What the time away did provide me with was a little inspiration. I thought about the impending Divisional series against the Angels, and how our Red Sox would fare. I thought about our rotation, our lineup, and our chances. And, after all the thinking was done, I've come to a conclusion: I have no frickin clue what's going to happen. And that frightens me just a tad. Obviously, history says they own the Halos, and that reaffirms my suspicion that Beckett and Lester will overpower the Angels' hitters, and the Sox will come home to lock up an ALCS berth in three games, four tops. But another part of me, the part that witnessed the Sox' somewhat mediocre end to the season, says that the Halos have had enough of being the Sox' red-headed step-brother, and will come at them full-force, possibly forcing five games. The Red Sox know a thing or two about subverting history, about rewriting their fate.
Of course, this is all overshadowed by the real question: do these Red Sox have what it takes to match up against the Yankees, owners of baseball's best record and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs? Again, we look to history to tell the tale. It wasn't long ago the Yankees were the dominant force in baseball. Teams withered under their onslaught of hitting and power pitching. And it appears they've regained that dominance, though it has yet to be playoff-tested. And, again, the Sox have broken history, have changed the face of fortune by executing that dramatic comeback back in 2004. Now, five years and two championships later, do the Sox have what it takes to keep history telling their story?One thing I am sure of is that these playoffs will be exciting, dramatic, and a ton of fun. The Yanks, who play either Minnesota or Detroit, look to roll easily into the second round. Unless Detroit, who still have one more regular-season game against the Twins to determine the AL Central Pennant-holder, can come rolling tough into the Bronx and take a game, the Yankees will get their chance to face the victor of the Sox-Angels series, most likely with an extra day or two of rest. Despite the dominance of Justin Verlander, who could potentially take Game 1 in Yankee Stadium, the Tigers are not much of a threat to New York. Only if Verlander is lights-out not once, but twice, do they even have a remote shot.
All trepidation aside, I do believe the Red Sox and Yankees will meet in the ALCS, and I do believe it will be one hell of a show. The Red Sox have a lineup to match the Yankees, especially when guys like JD Drew, Jason Bay, and Kevin Youkilis are hitting the ball. And, Papi is still Papi; even through his struggles early in the season, he's remained a conerstone of the Sox' batting order, and I imagine there are still few pitchers who enjoy seeing him step to the plate. The biggest question, in my mind, is whether our rotation can silence (or at least quiet down) the Yankees' bats. That will be the key. The Sox need Beckett, Lester, Dice-K and Clay Buchnuts to hit their marks and keep the offense in the game. And, you know what? I think they will. I don't believe this will be a series of blow-outs. I think these will be tight games, anxiety-inducing games, liver-destroying games that make us all remember why baseball is so much fun to watch, especially in October.
Just to disprove the notion of curses, be they video game- or magazine cover-induced, I'm calling the playoffs thus:
American League Divisional Series 'A': Yankees over Tigers/Twins in 4
American League Divisional Series 'B': Red Sox over Angels in 4
National League Divisional Series 'A': Phillies over Rockies in 4
National League Divisional Series 'B': Cardinals over Dodgers in 5
American League Championship Series 'A': Red Sox over Yankees in 7
National League Championship Series 'B': Cardinals over Phillies in 6
2009 World Series: Red Sox over Cardinals in the most amazing World Series in ages, in 7 games.
Let the comments, insults, questions and diatribes BEGIN!
GO RED SOX!