodriguez bats in a Yankees uniform."

But, on the whole, they weren't snide and grandstanding like Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Buck always comes across like he'd rather be somewhere else, like he's too cool to get involved in the game. None of the TBS guys had that vibe.