Al’s View: Playoff Preview

By: Al Hudson-October 1, 2008

Isn’t it amazing that every year in all sports we are faced with a controversy of some sorts. The Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox finished the regular season in a tie for first place in the American League Central Division. The White Sox won a coin flip to determine home field for the playoff. Why was a coin flip necessary?

thomej-swing08.jpgDuring the regular season the Twins and White Sox met eighteen times. The Twins prevailed 10-8 in their head-to-head competition. Shouldn’t the Twins have been awarded home field for the play-in regular season games? If they had finished 9-9 in head to head, then, a coin flip would be necessary, but suppose the Twins had won 15-3, where is the fairness in that?

Head-to-head competition is part of the playoff format. If for example, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox had finished in a tie for first place, the Rays would have been awarded first place, because they had won more games in head-to-head against the Red Sox. Why? Because the Red Sox received a bid as the Wild Card team, allowing both to compete in the playoffs. But, the Rays would receive a home field advantage against their opponent because they were a division winner. It appears to me that the same rule was misapplied in the Twins and White Sox decision.

I am not saying the Twins would have won the game in Minneapolis, but they should have had the chance.

The White Sox and the Rays are a very intriguing matchup. It is probably the hardest to predict. I like the hot team coming into the playoffs. Momentum should carry the White Sox past what I believe will be a "happy to be there" Tampa Bay team. I have been wrong on the Rays all year, but I just can’t pick them. They have to sweep the first two games to win this series.

The Red Sox enter the 2008 post season as the defending World Series Champion. Starting on the road at Anaheim against the Angels will favor the Angels, who won 100 games this year. However, recent history has shown the Red Sox seem to rise to the occasion in the playoffs.

In 2008, the Angels won eight out of nine from the Red Sox. Even though they play in a weaker division, the Angels seemed to relish a chance to beat Boston.

The key points to look at are: (1) As good as Josh Beckett has been in the playoffs, is his oblique injury going to hamper his performance? (2) How effective will Mike Lowell and JD Drew be with their nagging injuries? (3) Will Jason Bay’s lack of playoff experience actually replace Manny as an offensive threat? (4) If the Angels can get a lead, their bullpen can finish the deal (5) Will Mark Teixeira make the Angels a better offensive machine than the Red Sox?

My heart says Boston in four, but my pick is the Angels to displace the monkey, and win this series in four.

ramirezm-pressconf08.jpgThe Dodgers and Cubs series comes down to pitching. Both teams have a pitching advantage in this series. The Cubs have better depth on the mound, but the Dodgers strength is from the right side and the Cubs are a right-handed hitting team. What about Manny? Granted, he has changed the atmosphere in Los Angeles, it is too much to ask of one hitter to dominate a series?

The key to this series is Carlos Zambrano. If he wins, the Cubs win. I hope this is the magical year for the Cubs. Can you imagine if Harry Caray was still alive to call a CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!

In the Beefeater Bowl, the Phillies and the Brewers have the potential to play a very entertaining offensive series. With CC Sabathia, Prince Fielder, and Ryan Howard, this could be the makings of a six-man tag event, or a formidable team to enter against Joey Chestnut, Kobayashi, and the Black Widow in a beer and brats eating contest.

This should be the easiest to pick. The Phillies will only have to face Sabathia one time. The Phillies have one of the best bullpens in the National League, while the Brewers have the worst. I think management put Dale Sveum in a tough position. They fired manager Ned Yost with 12 games to play, but Sabathia was the reason they made the playoffs. It takes a team effort to win in the post-season, and I am afraid the Brewers are fragmented.

Sorry the Atlanta Braves are not in the playoffs again this year, but it is a small price to pay when the Yankees and the Mets are both playing golf today.

Questions and comments should be sent: [email protected]