Monday, October 5, 2009

Postseason Ahead...

The 8, ohh, um...9(?) teams for the 2009 postseason are all finalized. The National League will see division champions Philadelphia, St. Louis and Los Angeles, as well as Wild Card winner Colorado fighting it out for a trip to the World Series. The American League has Wild Card winner Boston joining division winners New York and Anaheim, while Detroit and Minnesota still must play a one game play-in to clinch the AL Central.

This postseason should be great for MLB. There are lots of big market teams in the Yankees, the Dodgers, the Angels and the Phillies to draw TV ratings. There is that team with the national following, in the Red Sox, to appeal to the masses. There are also regional favorites like the Cardinals to draw viewers, as well as smaller market Cinderella squads like the Rockies and whoever the AL Central winner turns out to be, that should interest news sources and other fans.

I am definitely looking forward to all the match ups this postseason. It's truly tough to pick a favorite out of this group.

The Phillies have great offense (five '09 all stars) and a couple veteran Cy Young Award winners as well as a World Series MVP on their pitching staff, but that closer situation is shaky.

The Yankees certainly don't have to worry about their closer spot, as Mariano Rivera has had that spot sewn up for over a decade. The Yankees' MLB best record 103-59 is impressive, but there have been times the best record got bounced right out of the playoffs...just ask the 2001 Mariners who won 116 regular season games.

The Dodgers have added some pieces, like Vicente Padilla, Jon Garland, George Sherrill and Jim Thome to help with the stretch drive. Padilla is 4-0 as a starter for LA. Garland went 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA with the Dodgers. Sherrill had a 0.65 ERA in 30 appearances with the Dodgers. Thome was just 4-for-17 for the Dodgers, with no extra base hits, but he is the 12th all time leader in homeruns, so that's valuable.

The Cardinal have a long history, with 10 World Series titles. Manager Tony LaRussa has won a couple of those things too. Albert Pujols is a marquee name who has had another MVP calibre season with 47 homers, 135 RBI and a .327 avg.

Colorado stormed over the Phillies with a first round sweep two years ago, on their way to the World Series. Can Todd Helton and Ubaldo Jimenez do it again?

The Red Sox have all star Jason Bay who set career highs in HR and RBI this season, in his first full year in Boston. They've also got their new franchise leader in saves, Jonathan Papelbon. The Red Sox have won 2 of the past 5 World Series championships and hope to add to it.

The Angels have been riding the tribute vibe all season, as they've been in control on the AL West for months and seem to have been doing it all for teammate Nick Adenhart, who was killed by a drunk driver in April. Their 97 wins were second best in the Majors.

And then there is the Twins or the Tigers. Minnesota won a coin toss weeks ago, to decide home field advantage for this game, if it was necessary. The game would have been played on Monday, but Metrodome plays host to NFL Monday Night Football, so the single game play-in will happen on Tuesday. If the Twins get in, they will be riding momentum, as they won 7 of their past 10 to catch the Tigers. If Detroit advances, they'll be riding high after fighting their way into the second season. The Twins lost a play-in game on the road last year to the White Sox. Head to head this season, the Tigers won 7, the Twins won 11.

No matter who you root for, or against, Autumn baseball is here and we'll all enjoy it. Here's to another memorable second season.

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Former Phillie Mitch Williams began a new radio gig, this past Saturday. Airing weekly on Saturday for the remainder of the year on Sirius/XM's MLB Home Plate, Mitch and former ML infielder Rico Petrocelli have teamed up to host Remember When. This adds to Mitch's duties as a studio analyst on the MLB Network. The new show will feature varied talk about the vast history of baseball. The show is call in format and will feature weekly guests. Check it out on MLB Home Plate.

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