Playoffs?? Playoffs??

Well, we're a little more than a month away from the time when 8 teams will be in, and 22-- including our beloved boys-- will be out. For some reason i find myself more fascinated by the possible matchups this year than in the past couple-- is it the Angels' offensive revival? A group of NL teams that I find myself liking a lot? New York putting Boston back into its more historic place? Who knows?

But take your shot-- not only as to how the races will play out, but then the four matchups-- and beyond-- in October. Here's one man's opinion.

1. The only true NL race-- the WC-- will go to the Rockies. 666 ball over three months time-- week in and week out-- is simply too much evidence to discount. I suspect that they may put a real scare into the Angeleno NL West entry after the next few days;

2. The only good AL race-- the WC-- will go to Tampa. I simply think the Sox are wearing down, and that Texas will fall a bit short, and that the youthful Rays have one more strong run in them with the likes of Price and Longoria leading the way.

3. The bad AL race-- the Central-- will be "put on the board" on the South SIde for the simple fact that no one else in that division is any good, so why not? With Quentin back their lineup should be enough to carry them through.

4. The probable 1st round NL matchups-- Colo-Philly and SL-LA-- could both be epic 7 game series full of star performers, top notch pitching, and real managerial intrigue. I like the Cardinals a lot, and the Phillies too, though if there is aa big upset again I see the Rockies. And then the NLCS may come down to how Carpenter and Lee are used-- and if they face each other who has the better couple of games. But what a series it would be, and I suspect Dodgers-Phils wouldn't be bad either.

5. Who might get enough pitching to shut down the explosive AL offenses, partic. in NY and Disneyland? Well again if I am right about the Rays, maybe them. I expect Price to finish strong after a disappointing rookie campaign. But if chalk prevails and it is a LAA-NYY series (and wouldn't it be wild to see the BB play two LA-NY series back to back) for the pennant, I see Scioscia and Co. pulling it off-- somehow someway. Their closer isn't as good; nor is the rest of the bullpen; and neither is their ace. So what-- they hit the bejeesus out of the ball and have a knack for playing the game.

6. But the Phila-SL winner wins the whole thing. Unless Lidge never gets his act together. But whether it's Lee and Hamels backed up by Utley-Howard-Wirth-Ibanez or Carpenter and Wainwright backed up by Pujols and Holliday, I like the NL teams in short series.

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