Ah!, the leaves are falling and the long awaited post-season is underway in baseball.
With the first round complete and the final four set, this gives me a moment to give my two-cents on who will win this year's World Series.
Although the Yankees have the highest payroll, their record did not show how good they really can be. Joe Girardi, Derek Jeter and the crew cruised on in to the playoffs without trying to win the division, only to thump the Twins out in three games. Their lineup is loaded with hitters in Teixiera, Rodriguez, and Swisher with the captain, Derek Jeter, leading the way.
Texas, meanwhile, are the feel good story of the year. Rising like a Phoenix out of the ashes of turmoil, the Nolan Ryan-owned Rangers added Cliff Lee to their rotation and ran way with the West.
Key for Texas: Josh Hamilton – the slugger returning from injury was sub-par during the division series. Given that, they won three road games and utilized aggressive play to down the Rays. If Hamilton's bat comes around, the Yanks are in deep trouble.
Key For the Yankees: A.J. Burnett and Boone Logan – Yes, two pitchers. I think that even with Cliff Lee New York's rotation is just a tad better, but Game 4 starter Burnett needs to find the strike zone and add some movement on the ball like he did in year's past to give the Yanks the slightest bit of a chance in that game. Logan could be the biggest piece of the puzzle. He is lights out against lefties that are hitting just .190 against Logan with no homers: A nightmare for Hamilton trying to find his swing.
They split the series during the season but the Yanks will prevail in six games. Here is why?
It would be real easy to pick the new guy. They are a nice team to watch but in the end, he Yanks have the experience necessary to move on. Despite adding two lefties to combat the Yankee lineup, New York has too many that can hit and make a difference. Hughes wins two games and is the MVP.
This is the best possible matchup that MLB could have wished for as the Giants are probably the only team that would not have been swept against the Phils. The two rotations are going to be a treat to watch as the Phillies look to prove they are one of the best National League teams in the history of the game.
This could also be the most exciting NLCS in recent memory as all games could easily end up being ninth inning thrillers. Halliday vs Lincecum, Oswalt vs Sanchez, Hamels vs Cain; you cannot get any better than that.
Key for the Giants: Mr. TBA, the Game 4 starting pitcher. If the Phillies are up three games it could be Lincecum. On short rest, the Phils may just sweep it. If the series is close, Madison Bumgarner, age 20, could become a star with a solid performance, or get waxed by the Phillies experience. A loss in game four by the Giants equals a World Series berth for the Phillies.
Key for the Phillies: Jimmy Rollins. He has always been a catalyst for the Phillies in the past. When he hits, the fans go wild. That energy should spark the sporadic offense. If that happens, a four or five game series could be the result. If Rollins does not perform at the plate, the offense may sputter against the Giants pitching and it may be a Series-by-the-Bay.
With the same reason as above, I'll pick the Phillies. Aubrey Huff (.290-35HRs) is the only slugger in the Giant lineup that can wow a crowd. Rookie of the year candidate Buster Posey is hitting .305, but if that is the only protection for Huff, The Giants are in trouble. The Phillies have too much pitching and too much hitting for the Giants to handle. The Phillies dump the Giants in five.
WORLD SERIES REMATCH
The Key for both will be the closers. Mariano Rivera and Brad Lidge will have to be lights out in order for their team to win. Lidge has a habit of making the win more exciting than it should be and Rivera, lights out in October, is starting to show chinks in his armor. One slip up by either could swing momentum against their team.
Me picking a World Series rematch is a safe but logical and realistic prediction. The rematch will be everything MLB baseball could want in a rivalry as it will send the ratings through the roof in one of the most exciting Series in history.
Halliday will win both his starts and pitch in a third game from the pen to win the MVP as the Phillies will upend the Yanks in seven.