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Posts Tagged ‘los angeles angels’

MLB Playoffs: Catch It!

Posted by AB on October 15, 2009

After 162 regular season games and a best-of-five divisional playoff series, the league championship series begin tonight.  The National League Championship Series will begin tonight, as the defending World Series Champion, Philadelphia Phillies, plays the Los Angeles Dodgers in Dodger Stadium.  The American League Championship Series will begin on Friday, in Yankee Stadium, as the New York Yankees host the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (does anyone call them that?).

These four teams are, in my opinion, the best four teams in baseball, and they have proven as much throughout the long regular season and subsequent divisional series.  If you were to ask knowledgable baseball people, most would say that the Yankees are the prohibitive favorites to win this year’s World Series.  

In the offseason, the Yankees added the top three free agents–C.C. Sebathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixiera–to a team with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, and Mariano Rivera.  They, by far, have the highest payroll of the four remaining teams, but money doesn’t buy championships.  They have the highest payroll every year, but have not won a World Series since 2000.  If the games were played on paper, the Yankees would be unstoppable.  Fortunately, for baseball fans, they are not played on paper.

The Angels last won the World Series in 2002.  They feature a well-balanced lineup, without the star power of the Yankees, but just as effective.  The Angels, however, are playing for so much more than the other teams.  The Angels have rallied around the spirit of a fallen teammate, Nick Adenhart.  A rookie starting pitcher, Adenhart was killed in a car accident, early in the season.  The Angels are the sentimental favorites, and they have all of the intangibles that the Yankees lack, which should make this an interesting and close series.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were the hottest team in baseball in the first half of the season, but became very inconsistent throughout the second half.  This is a team that can dominate at one stretch, and at other stretches, they are mediocre.  They have a strong lineup, one through nine, featuring Rafael Furcal, Orlando Hudson, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Andre Ethier, and Manny Ramirez.  The starting pitching is solid, but the Dodger bullpen can dominate.  If the Dodgers get hot, it will be difficult to stop them.

An equally impressive lineup belongs to the Philadelphia Phillies.  They are the defending champions, so they are the team that has proved most.  The Phillies know within themselves what it takes to win it all, and that is an important psychological advantage.  The Phillies, like the Dodgers, have gone through hot and cold stretches throughout the season.  Their lineup includes Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jason Werth, and Raul Ibanez.  Before the trade deadline, the Phillies acquired Cy Young Award winner, Cliff Lee, to pair with last year’s World Series MVP, Cole Hamels.  The Phillies’ fortunes could land at the feet of closer, Brad Lidge.  He struggled more than ever this year, but seemed to have regained his dominance in the divisional series. 

Both series should be more than entertaining, and I am hoping for an all-L.A. World Series.  I’m pulling for the Dodgers and Angels, not because “I Love L.A.,” but because I do not like the Phillies and the Yankees.  But, overall, I am pulling for the Angels to win it all.  I like the way that they play, and I’m always a sucker for the team who plays for a higher, more sentimental cause.  In this case, it is Nick Adenhart.  Wouldn’t it be great for his teammates to honor his spirit by delivering a World Series ring to Adenhart’s family?  I think so.  Go Angels!


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