You’re likely pondering the title of this edition of Good Sports. Well, I’m not really planning on concealing my bias for the New York Mets, so why not have it all up front. I’m rooting for the Amazins, let’s not deny it. However, I will put my bias on hold for who I think will actually make it to the end of this race. Without further adieu:
San Francisco Giants at New York Mets
And for the second row in a year, those in orange and blue will be in the playoffs. The Mets are set to host the orange half of their legacy at Citi Field. As has been expounded upon endlessly all season, this is an even year so the Giants are set to win it all. I would never count them out, but the team did falter down the stretch and allowed the Dodgers to sneak into winning the division. For that, I’d hazard a guess that their even-year bullshit is at its end in the hands of their ace Madison Bumgarner, while the Mets will float through on the arm of their own god, Noah Syndergaard.
Mets/Giants at Chicago Cubs
Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs will end up hosting the winner of that wild-card game. In the case of the home team, they’ll be facing the team that swept them in last season’s NL Championship Series. This year, though, the Cubbies are one of the best versions they’ve ever been and will likely be able to handle the Mets. They should also be able to handle the Giants, even with the fact that it’s an even year. The only thing I’d be nervous about is that the greatest of teams have fallen to underdogs (see when the ’01 Yankees rode a wave of patriotism to topple the winningest team in MLB history, the ’01 Mariners.) While the Cubs have everything locked up on paper – a solid outfield, an expected MVP in Kris Bryant, the leadership of Anthony Rizzo, the managerial team under Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein, and the aces Jake Arrieta, Jon Lackey, Jason Hammel and Jon Lester.
Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals
It was a bit of a surprise after the Dodgers reclaimed the lead in the NL West, only because a lot of people had hindered their chances of even making the playoffs on the prowess of the phenom Clayton Kershaw. When he went down in June with a herniated disc in his back, a lot of pundits predicted their fall in the rankings. Instead, the team gathered together and began a grand rebound on the arms of Kenta Maeda, Brandon McCarthy and the acquired Rich Hill, as well as the bats of Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Joc Pederson. I focus more on this because I foresee this train won’t stop rolling, as they roll their way through Washington and their recently shaken up roster (by injuries, natch). If Daniel Murphy isn’t as ready as he was last October, or Stephen Strasburg isn’t back for business, then the Nats will fall. I do see this going the full five, of course, so prepare for some jetlag.
Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays
After all the bouncing back and forth between the top four teams in the AL East, the dust has settled and found the Red Sox atop the division, the Yankees on the outside looking in, and the middle two snagging both Wild Card Spots. Five years ago this matchup would have happened anyway, as the teams tied for second place. As it is, we have two surprisingly even teams facing off north of the border. Tomorrow night, postseason baseball will begin in the shadow of the CN Tower, and I have to think the visiting team will take the turf. A little analysis shows that John Gibbons’ choice for Blue Jays starter, Marcus Stroman, has done quite poorly against the Orioles this season, racking up over a 7.00 ERA. Meanwhile, Chris Tillman, the clear ace for Baltimore, will take the mound. I’m putting this down to simple historical logic. A longer series would likely result in Toronto’s bats outdueling Baltimore’s poor rotation back-end, but this is merely a one-off.
Orioles/Blue Jays at Texas Rangers
After the Wild Card game sorts itself out, one of the embattled Bird teams of the AL East will have to head down to Arlington and face off against the Texas Rangers. Despite a slow start, the Rangers have come into full form, capturing the best record in the American League for the first time in franchise history. With the one-two punch of Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels, I imagine Texas will be back in the ALCS in short order, whichever team makes it to this division series.
Boston Red Sox at Cleveland Indians
During David Ortiz’s retirement tour, the media has focused a lot on how this may even be the best season he’s experienced. Could that translate to a World Series win for the fourth time in his storied career? First he’ll have to make his way past former manager Terry Francona’s new team, the Cleveland Indians. Francona has transformed the Indians in three short years from perennial basement dwellers to a winning experience. Although they’ve only reached the postseason for one game (losing to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013 in a wild-card match), the Indians will prove troublesome for the Red Sox. Pitching is solid with Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber, while hitting will come from Mike Napoli, Carlos Santana and the like. However, Mookie Betts and David Ortiz are having career years and the experience behind the team (Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia) will likely overcome the upstart Indians.
Beyond this stage, I don’t want to have full paragraphs dedicated to the later rounds until they’re set. I’ll do a round two and a World Series article when they pop up. For now, my predictions are that the Cubs will arrive at their first World Series in 71 years after ousting the equally deserving Dodgers in the NLCS. Then, the bombastic Red Sox will be stifled by the insane pitching of the Rangers.
Afterwards…well I just can’t do it…I can’t predict the impossible. There have been signs that this is the end of all life as we know it, but I’m still going to go with the opposite so I’m not personally disappointed. The other boys in blue, the Chicago Cubs will fall in six games to the Texas Rangers, who end their own franchise-long curse.