Dodgers-Cubs. Last year I picked the Cubs over the Diamondbacks. Cub fans, like The Beach Bum, may be worried that I might pick their team again. I like Lou Piniella and I think he's done a great job. His team is not going to choke despite all the expectations heaped on them by victory-starved Cub fans. But I like Joe Torre, too. I liked him even when he was the manager of the hated Yankees. And the Dodgers are coming in hot.
The good news is I think a City series is possible this year. The bad news is that I'm afraid it will be Dodgers-Angels. I'll pick the Dodgers over the Cubs. But there will be no sweep. Not this year.
Phillies-Brewers. The Phillies don't have Aaron Rowand anymore, but they do have former White Sox second baseman Tadahito Iguchi (although he's not on the playoff roster). Reliever Scott Eyre had a stint with the Sox, but more recently with the Cubs. The Phillies also have Ryan Howard and the venerable Jamie Moyer. New Milwaukee manager Dale Sveum was briefly with the White Sox (in 1992). Other ex-Sox on the Brew Crew are Mike Cameron and Ray Durham. And the Brewers have C.C. Sabathia, who I'm so glad was moved out of Cleveland earlier this year. I'm rooting for the Brewers over the Phillies here.
For my money, the Angels-Red Sox series will probably be the best series there will be this year. Whoever emerges from this one should be the heavy favorite to win the World Series. Last year, when these same two teams met in the post-season, I picked the Angels. The Red Sox won.
I would like to see the Red Sox play the Dodgers in the World Series -- just so I can see the Red Sox pitchers throw directly at Manny Ramirez each and every time he comes up to the plate. He should not need to bring a bat up with him. Let Manny be Manny -- but on the ground, please. But I am picking the Angels again.
White Sox-Rays. My beloved White Sox against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Miracle Rays. Fundamentalists are thrilled that they dropped the appellation "Devil Rays" in favor of, simply, "Rays" and jumped from last to first. They whupped the White Sox consistently this year. They played the Cubs in interleague play, too. They swept them, as I recall.
The White Sox play terribly in domed stadiums. Tampa plays in a domed stadium -- the same one into which the White Sox threatened to move some years back in order to
The White Sox have one chance: Tampa may fall victim to "Happy to Be Here Syndrome." This may be what the Cubs suffered from last year. Still, I'll pick the Sox. Because, apparently, on some level, I like getting my heart ripped out. The smart money, however, should go with Tampa.