Grand Slams: End(er’s) Game
St. Louis and Boston fans rejoice! Your teams have conquered their respective leagues and punched their tickets to the World Series. Fans of other teams (and small market clubs), get ready for a long winter. No, it wasn’t the Yankees or Dodgers in the World Series, but every round of the playoffs seemed to go the way of the bigger payroll. Pirates downed by Cardinals, A’s eliminated by Tigers, Rays pummeled by Sox, Braves crushed by Dodgers, etc. Money wins in this game, apparently. Which isn’t news, really, but it’s nice to see the little guy win occasionally. And the little guys did win in a way by making the playoffs.
But enough of my whining. Let’s look at what the off-season holds and what the World Series might look like.
The Cardinals look like they’ll probably get Allen Craig back, at least as a DH in Fenway. That’s nice for them. Craig is great with RISP and collects RBIs like Chuck Norris collects dumb jokes. He should provide a spark for a Cardinals offense that, while occasionally explosive, has been a bit underwhelming this postseason. Just like the Tigers, it’s hard to figure out where all the firepower went. But also like the Tigers, the Cardinals have great starting pitching. Where the Cardinals really surpass the Tigers is in the bullpen. So expect the Sox to have to put up with a little stiffer competition in this series (the Tigers bullpen did lose two games, after all, giving up a grand slam in each of those blown games).
The Red Sox are somehow a juggernaut just a season after being the biggest mess in sports. It’s peculiar, but I guess stranger things have happened. They steamrolled through the first two rounds, so I’m kinda hoping for a turnaround in the Fall Classic.
I’m gonna go against the grain and predict a Cardinals win in six or seven games. In a way, I’m rooting for a slightly smaller payroll with way more home-grown talent. Now I’m entirely aware most people see the Sox winning in about that many games. So that wouldn’t surprise me too much. What would really surprise me is a short series, like a sweep by either team or even just a five game set.
There are a lot of big-money free agents hitting the market this off-season. Robinson Cano, Brian McCann, Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ubaldo Jimenez, Tim Lincecum, and Matt Garza all get to seek their fortune this winter. [Lincecum re-signed with the Giants shortly after Seth handed in this article. -Ed.] Meanwhile, lots of foreign players are making their way over (or up) from Japan and the Caribbean to fetch big contracts. This is gonna be an interesting off-season, and even after the free agents are signed there’ll be trades, there’ll be news of A-Rod and his battle against MLB, and there’ll be high hopes for lots of up-and-coming clubs like the Pirates and Royals.
As always, I’ll be checking my phone every few minutes for the latest news so I can beat all two baseball-fan friends I have to the punch when the big news is handed down.