View from the Cheap Seats is kind of an extension of the newsroom. Whenever our three regular reporters, Calvin Daniels, Thom Barker and Kelly Friesen are in the building together, it is frequently a site of heated debate.
Topics covered range from sports to politics to pop culture to whatever piques their interests. This week: Who will make it to and win the World Series?
Two teams made it into the MLB postseason based solely on their hot play coming down the stretch. And even though neither Pittsburgh nor Los Angeles managed to garner home field advantage in their divisional series, I had to pick both to move on.
LA, of course, was the hottest team in baseball going into the NLDS while Pittsburgh had to get by Cincinnati in the wildcard game.
Just as an aside, this extra level of playoff baseball is the stupidest thing MLB has done in a long time. The playoff structure was already perfect. But, if you’re going to add another level, a single game is just ridiculous; it should be at the very least a best-of-three.
That NL wildcard, the first postseason game in the steel city since 1992, convinced me that, as pesky as St. Louis can be, particularly in the playoffs, the bucs were going to take the series in four.
Since this was written before the divisional series started, Pittsburgh might be out as of today, which doesn’t really matter since neither is getting by the Dodgers in the third round.
The American League was a little trickier. I’m not sure why so many people favoured Detroit over Oakland. At best, I thought it was a toss-up, but I had to give an edge to the Athletics, particularly in the pitching department.
Again, it doesn’t matter who is left because they will be facing Boston (no question) and they will not be getting any further.
As hot as Los Angeles is, the Bosox are the real deal, the best team in baseball and, by virtue of the AL win in the All-Star game, will carry the Fenway advantage right to the end.
Red Sox over the Dodgers in seven games for their third championship in the last nine years and as close to a dynasty as any team has built in the modern era.
If it’s anybody else representing the NL, make that five games because, even though they got by LA, they surely got beaten up doing it.
Earlier in the year, picking the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the World Series would have been going against the grain. The Bovada Sports Book did after all give them 22-1 odds to win it on July 1.
However, since winning 53 of 66 games around the midseason point, they have become the odds-on favourites to the majority of baseball fans. So I’m not exactly taking a huge gamble in my prediction.
Ultimately, the Dodgers are a safe pick because they are quite likely the most balanced team in the playoffs.
It all starts with their pitching staff. Their double threat of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke is tough to beat to say the least. Going up against Kershaw and Greinke twice in a series could seal their opponent’s fate. Not to mention, Hyun-Jin Ryu has thrived in his rookie season as a dominant third, having an ERA of 3.00.
On offence, Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez make up a strong top four. Their talent doesn’t, however, stop there with the likes of Andre Ethier and Mark Ellis also being productive at bat.
Los Angeles also has one of the highest payrolls in the league, which is a testament to their surplus of high-end talent; however, the New York Yankees have proven that doesn’t mean too much in the second season.
Long Shots Matchup
Ah ‘tis October, a time of falling leaves, grinning pumpkins and baseball playoffs.
Even growing up in Canada, a hockey-centric land to be sure, I have gravitated toward baseball.
There is just something about the one-on-one battles within a team concept, coupled with the near mystical design of the game, where each play at first is close, each steal attempt holding the possibility of success or failure with the time it takes to blink, which has had me loving the game for decades.
This year started with the dream that the Toronto Blue Jays were back on the cusp of playoff relevancy, but that turned to massive failure within weeks (but that’s a sad rant for another day).
While the Jays are out, eight teams are still in the hunt.
As I wrote this the day the league semi-finals started the popular choices as World Series finalists were the Los Angeles Dodgers coming out of the National League, to face the American League’s Boston Red Sox.
I am sure the powers-that-be in baseball want that final, two major markets would mean boffo box office, but the likelihood of the two-favoured teams both making it is unlikely.
Of the two the Dodgers are in toughest.
The Atlanta Braves, a team with a history of under-achieving in the playoffs, this year are not on anyone’s radar, so they could surprise.
A bit reliant on home runs for offence, the Braves have a killer bullpen, and that can be a difference maker.
Still the Dodgers should make the league championship, facing St. Louis.
I’ll add local fans should be cheering for the Braves since shortstop Andrelton Simmons played summer ball here with our local Cardinals a few summers ago.
I really want Pittsburgh to come out of the NL, but I can’t come up with a scenario that gets the Pirates past the experience-laden Cardinals.
Once the Cardinals get on a roll defeating the Pirates, they’ll use that momentum to get past a Dodger team which needs a bit of playoff experience/adversity to get to the next level.
In the American League Boston may not get past Tampa either. The Rays have Joe Maddon, the best manager in the game, a talented pitching staff, and players who perform in key situations.
On the other side the starting pitching of Detroit and Oakland will create a low-scoring series, where bullpens will be crucial. The A’s have the edge in the bullpen, but Tiger bats win out, unless Miguel Cabrera is hurting enough to be completely ineffective. That would hamstring the Tiger offence.
The Tiger bats and starting pitching will make it tough in the ALCS, but I like the Rays once they get on a role with Maddon at the controls.
So there you have it, St. Louis and Tampa Bay in the World Series, with the Rays taking the glass slipper in six.