It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and no, I am not talking about the holiday season. October baseball is in full swing and the postseason magic has been nothing short of stellar. While the play-offs welcomed new teams to the show, experience has proved necessary as the LCS series pits teams who have all appeared in a championship series since 2010. The great thing about the end of the baseball year is not the end itself but the stunning conclu-sion of the scramble to be best of the best. Recent history has shown that literally anything can happen. This year has been full of surprises.
Heading into the postseason, the entire baseball world was talking about the new playoff format, designed to increase competition heading into October as well as incorporate more teams in the playoffs. There seemingly can’t be a game these days without some sort of controversy: the Cardinals eliminated the Braves by a questionable infield fly rule, immediately ruining the legitimacy of the one-game play-in series. This is the type of thing critics were worried about: it is only one game. With that one “bad” call by um-pire Sam Holbrook, the Braves’ season is now defined by a ruling, something that needs to be addressed and changed by commissioner Bud Selig for future baseball postseasons.
This postseason was undoubtedly one of great collapses. Texas and Cincinnati, I’m looking at you. Texas, how do you lose 7 of 9 games to end the season and then choke in the one-game series? The Rang-ers have one of the most high-octane of-fenses led by Josh Hamilton, who had an unreal first half of the season before drop-ping off just like his team did. It’s a shame to see the runners-up the past two years go out like this in a way, but it’s more of a shame to watch them let Hamilton go.
Why wouldn’t they keep a super slug-ger who also had one of his best seasons to date? It just seems downright silly. Switch-ing to the North, the Reds had the most potential heading into the playoffs, end-ing the season with a no-hitter by Homer Bailey. Like the Rangers, the Reds could not hold it together, and they lost three straight to the Giants. The Reds are reach-ing the peak of MLB supremacy: they just need to get past the NLDS first.
The Nationals have finally revived the sports world of the Washington, D.C. area. Nationals general Mike Rizzo has long been handed incredibly high draft picks, and fi-nally, they all came together. The Nationals posted the best record and made the play-offs for the first time since 1981. However, 2012 will most likely be a huge disappoint-ment in the eyes of Nationals fans. How can a number one overall draft pick who had the best season of his career sit on the bench and watch his team blow a ninth-inning lead? How can an up-and-coming teenage star bat .130 in the division series? In a year where everything went right for the Nationals, everything went wrong.
This year might have been the best chance they will have in a while, espe-cially since guys like Jordan Zimmermann and Adam Laroche had career years. Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth are past their prime, and unless aces Gio Gonzalez and Steven Strasburg get some help in the rotation, it might be a long time before the pieces come together and Natitude can get back to the playoffs.
Warning: before you read this section, know that I am a Mets fan, so take all of this with a grain of salt. Right now, the Detroit Tigers lead the New York Yan-kees 2-0 in the ALCS. New York has clearly been ravaged by the loss of its captain Derek Jeter, who limped out of the season with an ankle fracture. Apart from the pitching of closer Jos?e Valverde, the Tigers’ staff has been nothing short of remarkable.
Doug Fister is finally coming into his own as a prominent pitcher in the American League, and the Tigers do have arguably the reigning A.L. MVP and Cy Young winner in Justin Verlander. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta is 10-26 this postseason, and outfielder Del-mon Young has continued to have another great postseason.
The Yankees have been flat on offense, especially Robinson Can?? who is 2-32 at the plate this postseason. Like previous postseason failures, Alex Rodriguez has become the scapegoat for the Yankees’ troubles. The third baseman has been hit-ting 3-23 this postseason and drew laughs from many opposing fans when he was benched in Game 5 of the ALDS. The Yankees would not have even been in the ALCS if not for the revival of 40-year-old Raul Iba?nez, who single-handedly capitu-lated New York into contention. The Yan-kees might be able to muster one or two wins in this ALCS, but the Tigers pitching should continue to pounce on the feeble Yankees offense. I’m taking the Tigers in six.
The St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants, the past two World Se-ries Champions, gritted their way to the NLCS with experience and clean baseball. For Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltr??n, this postseason has been a dream. Batting 12-29 with 3 HRs, Beltr??n has been carry-ing the Cardinals throughout the playoffs. The Redbirds still have a battle-tested rota-tion that, despite struggles in the regular season, has seemed to always deliver come crunch-time.
MVP favorite Buster Posey has led the Giants this season, but currently every-one is pitching in to try to get back to the World Series. In a year where Tim Lincecum finally proved his mechanics would tear down his game, Matt Cain has stepped up and is leading the charge on the mound. Although both of these teams have tons of momentum at the moment, I like the Cardinals to take the NLCS in 7 games. Their pitching right now is slightly above the level of the Giants, and as long as they continue to get good production from Beltr??n, St. Louis should repeat at N.L. Champions. If the Di-visional Series was an indication of the entire postseason, the rest of these games should be marvelous to watch.
So who do I like in the World Series? The Tigers clearly have more of an offense, but the Cardinals have an overall better rotation. In this rematch of the 2006 World Series, the Ti-gers will finally get revenge on the Cardinals and win their first title since 1984. Detroit has two of the best players in the game of baseball, and while the Cardinals do have a stellar rota-tion, the Tigers’ high-powered offense led by Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera will be too much for St. Louis to handle. The Tigers will win the World Series in 6 to end a fantastic October postseason.
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