The Official DOL "I Stopped Paying Attention to Baseball After the Red Sox Lost 8 in a Row and Died" LDS Preview Blog
I am coming to you live from the corner of a Starbucks inside Barnes and Noble. I'm currently using free wifi that will ultimately lead to my identity being stolen to bring you the absolute ok-est MLB postseason prediction blog Southern RI has to offer.
The title is correct. I kind of punted on the last month or so of the season. My bad for trying to get a job. Sure, I could waste all our time ripping the Red Sox for completely butchering the way they handled Spring Training, the unfairness of starting the season as defending champs with an 11 game West Coast road trip, the horrible contracts to the wrong guys, or lack of a plan by the luckiest ownership group in sports.
I'm not going to do that.
I am not going to let those overpaid, underachievers ruin October for me. After all, this is the best month of the year and most of those same gentlemen brought me great pleasure this time last year. In the final October of the 2010's I have to mention the Red Sox two World Series titles of the decade. I can confirm those were cool and fun. Obviously I'd rather have the Red Sox here, but there is something nice about being able to enjoy postseason baseball without the stress of your team in the mix. As long as the Yankees don't win it all I'm happy.
Now even though I haven't been paying as close attention as I should to my 2nd/1st depending on the year favorite sport, I still know what's going on. Most importantly, I am a historian of the game. I know the stats that matter; the past. Sure teams can rewrite their histories in October, but as a longstanding narrative guy I think these matter a little more. We all know the Yankees 27 World Series titles, 18 of which came before 1960 guarantee postseason success every year. It's why they have 1 World Series win since 9/11.
"In short series anything can happen" - every baseball announcer of the last 25 years.
Let's look at the match ups.
NLDS: St. Louis Cardinals (91-71, NL Central Champs) vs. Atlanta Braves: (97-65, NL East Champs)
Every year there is a series that unless you're a fan of either team may have not actually happened. Over quick. Lot of day games. You see next to none of it.
Recently, the 2014 ALDS Orioles-Tigers, last years Astros-Indians and Dodgers-Braves LDS' come to mind. This year that series is Braves-Cardinals. With the staggered schedules of the LDS the Braves and Redbirds game 1 start time is 5 pm. Atlanta already is a shitty, apathetic sports city. I'm intrigued to see the vibe at Suntrust.
Braves have a lot of young exciting players on this roster, Albies, Ocuna etc. Josh Donaldson looks to be like his old self. Solid pitching staff. Blah, blah, blah. Here's what matters to me: The Atlanta Braves are 0-7 in the NLDS since 2001. This organization had one the greatest starting rotations ever and won fewer World Series than the Marlins.
The Cardinals are historically one the best franchises in baseball. They are excellent unless it's a World Series against the Red Sox post-Bob Gibson. After a 3 year playoff drought they are back in the postseason. They're just a team that doesn't seem to go too long without some sort of run in October. They've won two pennants this decade; 2011 and 2013. This is a team that was in the NLCS seemingly every year of the early 2010's. It doesn't matter who is actually wearing the uniform. I love the Cards here. I feel like in their first postseason in a few years they'll do what they always do this time of year. The Braves will be the Braves until proven otherwise.
Cards in 4.
Washington Nationals (93-69. wild card) vs Los Angeles Dodgers (106-56, NL West Champs)
The Dodgers are an absolutely fantastic ball club. You probably knew that, but it should be mentioned here.
100+ wins again, ran away with the NL West. Too many stars for Dave Roberts to know what to do with. Many are expecting them to go back the Fall Classic again for the third straight year. While that is entirely possible, as a narrative guy I feel like it won't happen.
I think I can assume this team is on a mission to finally seal the deal this year. Two straight World Series losses. They are under more pressure than any other team in the dance. With this payroll and roster this season is a failure in LA without a Commissioner's Trophy. The Dodgers have been a model of consistency in the NL West for over a decade but have not won a World Series since 1988. Of all the teams dancing with a World Series title they have the longest drought.
Meanwhile, the Washington Nationals were not supposed to be here. I mean they lost their franchise icon in free agency. Sure their rotation is great, but with the Braves, Mets and Phillies all better, not many were expecting the Nats to be playing in October.
I absolutely love their story. It's what baseball is all about. Sure they lost Harper, but Juan Soto may be better. Plus they added Patrick Corbin this off-season. He just so happens to own the Dodgers and is starting game one tonight. I have just fallen in love with the Nationals win their first playoff series in year one post-Harper narrative and am sticking to it here. The Dodgers haven't played a meaningful game since June and I do think the October ghosts come out to play this year. Let's just hope they don't kill Tommy.
Nationals in 5.
Tampa Bay Rays (96-66, wild card) vs. Houston Astros (107-55, AL West Champs)
Two of the smartest organizations in baseball. I have to give those pesky fucking Rays some credit. Their payroll was like $8,500 this year and they still won almost 100 games. They have the worst stadium in baseball, play in front of about 48 people a night, are rumored of becoming a child of divorce franchise bouncing between two cities and are still here.
The Astros on the other hand are the clear cut favorite to win the World Series.
The Rays are an awesome story. Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013. They're a straight up gang of misfit toys and cast offs saying fuck you to the rest of the league.......... but the clock is about to strike midnight.
The Astros won 107 games and have one of the most intimidating starting rotations in recent playoff memory. Two 20 game winners. Oh their line up is pretty good too. George Springer hit 36 HR and drove in 96 and can't even make the starting lineup on their baseball-reference page. Obviously anything can happen, and if there was a team to completely screw up everything, it's the Rays but this team is just too fucking good to lose this early. I saw a stat the other day that Astros pitchers struck out the most batters in the league and Astro hitters struck out the fewest time in the league. Give me that team.
Astros in 3.
Minnesota Twins (101-61, AL Central Champs) vs. New York Yankees (103-59)
For the second straight season the Yankees are playing in the ALDS with 100+ wins against a 100+ win opponent. Yes that's right! ICYMI the Twins won 100 games for the first time since 1965. God Bless the AL Central.
Earlier this year on July 23rd the Twins and Yankees played one of the best games of the year.
These are the two most powerful teams in MLB history. The Twins broke the all-time single season team HR record with 307. The Yankees finished a distant second with 306. Both of these teams fuckin RAKE and have starting rotations that leave more to be desired. I really, really, really want to see the Twins pull it off but as a narrative guy it would be unfair of me to omit the fact that since 2003 the Twins are 2-16 in playoff games, 13 of those losses came against the Yankees. I also am a huge roulette guy. I mean it's been all black for 15 years. Can we mix in one red? My guess is a sad nah.
Yankees in 4. Nobody cares about all your injuries.