Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category
George Jones: MLB Playoff Preview
[Note: This column was written before the playoffs began. By the time you read this, the predictions contained within may be downright laughable.]
For 22 MLB teams, it’s wait ‘til next year (for teams like the Nationals, Royals, and Pirates, it’s wait ‘til next 10 years). For the other eight, though, it’s time to play on and determine who will be this year’s world champion.
New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins
The Yankees clearly have baseball’s best offense. Consider this: shortstop Derek Jeter, having one of the best seasons of his career, is eighth on the team in home runs, with 18. The offense was helped a bit by their new offense-heavy ballpark. This, though, makes their pitching stats more impressive.
The Twins have a good offense and a mediocre pitching staff, though the team’s strength is their bullpen, led by closer Joe Nathan.
Not only do the Yankees have the best offense in the league going against a mediocre pitching staff, but the Twigers start the series immediately after defeating the Twigers in a one-game playoff on Tuesday. If this doesn’t scream “quick and painless” to you, nothing will.
Prediction: Yankees in 3.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Boston Red Sox
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Orange County of California of the United States have one of the best offenses in the league, helped out by breakthrough seasons from 26-year-old Cuban first baseman Kendry Morales and 25-year-old shortstop Erick Aybar. Their pitching, great in the past, has fallen a bit.
The Red Sox also have a great offense, led by outfielders Jason Bay and J.D. Drew, and first baseman Kevin Youkilis, and their pitching, with aces Josh Beckett and Jon Lester and a standout bullpen, is not far behind.
Although the Red Sox lost four of nine to the Angels this season, they are statistically the better team. In the end, Boston’s pitching will make the difference, as they have the ability to strike out enough batters to slow down the Angels offense
Prediction: Red Sox in 5
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The Dodgers recovered from the loss of outfielder Manny Ramirez to a 50-game steroid suspension to win the NL West division, while the Cardinals cruised to the Central Division title on the strength of their pitching. The Dodgers, though, are slightly better than the Cardinals in every position (first base excepted), especially their bullpen.
Prediction: Dodgers in 4.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Colorado Rockies
This is by far the most evenly-matched Divisional Series, with two great offenses and two good pitching staffs. The difference will be the Phillies’ mediocre bullpen, led by closer Brad Lidge and his 7.21 ERA.
Prediction: Rockies in five
Who will then advance to and win the World Series?
A Yankees-Red Sox series would be very evenly matched (great offense vs. great pitching and good offense vs. good pitching). Home-field advantage will make the difference: Yankees in 7.
The Dodgers went 14-4 against the Rockies in the regular season, and that won’t change in the playoffs: Dodgers in 6.
The World Series is where the Dodgers’ overworked bullpen (they lead the majors in relief innings pitched) will finally implode, and the series itself will look closer than it is. Yankees in 6.
Some thoughts on football’s season opener, a 33-21 win over Kenyon
1. Case football is getting a lot of attention from local media. Plain Dealer columnist Terry Pluto had a column on the Spartans last Friday. The PD also ran a quick preview of the Kenyon game. On Saturday, the News Herald’s head prep writer, Bill Tilton, the PD’s Norm Weber and a local blogger were covering the game. A Buffalo Bills scout was in attendance. Here’s a link to my favorite non-Observer season preview.
2. The busy press box was a far cry what you’d see on Saturdays when I first started as sports editor: a couple people doing stats, overflow from the President’s Suite, the athletic director and a coach or two. And now, a security guard is at the press box’s entrance checking names off a list.
3. The stands were pretty full too. So it’s not just local media that’s paying attention; students are too (gasp).
4. Standard Parking raised the price to park in the Village parking garage from $5 to $6 on gameday. The athletic department doesn’t see any of the parking money.
5. Yes they won by twelve points and yes Kenyon looked better than they have in years past, but I doubt the Spartans were very happy with how they played. Case was in the red zone a few times without scoring because of some uncharacteristically sloppy play. Look for that to change this week at Rochester.
6. Sports Information Director Creg Jantz has been smart in how he’s promoted the team. His pregame notes highlight what players from the Cleveland area have been doing, which naturally appeals to local media. In some cases, they’ve been following these players, like Dan Whalen and Tim Cowdrick since they were in high school.