Now that the regular season finally ended last night, I’m really starting to feel the emptiness of a fall without Yankee baseball. We’ve been spoiled in New York; the last time the Yanks weren’t in the playoffs was 1994, and, outside of its movies, can any of us really remember 1994?
So in the spirit of October — and I hear there’s only one of those — allow me to present my postseason picks with a tinge of sentimentality. These aren’t the teams I think will win, necessarily, but rather the teams I want to win. We start in the American League.
ALDS 1: Angels vs. Red Sox
No self-respecting Yankee fan would ever root for the Red Sox to win a playoff series. Of course, on the flip side of that is the reality that no self-respecting Yankee fan would root for the Angels either. In thise case, though, I’m erring on the side of anti-Red Sox Nation. I’ll watch this series disinterestedly. Last year, the Red Sox ran roughshod over a weak Angels team; this year, the Red Sox are facing off against the team that’s not only the best in the AL but enjoyed a 17-9 September. It shouldn’t be close. (Realistic Pick: Angels in 4)
ALDS 2: White Sox vs. Rays
I’m finding it hard to root against the White Sox. As I’ll get to in a few paragraphs, I’m pulling for the Cubbies in the NL, and I’d love to see an “L” Series in Chicago. Ken Griffey and Jim Thome also deserve the World Series rings that have eluded them throughout their storied careers. But that means I’m rooting against the Cinderella story of the year. So be it, Tampa. I’m pulling for the White Sox, my thoughts on Ozzie Guillen notwithstanding. (Realistic Pick: Rays in 4)
NLDS 1: Phillies vs. Brewers
I spent four years in college a short drive away from first Veterans Stadium and later Citizens Bank Park, and I grew to love the Phillies. Their fans are ridiculous; their teams always manage to lose in spectacular fashion; and it’s really hard to root against them. With Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino at the top of the lineup, and Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard, one of the best pure sluggers around, in the middle, the team is fun to watch. Plus, Mike Mussina drew all of his inspiration this year from one Jamie Moyer, Phillies starter extraordinaire. Sorry, CC, but I’m going with Philadelphia. (Realistic Pick: Phillies in 4)
NLDS 2: Cubs vs. Dodgers
This one’s the tough one. I’d really like to root for the Dodgers. While I believe his time was up in New York, I have always loved Joe Torre, and it would be quite the story to see him bring a World Championship to Los Angeles in his first year there. A win would certainly cement his status as a Hall of Fame manager. Furthemore, now that he’s off the Red Sox, Manny Ramirez is actually fun to watch. But the Dodgers would be a World Series winner less deserving than the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals. They finished five games worse than the Yankees.
Anyway, I have to pull for the Cubs here. I know too many long-suffering fans, and for the sake of baseball history, I would like to see the Cubs win a World Series at some point in my lifetime. There’s a boatload of symmetry in the fact that it’s been 100 years since the team’s last title, and the field is level enough for them to pull it off this year. In this round, at least, I’m cheering on the Cubbies. (Realistic Pick: Cubs in 3)