After four relatively lop-sided division series, it finally feels like October in the baseball world. The Dodgers and Phillies are literally brawling over in the NLCS while the Red Sox and Rays are hammering their way to ultimate bragging rights in the AL East. Here are some playoff musings for you to mull over between shutouts, homers and hit-batters:
For most teams, having to deactivate the reigning World Series MVP would spell disaster but that has not been the case for the Red Sox thanks to Kevin Youkilis. The Gold Glove winning first baseman has done a tremendous job filling the void left by Mike Lowell at the hot corner. In the playoffs so far Youkilis is hitting .357 and slugging .571.
One has to wonder what’s going through the minds of the Steinbrenner Brothers this off-season. Joe Torre is managing in the postseason for the 13th consecutive season while the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since 1993. Torre refused to re-sign with the Yankees last year after the contract the team offered him would have reduced his salary. Along with the Rays’ name change incident, this is perhaps the best proof available that there is a God. The Yankees are sitting at home watching while Torre is surfing, eating grass drinks, and managing in the postseason.
In any fantasy postseason baseball league the two stars would have to be Jonathan Papelbon and Manny Ramirez. Papelbon has yet to surrender a run in 22 career postseason innings. He’s allowed only two hits and posted 10 strikeouts in five games so far this playoff season. In the National League, Manny Ramirez is hitting .450 with three homers and eight RBI over the Dodgers’ first six playoff games. With those numbers one really has no choice but to let “Manny be Manny”.
In contrast the two fantasy duds would be Josh Beckett and Ryan Howard. Apparently October is no longer Josh Beckett’s month. After injuring an oblique muscle during a bullpen session last month, he has posted an 11.57 ERA in two starts. He has already given up five home runs compared to just one in four starts during last year’s postseason. The National League’s reigning home run and RBI champ, Ryan Howard, is hitting just .174 with no homers and one RBI in seven games. Lucky for him he is showing some promise as a poet so he can always switch careers if need be. It’s sort of a miracle the Phils have gone as far as they have with their best player giving them no production.
While it would be great for Tampa Bay to make the World Series for the sake of the franchise, recent history has shown that having the underdog in the championship creates a rather one-sided series (sorry Sarah Palin). Their sudden success this season echoes that of the ‘06 Tigers and ’07 Rockies, both of whom failed miserably upon reaching the World Series.
Finally, can we all agree on the fact that a Dodgers-Red Sox World Series would make for awesome T.V.? Manny’s return to Fenway, under the management of Joe Torre. I’m betting he will get booed. Derek Lowe and Nomar Garciaparra would also return to the franchise they will forever be linked with. And then there’s J.D. Drew, who is finally starting to live up to his potential as a Red Sox player after he greatly underperformed while wearing a Dodger’s uniform. And with the way things are going for the Pats this season, New England could use some awesome T.V.
Notice: Stats do not include Games 3 of the ALCS and 4 of the NLCS