For those of you keeping score at home, my preseason picks for the World Series were in fact Anaheim over Houston. Up until a week ago it wasn’t looking the least bit likely, now it’s at least possible (I will admit maybe not probable). But I do still like Anaheim to come out of the American League, I like their lineup 1 through 9, they have the best bench in the post season (the only good thing to come from all their injuries this year was it got time for a lot of different players to get looks). There are concerns about their rotation, but then again in this post season whose rotation doesn’t have questions. The Red Sox in the first round is probably the worst matchup for the Angels, but I’ll take Anaheim in 5. As for the other AL matchup, as much as we all love to pull for the underdog, and as much as the Yankees have shown their vincability this season, you still have to take the Yankees in 4 (Johan Santana alone is worth 1 win for the twins). I then will take the Angels over the Yankees in 6 games. In the National League the series between the Astros and Braves should be interesting. Atlanta has been pretty overlooked all season (the one year they aren’t expected to make noise in the post season they are liable to make their best run). The Astros come in the series as the hottest team in baseball, and have a good balance between their offense led by the killer B’s (now led by the underrated Carlos Beltran) and their rotation led by Clemens and Oswalt. Their biggest concern is clearly their bullpen. In what could be the closest of the 4 opening series look for the Astros to finally beat the Braves in a playoff series.(in 5 games). The St. Louis Cardinals were the best team in baseball all season; the heart of their lineup (Edmonds, Pujols, Rolen, and the addition of Walker) is as good if not better than anyone’s. The Dodgers had an incredible turnaround this season, taking what was the leagues worst offense last year, and turning into a productive unit. Unfortunately it isn’t going to be enough to get them past the Cardinals (St. Louis in 4). The NL championship will be a matchup of NL central rivals St. Louis and Houston. Houston coming off a recent sweep of the Cardinals just to get in the playoffs, could indicate they have their number, but the more likely scenario has the Cardinals avenging that sweep, and taking the series in 6 games. (However if the Astros can force a game 7 do not bet against Roger Clemens). In the World Series look for Bartolo Colon to shake of a bad season, and cap of the postseason by dominating the Cardinals mighty lineup, and the Angels take the series in 7 games.
Elsewhere in major league baseball, Vladamir Guererro sealed up the AL mvp with a great month of September, and leading his Angels into the playoffs. Gary Sheffield and Manny Ramirez get consideration, but Sheffield loses votes because of Alex Rodriguez (and even Hideki Matsui), and Manny loses votes because of David Ortiz.
In the NL my vote for MVP still goes to Adrian Beltre of the Dodgers. Not to take away from Barry Bonds, but Beltre’s Dodgers are in the playoffs, and the Giants are not.
The AL cy young is the easiest of all the post season awards, it hands down goes to Johan Santana of the twins. In the NL however it is another story Randy Johnson has a good argument in that outside of wins and losses he had perhaps the best numbers in the league. If you argue against Johnson because of the wins, by the same token should you then not have to vote for Roy Oswalt who was the leagues only 20 game winner? My vote however goes to Roger Clemens.
The early talk of the NFL is of the early season ‘surprises’, the Jaguars, the Falcons, and the Chiefs. The Jaguars should not have snuck up on anyone, they have been a solid franchise headed in the right direction, but they also realistically are no better than a 9 and 7 team. The Falcons early wins should be looked at a little more closely, they barely got by San Francisco, and any team that wins a 6-3 football game has some issues on their offense. As for the Chiefs their struggles should not really surprise, yes they were 13 and 3 last year, but at least 3 of those wins were thanks to special teams heroics. They had a terrible defense, and it hasn’t improved, their passing game is weak, and now defenses are just focusing on stopping the running game. The chiefs will win some games, but they are not a playoff team this year. The real early season surprise is the New York Giants. This is a team that won just 4 games last season, and heading into this season looked even worse. The fact that Mark Rypien – ahem – I mean Kurt Warner, has been playing as well as he is, has to qualify as a ‘surprise’. All of that said, the Giants will not be in the Playoff hunt, but they may have already won more games than some people expected them to win all season.
Leigh D is the sports editor of T.E.N Magazine. You can visit the site at http://www.tenwebzine.com. You will be able to find more great articles on sports, politics or other subjects, so check it out!