Before we begin today, let me tip my cap to Broderick Crawford for making this date memorable…
Back at the end of March, I predicted the outcome of the MLB regular season. I shall revisit those predictions here simply to provide some context to the forthcoming predictions for the MLB Playoffs that are underway.
- I picked the Red Sox and the Indians to win their divisions – and they did.
- I picked the Astros to finish second to the Rangers in the AL West. The Astros won the division in a walk and the Rangers finished below .500. I did have the Astros in the playoffs as a wildcard.
- I picked the Nats, Cubs and Dodgers to win their divisions – and they did.
- I had the Mets as the NL wildcard team and that was not even close.
Those of you who have been reading these rants for a while will look at the description of the predictions above and think that it is more than a tad unusual for me to be so accurate. And so, in order to present a full picture of the predictions from March 30, 2017, here are some other predictions that did not turn out nearly as well:
- Blue Jays to finish second in the AL East
- Tigers to finish second in the AL Central and Twins to finish fourth.
- Giants to finish second in the NL West.
- D-Backs and Rockies categorized as “after-thoughts”.
Since those predictions came to you for free, you should have known immediately what they were worth. The same goes for the prognostications that follow here.
We know that the Yankees will advance to play the Indians in the AL based on their win over the Twins last night at Yankee Stadium. Tonight, I believe that the D-Backs will win their play-in game over the Rockies and set the bracket in the National League.
What I would prefer to see in the World Series is an encore performance from last year. No one who is a baseball fan could have been bored or disinterested in last year’s World Series. Even without the story lines of each team going long periods of time without a championship, the games themselves were more than interesting and the seventh game was as good as it could get – – unless you were an Indians’ fan. So, if I could wave a magic wand and start the Playoffs with the World Series matchup that I want, it would be the Cubs and the Indians.
Other World Series pairings that I would find very interesting from the point of view of a baseball fan:
- Red Sox/Nats: How could you not like Chris Sale versus Max Scherzer?
- Red Sox/Dodgers: How could you not like Chris Sale versus Clayton Kershaw?
- Indians/Dodgers: Hottest team in MLB versus the best team in the National League
Here is how I think things will proceed up to the World Series:
- I like the Astros to beat the Red Sox in the AL Division Series. There are a bunch of really good young players on both of these teams and this should be a great viewing experience for fans. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are going to be around for a long time and they are fun to watch.
- I like the Indians to beat the Yankees simply because they are the better all-around team with a better pitching staff. Oh, and since I mentioned young players who are fun to watch above, please let me remind you that the Indians’ Francisco Lindor is also an outstanding young talent.
- I like the Dodgers to beat the D-Backs in the NL Division Series – – but I add here that this is my least confident prognostication. If the D-Backs find a way to beat Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 here, I think the Dodgers are in deep yogurt.
- I like the Cubs to beat the Nats and I think that Kris Bryant will continue his hot hitting to lead the Cubs to this series win. Too much will be made of the story line that both Bryant and Bryce Harper are from Las Vegas and that ties into the mass shooting there. This is a baseball series, folks; it is not social commentary.
Moving on, the best baseball viewing experience for October 2017 will be the series between the Indians and the Astros. Up until about August 1, the Astros were the best team in the AL; then the Indians caught fire. These are two very good rosters with two very good managers. This series ought to be top-shelf. I like the Indians to win this series and my strong preference would be for it to go 7 games…
While my preference would be for the Cubs to go back to the World Series against the Indians, I cannot take them in a series against the Dodgers. [Aside: If, however, the D-Backs pull the upset in the NLDS, I like the Cubs to prevail.] My crystal ball says that the Dodgers and the Indians will be the last two teams standing.
The last time the Dodgers won it all was in 1988 – almost 30 years ago. That was the “Kirk Gibson Series” that every baseball fan knows about. The last time the Indians won it all was in 1948 – almost 70 years ago. That Indians’ team had some fine players on the roster even though some of the names have receded in the memories of baseball fans:
- Gene Beardon
- Lou Boudreau
- Larry Doby
- Bob Feller
- Joe Gordon
- Bob Lemon
- Dale Mitchell
- Al Rosen
My prediction for 2017 is that the Cleveland Indians win it all and the city celebrates for the month of November ignoring completely the ineptitude of the Cleveland Browns.
Finally, I ran across an interesting baseball stat from 2017 involving a player on a team that finished last in its division and won less than 70 games. Joey Votto played in all 162 games for the Cincinnati Reds this year; he reached base in 150 of those games. He led the NL in OBP at .454 and led the league in OPS with 1.032. If he does not get a significant number of votes for NL MVP, the voters are not paying attention.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………