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Soup of This Day #338: Part 1, You’ve Got Your Reservations Made

October 6, 2013

Miguel Cabrera
The Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, aka The Big Mig. Sure, in 2012 he was the 1st Triple Crown winner since the impossibly dreaming Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, but he’s got no beard – Photo: Keith Allison, 2013. Keith Allison is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

It’s October – The month when the effort put into 162 games of Major League Baseball (MLB) is distilled into as little as 9 complete innings of play-off ball. But while that truncated post-season fate will befall some, others will get more time in the stark glare of the park lights. For 1 team, the outfit that can collect 11 or 12 wins, that harsh light will become a glow that never fades – They will be the 2013 World Series Champions.

Here then is the 2013 Longworth72 MLB Postseason Preview – Episode 4: The American League (AL) Hope…

Now sure, my preseason predictions were a little off-base and loyal readers could be forgiven for thinking that my crystal ball has developed an unmanageable curve. I have however countered this by making my predictions after the postseason has started, thus enhancing my chances of being right this time.

So you can take my guess that the Texas Rangers will be eliminated in a 1 game tie-breaker by the Tampa Bay Rays as being right in this bat’s wheel-house. Also, if I say that I think that the Rays will beat the Cleveland Indians in an AL wild card match-up, then you can assume I’ve hit that 1 safely.

That leaves the AL Division series, with 2nd-seed Oakland hosting 3rd-seed Detroit and top-rated Boston welcoming the wild card Tampa Bay.

The former series is a hard 1 to call – For many the Oakland A’s will be a sentimental favourite – Those who watched the movie Moneyball will surely be rooting for Brad Pitt’s ragtag assemblage of discarded parts to win the last game of the season. Even some smart enough to work out that Brad Pitt is not the General Manager (GM) of the A’s (Jonah Hill is their sabermetrician though) will be hoping that the underdog gets up.

I’m not.

For sure, if the A’s do win through I’ll be happy for their real-life GM Billy Beane – He’s been a loyal servant of baseball and the A’s for a decent stretch now and off the top of my head I can’t think of a GM more deserving.

It’s just that they have Bartolo Colón as their ace and I don’t trust him or the pig who gave up body parts for him.

Actually, now that I think about it the pig is probably dead-set trustworthy.

Bartolo not so much though – He’s just returned from a 50-game suspension because of his involvement in the Biogenesis kerfuffle and that strikes me as far too short a penalty. If A-Rod gets 211 then Colón, instrumental in the A’s season thus far, should get a commensurate break from the game.

The good news is that I’m predicting that with Colón on the mound against Detroit’s Max Scherzer that the Tiges will inflict a karma-inspired loss on the A’s. I’m making this call in part based on Scherzer’s 21 and 3 record (as opposed to Colón’s 18 and 6) but mostly because the game has already happened and Detroit took it 3-2.

Which brings me to some in-depth analysis of the Detroit Tigers – The metaphorical and literal heavyweight contender from the AL Central. These guys are a big chance. A big, big chance.

Here’s why:


That fan is lucky Prince didn’t grab his arm instead. Detroit as a whole is lucky that Prince’s appetite is matched by his propensity for slugging.

Yep, the Detroit Tigers are all about big. Big bodies, Big Mig, big hits, big pitches and big bad, irascible Jim Leyland.

Ok, so Jim isn’t physically big but wow does he project his chicken-legged frame big-time. I reckon he’s the quintessential manager and amongst the big money names and superstars he is the genuine heart and soul of this Tigers outfit. And boy does the city of Detroit need some heart right now.

Detroit to take this series 3-1.

But who will they play for the AL pennant, the cocky upstart Rays or the wonderfully resurgent Red Sox?

Yeah, it’ll be the Red Sox. Sorry to just go out and announce that – I maybe should have built up the suspense a little. It’s just that there is this feeling behind the Sox, a sense of momentum rumbling along, and this is backed up by the numbers generated in an incredible year for the Fenway-based ball club:

For a start there’s the turn-around from 2012. Then, under Bobby Valentine, the Sox were insipid, finishing with a paltry 69 and 93 record – Their worst full-season result since 1965. In 2013 the Red Sox are helmed by John Farrell and he’s overseen a 97 and 65 triumph – Their best full-season result since 1978. That’s a 28 win upsize – The best such single-season turnaround for the Red Sox since 1946 and 8 wins better than that achieved by the 1967 Impossible Dream outfit.

All of this has been achieved with some canny trade business from GM Ben Cherington and a line-up that just delivers – The pitching has been solid, with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and John Lackey delivering on promise. Throw in the late-season acquisition of Jake Peavy and not too many opposition bats will be sleeping easy ahead of facing this rotation.

Meanwhile the bats have been nothing short of awesome – 8 Red Sox players crunched more than 10 home runs each in 2013 and another 2 had 9. They were ranked 1st in runs for the AL and 2nd in hits. They were only ranked 5th on home runs and maybe this disparity is symptomatic of a smarter Red Sox at bat than in 2012. This time around the roster has just shown more patience and a greater desire to work out runs rather than try and blast out of trouble.

This is the 6 Million Dollar Red Sox – They built them better… stronger… faster… boinginging – And they’re ready to answer the 6 Million Dollar question.

Don’t get me wrong – The Rays are not pushovers. True – They scraped into a tie-breaker against the Rangers and then limped up to Ohio for an eliminator against a surging Cleveland outfit.

They won both though and mostly on grit. The Rays are perennially punching above their weight, fielding a team whose success is hardly ever rewarded in St Petersburg, certainly not via increased attendance. Which is a shame of sorts – In David Price they have a starting ace capable of inflicting all sorts of pain and particularly against the Red Sox (He’s 6 and 1 with an ERA of 1.88 at Fenway). Meanwhile Matt Moore has had a stellar 17 and 3 year and Alex Cobb has been productive.

Where the Rays have struggled though is on offence – They rank 9th in hits and 10th in runs. Evan Longoria has been good with finding the other side of the fence but his team-leading 82 RBIs would see him ranked just 4th in the potent Red Sox line-up.

So I’m tipping the Sox to win this series 3-1, a prediction helped along by Game 1 at Fenway this morning.

Matt Moore did ok early and held the Rays up 2-0 until the bottom of the 4th. Then Will Myers horribly misplayed a David Ortiz fly ball and instead of a 2nd out with a runner on, the Red Sox rallied for 5 runs and a game-winning lead. The Rays couldn’t answer across the remaining 5 innings while the Sox padded out the victory 12-2. Significantly, every member of the Red Sox starting 9 hit safely and scored at least 1 run. 5 of those hits were doubles and none went yard. By contrast, for the Rays there were just 4 hits, none of which were doubles and 2 went long.

So the Red Sox will host the Tigers in the AL Championship Series. As to who will win that? Well, as emphasised the Tigers are a big-game team so you’d tip them to edge the Sox but for 1 key facet…

Facial hair.

The Red Sox have bigger beards. Playoff beards are an under-used marker for team performance and there is no contest between the Tiges and the Sox when it comes to that measure. The Red Sox to advance 4-2 to the World Series and a chance at scripting their own impossible dream.

Get beard. Win today. Let’s go Red Sox.

You’ve Got Your Reservations Made

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