Monday, October 25, 2010

The Teams Most in Need of Divisional Realignment

To be clear, I mean in the sense of where they play geographically compared to their division name and other teams in the league, not in the sense of being overmatched like the Orioles in the AL East.

Columbus Blue Jackets; Western Conference, Central Division
The Jackets, like the next team, are in the Eastern Time Zone yet somehow in the Western Conference. Looking at the NHL team map, there's not necessarily a better place for them to go but it's a bit silly to be in the Western Conference.

Detroit Red Wings; Western Conference, Central Division
Again, Eastern Time Zone team in the West. I'd never say this Original Six team should move OR AM I? Wouldn't it be sweet to toss them in the Northeast and have them play three co-O6 teams? I think so.

Atlanta Thrashers: Eastern Conference, Southeast Division
Yeah they're in the southeastern part of America, but let's get real, they're also located to the west of both the above teams.

Dallas Cowboys; NFC East
C'mon son. The 'Boys aren't anywhere close to any of the other teams in their division and there are just SIX of 31 other NFL teams located to the west. This might be the most ridiculous of team/division alignments.

Indianapolis Colts; AFC South
I've been to Indy in January. The climate isn't southern, neither are the people. They like racing a ton so I guess that's why the NFL decided to put them in the South. Has to be it.

Baltimore Ravens; AFC Central
No way. The home city of Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell is on the Atlantic Ocean. Really, you're gonna tell me they belong in the Central?

Miami Dolphins; AFC East
Maybe I'm salty that my favorite team has to play the Jets and Pats four times this year. The Fins are without a doubt one of the most eastern teams in the league, but they are also over 200 miles south of anyone else. This is an easy fix. Switch them with the Colts and it all makes sense.

Oklahoma City Thunder; Western Conference, Northwest Division
Go there and tell an Okie they're from the North, I dare you. At least this one makes sense as the ThunDurants used to be in Seattle.

Memphis Grizzles; Western Conference, Southwest Division
I wish we could just abandon them altogether, but since we can't (yet), at least find somewhere better than where they're at now. Southeast makes more sense.

Phoenix Suns; Western Conference, Pacific Division
Just move them to San Diego and rename is the California Division. I mean, the other four teams are located in that state, so why not.

Toronto Blue Jays, AL East
Just quit playing baseball in Canada. Alternatively they could move to the NL Central and throw the Pirates in the AL East so the Yankees can have 18 free wins every year.

Texas Rangers, AL West
There isn't anywhere else to put them besides the West but I'll point out that the four closest teams to them, longitudally (is that a word?) are all in the Central.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Farewells to the Four Eliminated Playoff Baseball Teams

Minnesota Twins
You guys are like the easy girl in High School who just gets the train run on them by the starting five on the varsity BB team. It used to be "oh look at this scrappy, low-payroll team making a go against the Yankees." That got you out of the ALDS in four games usually. So this year you decided to spend some money (Capps, Fuentes, Mauer, Thome) and got swept for the second straight year. Basically you're the new A's but not as competitive and you spend more money. Morneau was hurt, but he wasn't going to go out and shut down the Yankee sluggers. Get a real ace and some reliable rotation guys to fall in behind him, then come talk to me.

Cincinnati Reds
Awww cute. You guys had a nice season, leading the NL in runs and defense. You even had a great story in Joey Votto (a Canadian by the way) having a break out year and catapulting to the top of the MVP race. It was an absolute crime he had to wait till the last ballot to make the All-Star Game. The least likely team that made the playoffs, considering your outlook in April, it really is impressive you held off the Cardinals all year. However, as evidenced by your 20-33 (now 20-36) record vs. teams with a winning record, you really aren't ready to play with the big boys once the weather gets cold. You had the first 45 minutes of the hour, but now it's time for the adults to swim, so thanks for getting out of the pool in time. It was nice of you to not even splash the parents on your way out. I can't remember a team being more overmatched in my baseball watching history.

Atlanta Braves
How does Bobby Cox get over getting kicked out of the playoffs in the first round? He punches his wife. The exact same way he celebrates an NL pennant, or winning the World Series, or missing the playoffs altogether. He's nothing if not consistent (and abusive). But seriously, way to have Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Steve Avery, John Smoltz, Kevin Millwood, Tim Hudson, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, David Justice, Terry Pendleton, Fred McGriff, Javy Lopez, Marquis Grissom, Andres Galarraga, Brian Jordan, Gary Sheffield, Vinny Castilla, Ron Gant and Otis Nixon at one point or another and win one World Series (against the Indians). Really though, this team becomes a lot more likable next year with Hanson, Heyward and McCann leading a crop of young, fun-to-watch guys. Just keep Brooks Conrad off the field.

Tampa Bay Rays
Say goodbye to Carl Crawford and Rafael Soriano. Wherever CC goes (Boston, NYC, LA), he'll finally get the chance to play in front of fans who care and become the superstar he should be. Oh wait, this is supposed to be a Dear John Letter to the team... Maybe you guys should have went for the Wild Card since you clearly can't do squat at home. David Price had a phenomenal season and should finish in the top five for Cy Young votes, but this is the playoffs. He'll be great for years, just not ready to be a true ace for a playoff team yet. Also, try getting people to come to the stadium before your players whine about having to play during the day when the Yankees play at night in the playoffs even though you won the AL East. Clearly you can't win at night, either. And good luck getting fans to come to the park next year without two stars and when people actually showed up you got outscored 16-2.

Bonus Goodbye
Bud Selig and the MLB Schedule-makers. Are you guys serious with TWO DAYS OF NO BASEBALL!? "We want to start the World Series on a Wednesday so we can have two weekend games and go against College Football and the NFL." Awesome idea guys, really sharp stuff. I can't wait till you're gone Selig. See, there's this crazy idea that the playoffs should be sort of similar to the regular season. You know the six previous months that you played to get to this point. But nahhh, that's dumb. Since the regular season ended, the Yankees will have played THREE GAMES in ELEVEN DAYS before they take the field in Texas. Compare that to the second half of the season when the club played 74 games in 80 days since the All-Star Break. Awesome. Sure the Yankees swept, but the Rangers will have played just five games in 11 days since they finished the season. Dumb.


Through the Divisional Series, here's a recap of my picks (correct team, correct number of games):

Yankees over Twins in 4
Rays over Rangers in 5
Phillies over Reds in 3
Giants over Braves in 3

Not bad, three out of four teams correct. Compared to ESPN's team of experts, only four of 27 got all four. Speaking of 27, that's how many championships the Yankees have right now, but not for much longer...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

2010 MLB Playoffs Preview/Predictions

I'll go opposite of typical preview articles here and just get down to business first. This way you can get my Division Series picks up front and scroll down if you want a break down.

Yankees over Twins in 4
Rays over Rangers in 5

Giants over Braves in 3
Phillies over Reds in 3

What the heck? Let's pick the next two rounds as well:

Yankees over Rays in 5

Phillies over Giants in 6

World Series
Yankees over Phillies in 6

Time to break. it. down. I don't see either NLDS matchup as very competitive. Admittedly, I watch very little of the older, but lesser, league and only feel threatened by the Phillies in a potential World Series matchup. The top three starters for the 2008 world champs/back-to-back NL pennant winners are just beastly. Roy O. is 7-1 since coming to Philly and you've seen what Hamels can do in the postseason. The interesting angle here will be Roy Halladay as he hasn't pitched in many meaningful games throughout his career. His work ethic is well documented and he terrifies me more than any other pitcher in the bigs when on the bump vs. the Yankees. I can see him coasting through his starts like Cliff Lee did for them last year. Unless Phillips/Votto/Cueto go off in front of an intense home crown in G3, I don't see this series ending in anything but a sweep.

The Giants Lincecum-Cain-Sanchez rotation slots in right behind the Phillies as the scariest in the playoffs. I love Tim Hudson but also remember him not doing much in the ALDS when the A's had their run. He's 1-3 all time in eight postseason starts, with none since 2005. Maybe East Coast Bias isn't real, I was under the impression that Kung Fu Panda was some awesome hitter, he had 13 HRs this year and batted just .268. Yeesh. Besides that, the Giants have good depth in the lineup and I see them getting just enough runs each game to run the Braves and Bobby Cox out of town.

The Yankees are the Twins' daddies. Though they sport a 9-2 record in the ALDS vs. Minny, as Derek Jeter said yesterday "The past has nothing to do with this year." Well, this year the Yankees are 4-2 with series wins at Target Field and Yankee Stadium. Those two New York losses were started by Sergio Mitre and Javier Vazquez, who might combine for one IP this series. CC and Andy should do what they did last year and because of the Yankees' three-man rotation, they'll pitch four of these games. If Carl Pavano wins a game in this series, I will light my television set on fire.

Rays and Rangers is the most intriguing matchup of the first round. The Rangers new emphasis on pitching put the club in a position to coast through the final month of the year without Josh Hamilton for most of it. They have so much pop between him, Vladamir Guerrero, Michael Young and Nelson Cruz and I love what the table setters are doing in Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus. Lee is a certifiable of an ace as anyone else in the playoffs and you figure he's getting two starts. I think C.J. Wilson is tired, so I'm not sure what to expect from him. The Rays have plus players everywhere but up the middle (save B.J. Upton) where they put John Jaso behind the plate and a double-play combination of Sean Rodriguez and Jason Bartlett. Price and Garza are a clear cut above Shields and Davis so you have to hope they can get the job done. I see this series as being the first DS to go five games since 2006.