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It’s Going To Be The Best Postseason Ever!

The Astros! The Angels! The Cardinals! The White Sox! It’s going to be the best postseason ever!

No, seriously. There’ll be no overwrought, over-hyped, overly-annoying New York vs. Boston drama. No A-rod, no Papi. No Sheffield, no Manny. No constant droning about Bucky Dent or the Curse of the Bambino. No announcers going on and on about “the idiots” or “the boss” or whatever. And no teams that are only here because they had the bucks to buy their way in. All that stuff is so 2004 (and before).

So keep your 86 years. Keep your 26-going-on-27 championships. This year, there’s an entirely different set of numbers that matter.

The Numbers In Question

This year we get to see four teams that really play baseball, rather than sitting around waiting for the longball. They bunt. They steal. And they’ve got some serious pitching, defense and baserunning skills & speed. And that, my friends, is a good thing. A good thing for you, me and everyone. Let’s take a look…

Pitching

These four teams ranked #1 or #2 in team ERA in their respective leagues: St. Louis was #1 in the NL at 3.49; Houston was #2 at 3.51; Chicago was tied for #1 in the AL at 3.61; and the Angels were #2 at 3.68. Each one of these teams has at least one Cy Young candidate on their pitching staff, too – Roger Clemens for the Astros (some might argue for Andy Pettitte, too); Chris Carpenter for the Cardinals; Bartolo Colón for the Angels; Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland for the White Sox. Yowza!

Defense

These four teams ranked #1 or #2 in fielding in their respective leagues: In the NL, the Astros were tied for #1 with a Fielding Percent of .985 while the Cardinals ranked a close second at .984; in the AL the White Sox and the Angels were tied at #2 with .985 each. You don’t get numbers like that without key defensive players like Houston’s prime Rookie of the Year candidate, center fielder Willy Taveras (.991 Fielding Percent), St. Louis’ center fielder Jim Edmonds (.994), Angels’ first baseman Darin Erstad (.997) and Chicago’s first baseman Paul Konerko (.996). Get ready to watch these teams flash some leather, folks.

Baserunning & Speed

These four teams also know how to run the bases & swipe a bag when needed. Of the four, only St. Louis posted fewer than 115 stolen bases for the season, and the Angels and White Sox came in with 161 and 137 respectively, thanks largely to Anaheim’s major league-leading Chone Figgins (62) and Chicago’s MLB #3, Scott Podsednik (59). Add to that some of the highest singles totals in the majors (Taveras at 152, the Cardinals’ Eckstien at 144, Figgins at 143), you got some speedy little dudes running their legs off. And that can mean a world of difference on the basepaths.

But baseball is about more than the numbers, of course. And no other time of the year is that truer than the postseason. So, without further ado we’ll move along to the human interest side of this fabulous new NY- and Boston-free world we find ourselves in and introduce to you…

The Characters

The Houston Astros

This is a team that’s never won a World Series. Heck, they’ve never even been to the World Series, and prior to this time last year, the closest they’d been is where the Yankees and Red Sox are right now. The Astros are team with two of the all-time greats of modern baseball – Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell – who pretty much are only missing a World Series victory from their fantastic careers. Both are likely bound for Cooperstown, but it would be so much better if they had that ring on their hands, too. Throw in hometown boys Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte toeing the rubber for the glory of Space City and yet another unlikely Wild Card season and you’ve got the makings of a bestseller.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Goofy name aside, this is a team you have to love. Sure, the Anaheim Angels (as they were known back then) won it all in 2002, but since then they’ve added some important members to the team who’ve never had the pleasure of an October crown – specifically, of course, I mean the magnificent Vladimir Guererro, who spent all those lost years (’96-’03) in poor, benighted Montréal. How wonderful it would be for him, and all the others, including Chone Figgins (who I think is the real AL MVP this year) and young Ervin Santana (the rookie pitcher who was the unquestioned hero of Game 5 of the ALDS), to win it this year, after fighting so hard to send the Yankees home nice and early.

The St. Louis Cardinals

For the past two years (at least) the St. Louis Cardinals have the best team in the big leagues. And they even went to the Series last year, though the lost badly. They’re managed by one of the most successful managers in all of baseball, Tony La Russa and are the second most World Series winning team in history. As if that weren’t enough, the Cardinals have one of the very few “once-in-a-lifetime” players of our times – first baseman and likely MVP Albert Pujols. And now they may get a chance to redeem themselves for their tragic performance in last year’s Series. It’s also a chance for La Russa to join only the legendary Sparky Anderson as managers who have lead their teams to a World Series championship in both the National League and the American League. Finally, a World Series victory would be the way to end the long and storied history of Busch Stadium, which will close its gates once and for all when the last Cardinals’ game of 2005 is played.

The Chicago White Sox

Ah, the Chicago White Sox. They haven’t won the World Series in 88 long years. They’re a team that many feel are still paying for the sins of their fathers – the 1919 Chicago Black Sox, who threw the World Series and brought shame to baseball for the first (but sadly not last) time. When you look at it, the 2005 White Sox are, frankly, a team seeking nothing less than redemption. And leading them ever onward is the one and only Ozzie Guillen, the mad iconoclast who isn’t afraid to speak his mind.

And that’s just a quick look at the cast. There are so many more people involved with these teams, from the front office to the bullpen catchers, from the ghosts of the past to the fans of the future. And, after all, baseball has always been about humanity.

Conclusion

So cheer up, Beaneaters and Bombers. Take some solace from the fact that you get to sit back and watch a couple of Championship series that should feature terrifically exciting pitching, defense, baserunning. Oh, and far more human interest than you might be used to from your steroid-fueled sluggers and your mythical curse. Or, if that doesn’t console you, at least know that by being the hell off of the October stage you’ve made it possible for the rest of the country to enjoy the postseason for a change.

Now, if only we can get rid of McCarver, Buck and Scooter the brushback pitch. Oh well, just wait til next year!

3 replies on “It’s Going To Be The Best Postseason Ever!”

I only voted because… I think it is a well written article with good detail. Although, I don’t agree this will be the best postseason ever.

comment I have to agree, I’d say that this will not be the best postseason EVER, but it will be a great one. I also think this was well-written…good job. My prediction: The Cardinals will BARELY beat the ‘Stros and the Angels (riding their motiviational ALDS win over the Yanks) will squeak it out in 5 over the Chisox. Here’s three reasons why the Cards will win the World Series in 5 games:

  1. Albert Pujols
  2. Chris Carpenter/Mark Mulder/Matt Morris/Jason Isringhausen
  3. Albert Pujols

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