Thus far the playoffs have been going more or less according to form. Only the Astros-Braves series has surprised me. It appeared the Braves lack of starting pitching, healthy and otherwise, would doom them and that the Astros overall balance would rather easily carry them through the first round. Houston may still advance, but in the process of being stretched a full five-games, their pitching rotation will not be set up in the best position to take on the Cardinals. The NLCS starts Wednesday night in St. Louis, which means neither RogerClemens, who pitched Sunday, nor Roy Oswalt, who goes today, would be available.
Over in the American League, to hear the pundits tell it, a rematch between Pedro and his "daddy" was pre-ordained by the baseball gods. Lucky us. One thing is certain: the people televising this latest Yankees-Red Sox grudge match are going to get a lot more money for a 30-second spot than they would have had Anaheim taken on Minnesota.
There are plenty of subplots in the ALCS besides Pedro and his psyche. For one thing, Mike Mussina may be facing his last opportunity to come through in the clutch. And while Alex Rodriguez should have many more years to endure the collective enmity of Beantown’s faithful, the cast of supporting characters around him is aging fast. Bernie Williams, Ruben Sierra, Kevin Brown, Kenny Lofton, El Duque, Mussina, and John Olerud haven’t got many more years (or games) left. More than a few of them are not likely to be back next year.
By comparison Boston is considerably younger though most of their key players are in their ‘30’s. Schilling, at 37, is the oldest starter other than 38-year old Tim Wakefield, who as a knuckler should easily last another 20 years.
Predictions: Houston will beat Atlanta but lose to the Cardinals in six games. Boston will beat the Yankees handily. I will have more to say about the Series prior to its opener.