COLUMN: Breaking down baseball’s postseason: Expect a subway series rematch

By Frank Vanderwall

In the last two weeks the Cardinals tried to pull off the worst regular season choke in sports history by blowing a seven game lead with twelve games to play and the Tigers watched their once insurmountable division lead wither away to nothing. The Cardinals were saved Sunday when Houston eliminated themselves with a 3-1 loss to the Braves. The Tigers didn’t fare so well however, as they were passed by the Twins and will now face the dreaded Yankees in the first round.

For what it’s worth, here’s how I think the playoffs are going to break down now that we know who is in. It should be a great postseason, so don’t miss it.

In the opening round Oakland will be at Minnesota, Detroit is at the Yankees, the Dodgers at the Mets, and the Cardinals at the Padres. Each series will be a best-of-five with the winner advancing to their respective league championship series.

I believe the keys to the first round games will be starting pitching and home field advantage. The Tigers dug their own grave by losing the AL Central and will now meet the Yankees. Detroit was good in the regular season, but they simply don’t have enough pitching to take on the Yankees lineup. I don’t think the Tigers will win a game in this series: Yankees in three.

The Oakland-Minnesota series should be a little bit more competitive because they are such similar teams, except for Johan Santana. Look for the Twins to come out on top with home field advantage and the best home field record during the regular season. Santana wins two games in the series and the Twins take it three games to two.

The Dodgers-Mets series shouldn’t have been very close, but with the Mets loss of Pedro Martinez and the Dodgers recent record of late-inning heroics, I think it’ll be a tight series. Nonetheless, I’ll take the Mets in four.

Finally, the Cardinals and the Padres. I’m not going to lie, I really want to take the Padres here because the Cardinals backed into the playoffs and I like San Diego’s pitching, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. The Cards have too much experience and despite a shaky closer situation, too much pitching. Carpenter wins two games, including a complete game shutout. Cardinals win in five.

Now for the really exciting games, not that the first round won’t be – but this year’s league championships could be the best in a while. In the AL I’m seeing a memorable Yankees-Twins matchup that is going to come down to game seven. I think the Yanks and the Twins will win all of their home games in this series and Chien-Ming Wang will show that he is for real, playoff style. The Yankees advance to the World Series after a thrilling game seven.

In the NL the Cards will take on the Mets. These two teams are probably the best in the NL, so it is a fitting matchup. In my opinion however, the Mets are a much better team – even without Pedro. I was going to go with another seven game series but I really think that Cardinal bullpen is going to blow one of the games they should win. The Mets are just too strong up and down the lineup; Mets in six.

Now for the World Series matchup no one wants to hear, but should be one to remember; a repeat of the subway series of 2000: Mets and Yankees.

I think the 2006 rendition should be a little more entertaining as the Mets should put up a better fight than the loss in five games they took back in 2000. I still just can’t get over that Yankee lineup though. The team has a .382 overall on base percentage, and the Mets’ ace is out. That’s not going to go well.

The Mets will take a thriller in game one at Yankee Stadium and it might look like they have a shot, but the patience of the Yankee lineup will catch up to them in the end. The Mets bullpen is going to get tired and Tom Glavine and Steve Trachsel are finally going to look as old as they are. The Yankees win games two through four, then game six to win their first World Series since 2000. Bobby Abreu takes the MVP of the series and Steinbrenner buys himself another very expensive trophy.

Frank Vanderwall is a senior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected]