October classic: Cubs vs. Angels

Andy Jobanek

Major League Baseball has never had a similar postseason to this one. The Tampa Bay Rays are in it for the first time in franchise history, the Milwaukee Brewers are in it for the first time in 26 years, and the Philadelphia Phillies have made it in back to back years for the first time in 27 years.

Here are my picks, round by round, of what will happen in the playoffs.

AL Divisional Series
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Chicago White Sox
The Tampa Bay Rays have been the most intriguing storyline this year outside of the Cubs. The White Sox stumbled out of the AL Central crawling to the finish line, and I don’t expect much from them. The Rays will drop a game due to their inexperience in the playoffs, but should win the series easily.
Pick: Tampa in 4 games

Los Angeles Angels vs. Boston Red Sox
The Los Angeles Angels come into the playoffs with the league’s best record, while Boston is the defending champion. The two might seem pretty even, but the Angels have beaten the Red Sox eight times out of the nine games they played against each other. The Angels also have the league’s best road record. I expect the postseason experience to favor the Red Sox in a couple of close games that they win, but the Red Sox have too many injuries to advance. Mike Lowell, David Ortiz and Josh Beckett are all nursing injuries, and Beckett’s is going to limit him to one start in the series.
Pick: Angels in 5 games

NL Divisional Series
Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Manny Ramirez has revitalized the Los Angeles Dodgers with a fantastic second half of the season, but I don’t think it’ll be enough for the Dodgers to advance past the Cubs, despite the questionable health of the Cubs’ starting pitchers Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden. I also think that the Cubs will learn from their embarrassing postseason experience last year when they were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Pick: Cubs in 4 games

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Philadelphia Phillies
C.C. Sabathia pitched three games in about a week. He deserves the National League Cy Young and possibly the MVP, but I think his arm will give out in the playoffs. If this series reaches a fifth game that Sabathia starts, then the Brewers could steal one, but I think the Phillies’ offense will punish a weak Brewer bullpen and a rotation that will probably not have Ben Sheets in the playoffs. This should be an easy win for the Phillies.
Pick: Phillies in 3 games

AL Championship Series
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have won their division four out of the last five years, but haven’t really done anything in the playoffs since their World Series win in 2002. You could say that they are the Seattle Seahawks of major league baseball, always winning a mediocre division and then floundering in the postseason. However, I expect their playoff experience to help them against a team that has no playoff experience at all. Up to this point, the Rays have been able to succeed without any big stars, but they’ll wish they had one when things start to go badly in this series. The Rays will challenge, but the Angels will win.
Pick: Angels in 6 games

NL Championship Series
Chicago Cubs vs. Philadelphia Phillies
The Cubs and the Phillies had minimal contact during the season, and the Cubs will make sure that they don’t play too many games against them in this series either. The Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908 and haven’t won a pennant since 1945. That will mean a lot of casual observers will jump on their bandwagon and celebrities will suddenly turn up to games, but in spite of all that, I’ll still root for them, and I think the extra motivation will sweep them into the World Series.
Pick: Cubs in 5 games

World Series
Los Angeles Angels vs. Chicago Cubs
The World Series will pit two managers that have both won a title as a player and a coach. As much as I’d love to see Sweet Lou lose his cool in one of the games and get ejected for digging up home plate or something like that, I think most of the excitement will come from the players. I expect the series to pit strength against strength with the Cubs’ pitching going against the Angels’ batting. However, the key to the series will be the consistency that the Angels had throughout the season which will help when the pressure is on and the Angels are able to keep their cool.
Pick: Angels in 7 games