Matt Welch's are here.
Two things I do not want to see this year:
1) The Cubs winning the World Series. On this, I'm actually torn. I'm not sure if I'd just rather see the Cubs just get blitzed in the first three games, or whether I'd like to see them get to game seven of the World Series and lose in the most excruciating way possible. Probably the former, since I'd rather not take my chance on the latter. But I really hate the Cubs, even more than I hate the Dodgers, which is why I'd prefer to see the Dodger win that series.
2) The Angels playing the White Sox and/or the Cubs. This seems counter intuitive. I should want the Angels to play in Chicago so I can get to a game. Problem is, that's not happening. I love the Angels, and I spend about $500 hundred dollars per year on the Angels between tickets, and the packages on cable and internet. I'm probably not going to shell out $500 more for a ticket to see them play the White Sox, and I'm not shelling out roughly five times that to see them play the Cubs at what is basically nothing but a glorified high school park. Don't get me wrong, if someone dropped a free ticket on me, or even one at face value, I'd probably take it, but that's not likely to happen. Second, I have to live with these people, and I don't want to do that if the Angels lose to either of those teams. Of course, it would be sweet if the Angels took one, or even both, down, but I don't want to take that chance.
Anyway, here goes:
Phillies over Brewers in 4. I just don't think the Brewers have it. They haven't played well down the stretch. Although the teams finished just two games apart, the Phillies won the division in the final month, going 17-7 in September to best the Mets. the Brewers, on the other hand, had a 5.5 game lead for the wild card at the beginning of September, and only a Mets collapse landed them in the post season. This is all despite CC Sabbathia blistering the NL over the last few months. I think that right now the Phillies are the better team, and that will show.
Dodgers over Cubs in 4. The Cubs were a superior team over the whole season, but since the Manny Ramirez trade, the Dodgers have been pretty close (45-34 against 47-30). This just strikes me as an upset waiting to happen, and not because of any Cubs curse. Even though the Cubs handled both teams during the regular season, there was more fear out here over a possible match up with the Diamond Backs. When you're somewhat relieved to draw a particular opponent, karma says you lose that series. So I'm going with the team that Cubs fans* wanted to play.
*Note: Actually a rare species. This town is stupid with Wrigley fans, but actual true Cubs fans are quite rare.
Rays in 4. Tampa Bay has been proving everyone wrong all year. The fact is that they're a very good team, with an excellent manager. They prevent runs better than any of the playoff teams, and they have a competent offense. The White Sox have the benefit of experience (overrated in my opinion) and having dealt with pressure for the last couple weeks, which I actually think does help a bit. I think the Sox will take a game, but the Rays are going to prove to be too good. And honestly, don't let anyone push the "lack of post season experience" argument. Going into the playoffs in 2002, the Angels had one guy with post season experience. After game one, they had 25 guys with post season experience.
Angels in 5. I don't think the fact that the Angels hammered the Sox in the regular season is important on the field. I do think it's important in the minds of the Angels. The Sox won the season series in both 2004 and 2007, and killed the Angels in the playoffs. The Sox had that "team we can't beat" aura. That aura is gone now. The playoffs aren't that different from the regular season, and I think this Angels team believes it can win, and that's the first step. I also think Teixeira adds that extra bat that they've needed. In the past, if you controlled Vlad, you won the series. That may not be true this year. The Angels exorcise some demons in game five.
Phillies over Dodgers in 6.
Again, this is a gut level pick. Sabbathia grabs a lot of headlines, and the fact that the Brewers haven't been the playoffs in 26 years will get some ink. The vast majority of the public will be talking about the Cubs and Dodgers, and they'll be slobbering over the team that wins that series. Meanwhile, the Phillies will go about their business and just win. They just strike me as that team that no one is paying a lot of attention to, and teams like that seem to win for some reason.
Angels over Rays in 6.
The only bad thing about playing the Rays is that series like these tend to make me hate the opposing team, and I really don't want to hate Tampa. I like their players. I love their manager. I want to be able to root for them in the World Series should they get there. On the field, Tampa was the only team with a winning record over the Angels this year, so that's a point in their favor. But they aren't a great road team, and I think the first two games in Anaheim will put them behind the 8-ball. The Angels, and excellent road team will go back to Tampa and steal one in the dome before closing them out in game six back on their home field. The biggest advantage the Angels will get from home field isn't the privilege of hosting a potential game seven. It's getting two host the first two games, and Tampa will fight valiantly, but won't recover.
Angels over Phillies in Six.
This plays out the same way as the Tampa series. Win two at home. Steal one on the road. Close them out in game six as Ervin Santana, the Angels best starter all year, closes the door on Philadelphia. His fly ball tendencies won't play well at Citizens Bank Park, which is why a game two start will be perfect. Everyone will be denied the Cubs - Red Sox series they so desperately want. This will be a good, but not classic series. Frankie Rodgriguez gets the save in possibly his last game as Angel, finishing his Angel career the way we started it, with a World Series ring.
I'll admit to being a homer. I can't pick against the Angels, but I realize it will be a tough slog to a championship.