Here are some fearless ALCS predictions from the crew at Bronx Banter.
First of all, I predict that I’ll have worked myself up into a state of near fury/exhaustion before the first pitch is thrown tonight. I’ve got nothing against Texas. I’ve never been there, other than a stop at the Dallas airport, but mostly, I admire Texas. But I predict that I’ll be cursing it up-and-down for the duration of the series. The sight of former president Bush will be fodder enough to get me going I figure.
I also predict that my wife will have had it up to hear with me by Saturday night.
As much as it bothers me to say, I think the Yanks will win the series. At least they should. The thought of them losing…no, there’s no way to make that palatable. Ron Washington is cool, sure, and I’ve got nothing against Michael Young. I’ve always loved Vlady. But collectively, the Rangers come across as a college team, youthful spirit, antler-horns, hollering, rah-rah. And why shouldn’t they next to the business-like Bombers? Still, that doesn’t mean I have to find it “refreshing.”
I figure Mo is going to blow one game and the Yanks will beat Lee. Oh, and if A.J. Burnett gets a start, he’ll do okay.
The Rangers will steal at will against Posada.
I don’t have a feeling about Alex Rodriguez but he’s due to catch fire and be a monster. He was terrific down the stretch. I’d be as geeked as the next guy if he goes on a tear.
Also, I fear Nelson Cruz.
Yankees in 5. Superstition makes me nervous calling for a Yankee victory in fewer than 6 games, but really, if my thoughts and actions have such little impact on my own life, they can’t possibly affect a major league baseball game. The Yankees will drop one in Texas, find a way to win Cliff Lee’s start, and win the pennant in the Bronx. While I’m reading tea leaves, I see another effective start for Hughes, at least one Yankee bullpen implosion and some big hits from Mr. Cano. Also, look for some creative Bronx cheers for Cliff Lee – it’s not often you have to boo a guy you’re simultaneously wooing for next season.
I predict that the most annoying Ranger batter will be Michael Young, most annoying pitcher will be a tie between the twoDdarrens, and all three of them will be eclipsed by Nolan Ryan, who will be on camera so often that he’ll be the number-two most-annoying sports figure this fall (Nobody’s touching Favre. execpt Favre, obviously).
In no particular order…
Derek Jeter will be replaced by something with greater mobility and range …. Dalek Jeter.
Nelson Cruz’s “Boomstick” will be seized as a “weapon of run production”.
Even prior to his Game 3 start, Cliff Lee will use his extraordinary abilities to sense that there are more than the supposed 33 miners in that Chilean mine, and fly his “invisible jet” to Chile to assist in the rescue of two more miners.
Jorge Posada will be caught in a rundown . . . by Bengie Molina.
The Steinbrenner Memorial will gain sentience during the 7th-inning stretch in game 3. Its eyes will start to glow bright red, and the mouth will move, singing “God Bless America”. Josh Hamilton will then be vaporized by beams from the memorial’s eyes.
Joe Girardi will relieve A.J. Burnett during the fifth inning of game 4, and bring in the XXL Chalupa.
Ever since the Rangers eliminated the Rays, all I’ve read and heard about is the looming presence of Cliff Lee. Well, I think the Lee Factor is being overstated. At best, he will make two starts in the Championship Series, and that’s only if the Rangers extend the series to seven games. Lee is obviously very good, but he’s not even the best pitcher in the American League, nor in this particular postseason. And the Yankees have reached Lee in recent memory, including last year’s Game Five loss in the World Series.
It will be important for the Yankees to win in six, so as to avoid having to face Lee on the road in a decisive seventh game. I think the Yankees can do it, because of the advantages they have in pitching depth, lineup strength at the bottom, and of course, the closer’s role. The Yankees’ lineup is so deep that it will give the Rangers’ bullpen repeated matchup problems; Ron Washington had little confidence in using his relievers, outside of Neftali Feliz, in the Division Series, so that trend says a lot about his mostly inexperienced corps of relievers.
A lot has been made of the Rangers’ speed against Jorge Posada, but the Rays would have posed an even bigger problem because they have even more speed than Texas. The Rangers have one big-time base stealer in leadoff man Elvis Andrus, but he was also caught 15 times in 47 attempts and is susceptible to slumps; against good pitching, he can be kept off the bases. Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz have good speed, but they are not blazers. I think the Rangers’ speed can be controlled.
So what do I expect? The Rangers are a very good team, but the Yankees had the better record, against tougher competition, and I think that should hold forth. I expect a good, competitive series, much like last year’s ALCS against the Angels, with the Yankees winning in six.
Yankees 3, Rangers 3: In Game 7, Cliff Lee ascends to a higher inter-dimensional plane midway through the third inning, and Bud Selig declares a tie.
The funny thing about sports is that it only takes a game or two for the conventional wisdom to swing around a hundred and eighty degrees. It wasn’t too long ago that people were expecting the Yankees to bow out of these playoffs early. They were too old, the starting rotation was a disaster, and — oh, yeah — they were really old. After three games against the Twins and six days resting, they’re suddenly the overwhelming favorites to reach the World Series. It would be easy for me to just agree with everyone and say something safe like “Yankees in 7,” but that would be boring. Here’s what will happen.
Do you really think CC will have two clunkers in a row? Not likely. Eight innings from Sabathia, one from Mo, turn out the lights.
I fully realize that any non-Yankee fan reading this next statement will vomit all over his keyboard, but here it is: Phil Hughes strikes me as a true Yankee. There. I said it. He just seems to get it. He says the right things when he wins, and he says the right things when he loses. Unlike other guys on the staff, he stands up and takes the heat when he pitches poorly and doesn’t try to convince us that he actually pitched well, even though we all watched and know he didn’t. (I’m looking at you, Joba.) But back to Game 2. Hughes will be good enough to win, maybe even great. Yanks win this one, too.
I love Andy Pettitte, but he’s pitching against Cliff Lee. Lee will give up a lead-off single to Jeter, a blooper that arcs just over the infield. Then he’ll retire everyone else. His line will look like this: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 27 Ks.
Now here’s where I get a little crazy. A.J. Burnett will win this game. Stick with me, though. I know he’s got 15 losses. I know that if his ERA were a holiday it would be Memorial Day. But over the past two years Burnett has never ever pitched the way I expected him to on a given night. My expectation here, of course, is that he’ll implode in the second inning and give way to a conga line of Dustin Moseley, Sergio Mitre, and Ed Whitson. But to paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, if every instinct I’ve ever had about A.J. Burnett has been wrong, then the opposite would have to be correct. A.J. Burnett will win this game.
CC closes out the series with another dominant win, wrapping up his second straight ALCS MVP in the process. But here’s the interesting thing. As Sabathia leaves the mound to tumultuous applause with one out in the ninth, the cameras follow him as heads to the Yankee dugout and finds a seat next to… Cliff Lee! Figuring there’s no need to proceed with the usual “we’ll evaluate everything in the off-season” charade, Brian Cashman drew up a contract during the seventh inning stretch and Lee will ink it as soon as the final out is recorded. Cashman, of course, will deny all this, but he will let slip that a press conference has been scheduled for early December.
So there you have it. Yanks in 5.
Yankees in 5
Reason: Much has been made of the Yankees being 1-4 against the Rangers in Texas in September. If you trot out such lockdown relievers as Joba Chamberlain, Chad Gaudin, and Sergio Mitre, you’d be 1-4 against any team with a respectable offense, let alone the Rangers. At least there wasn’t a Royce Ring sighting.
The news of Hughes pitching Game 2 positions the Yankee rotation to be L-R-L-R-L-R-L if it goes the distance, which keeps the Rangers’ lineup
off-balance. You can see the method behind Girardi’s madness. Hughes has yet to allow an earned run in three appearances in Arlington, amassing a 2-0 record, a WHIP of 0.46, and holding the Rangers to a .064 batting average. Confidence has to be high. Plus, it gives Pettitte extra days to rest the groin. It’s conceivable that the Yankees return home with a 2-0 series lead, which could mean AJ Burnett’s Game 4 could mean a sweep, or put them in position to go up 3-1. At that point, I like my chances with CC at home to lock it down.
[Drawing by Larry Roibal]