By Michael Mullen
As the leaves fall and the air cools, many sports fans are drawn to football with its physical impact and grind it out mentality. But baseball season is just not over yet. America’s pastime is closing in on the most thrilling part of the year. The postseason always brings out the true competitors of each team.
So what is there to watch for this postseason? ESPN analysts and statisticians get paid really well to determine a winner and spend endless hours pouring over the numbers they think will point out a clear winner, but that is the best aspect of sports: anything can happen. Now I’m not an expert and I don’t get paid to pick a winner, but my editor has given me the chance to pick one. As a side note, I consider myself to be unbiased because my team, the Philadelphia Phillies, didn’t make the playoffs this season.
Lets start with the NLCS matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants. The Cardinals are an interesting team to watch because they have made it this far without the help of a strong core of starting pitchers. Most of the time, raw offensive power is not enough to run the table. With the level of pitching that comes out during the postseason, it is common to see offenses struggle and without a strong defense to keep the game close, there is no way to be successful. Their bullpen has struggled all year and their new manager, Mike Matheny, has not been the strongest tactician. All of these factors could play into the outcome of each game.
The fun part of this series is that the San Francisco Giants will also look to simply outhit and outscore the Cardinals. With a lineup that includes Buster Posey, Angel Pagan and the “Kung Fu Panda,” Pablo Sandoval, there is no doubt that the ball will be flying around the stadium.
As for the ALCS, the Detroit Tigers are led by offensive stars in Austin Jackson, Prince Fielder and the Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera. They have a world-class pitcher in Justin Verlander. Unfortunately, the bullpen, which will surely have plenty of activity in the series due to the inability of the rest of the starters to dominate, has been a source of frustration for manager Jim Leyland.
The New York Yankees are on the road to a World Series, but now they are going to have to do it without Captain Clutch. Derek Jeter broke his ankle in the first game of the series and he will be out for the rest of the postseason. Normally, this would mean that they lose a great leader, a defensive star and a consistent bat, but the team could go on with the rest of the great bats in the lineup. But to say Alex Rodriguez is struggling would be like saying his 275 million dollar contract is chump change. Robinson Cano has had a similarly disappointing hitless streak. The only plus side is that the starting rotation is working well and has the ability to shut down any team.
So who do I think will win? Who will overcome every weakness, horrible call and freak bounce to become World Series champs? I still have to go with the Yankees on this one. They have too many weapons and are too strong defensively to be stopped by the loss of their captain. Regardless of who comes out victorious, this postseason is sure to entertain.