October 5, 2007
In the years leading up to 2006, the first two playoff gamees were split most of the time. Since last year, most of the series started off with one team taking a two-games-to-none lead, and at least three of them have so far this year. We could see multiple sweeps, and several days of no baseball as we wait for the league championship series. From the Washington Post, I learned an odd fact about the Yankees in the postseason: Seven times in the last ten years, including each of the last five years, whichever team won the first game in the first-round playoff series in which the Yankees were playing ended up losing the series! See Postseason scores. In none of those series did the Yankees lose the first two games, however, so that pattern may be broken this year.
Before last night, J.R. Tabathia was just a name to me, a good pitcher with a bright future. Now I know what he is capable of: shutting down the most powerful offense in baseball. The Indians overwhelmed Chien Ming-wang, racking up 12 runs altogether, and tonight they finally converted in a bases-loaded situation in their third attempt, in the eleventh inning. easing the pain of aging veteran Kenny Lofton, who came oh-h, so close to getting a World Series ring in 1997.
The miracle team from Denver is on a roll, and the Phillies haven't figured out how to stop them, wasting their initial home field advantage. Anything can happen with "streaky" teams, however, so even though the Rockies have a huge advantage as they host the next two games, the Phillies are by no means a lost cause. Another veteran with frustrated championship dreams, just may see his wish come true: Todd Helton.
With a season-ending winning percentage of only 52%, the Cubs were not exactly a leading candidate to reach the World Series. So it wasn't a huge surprise that the Diamondbacks beat them handily in the first two games, held in Phoenix. The Cubs still need to break through that psychological barrier of superstition if they are to avoid going a full one hundred years without a world championship.
(Sorry, I ran out of appropriate puns.) Boston has been dominant for most of the season, and they've got plenty of veterans who know how to win postseason games, so I figure they will probably sweep the Angels. Their late-season slump they suffered, almost giving up first place to the Yankees, may have been enough to scare them out of their complacency.
As expected, the Nationals' replacement first baseman this year, Dmitri Young, was named National League comeback player of the year. At age 33, he was washed up until Nats GM Jim Bowden gave him a call, offering him a chance in the lineup, as long as he shaped up. Well, he did, and he came close to winning the NL batting title, ending the season with a .320 batting average, eighth in the National League. Not too shabby. There is the awkward question about next year, when the reliable slugger Nick Johnson is expected to return to first base. Showing the grace that comes with maturity, Young says he plans to lose 20 pounds and move to the outfield so that Nick can have his old job back once his leg heals. See MLB.com.