As we put the 2011 season behind us, we know we have a month before we really want to start thinking about 2012. Because right now, we can watch baseball without thinking of anything except the games on the field. And if yesterday was any indication on how these playoffs would play out, you'd better stay tuned. Last night was probably the most exciting night of non-A's baseball I've ever experienced, and I already thought the playoffs would be awesome. With yesterday's dramatics ending all possibility of playoff games today, we have one day to get ready for the postseason. The AL teams play tomorrow, and everybody plays Saturday. Baseball, baseball, baseball, baseball, baseball.
First up, we have the Rays/Rangers tomorrow at 5:07PM (2:07 California time). Homefield advantage or not, Wild Card or not, would you want to be the team taking on the red-hot Rays after last night's seemingly miraculous comeback victory? I think not. The Rangers will have to ignore the intangibles and play the game they have all year. The Rangers will be throwing C.J. Wilson, who has had a great season, and is terrific at home. The Rays have not yet announced a starter; they just found out about their postseason appointment!
You would think that these teams have been patiently waiting for the playoffs to start, but don't forget that the Yankees were on the other end of Tampa Bay's epic comeback; I'm sure that's the last thing they wanted or needed on the last day of the season. On the bright side, they are "the AL team to beat". This game will start at 8:37 PM (5:37, California time) and will feature the AL Cy Young, Justin Verlander (24-5, 2.40) against the Yankees' CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.00).
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Well, the Cardinals may have won the Wild Card, vaulting over Atlanta to secure a postseason berth, but they find themselves up against the best team in the League, the Phillies. The Phillies will be throwing Halladay, and if you want my honest opinion, there is no better team in baseball. They are rock-solid on starting pitching, bullpen, and have an amazing 1-9 lineup. I don't think the Cardinals stand a chance, but stranger things have happened.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers
If you want to root for the former-A's connection (and you don't like Matt Holliday), take a look at Ziggy's team. Ziggy himself has been nearly unhittable in his brief NL stint, and he will have the first postseason appearance of his career. The Brewers will be throwing Gallardo; the Diamondbacks are yet undecided.
So...what do you think of the playoffs? Who are you rooting for? What are the keys to the series? Who will win? Make your predictions now!
We'll see you back tomorrow afternoon for PLAYOFFS!!!!! PLAYOFFS!!!!