RESERVATIONS FOR SIX: Yankees lead playoff charge
With the Astros mired in yet another disappointing season and the Cougars football team ruling local talk radio waves, fans may have forgotten that Major League Baseball’s playoffs are right around the corner.’
Only eight teams make the postseason and games can be decided by one pitch, making this time of year especially exciting.
The New York Yankees, owners of the best record in baseball, have a stranglehold on the American League half of the World Series bracket. Their penchant for outspending the competition may finally produce their first World Series Championship since 2000, when they beat the New York Mets.
The biggest difference between this Yankees team and those of the past is the quality of players acquired before the season.’
Pitchers CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte give the Yankees a formidable rotation with an abundance of postseason experience. The playoffs are all about pitching, and when teams can trot out three aces their chances are that much better, especially in a best-of-five opening-round series.’
The Yankees also signed switch-hitting slugger Mark Teixeira, who also has lived up to his billing with 38 homeruns and 120 RBIs entering Tuesday.’
Ultimately these newcomers are complimentary to players like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, who are all having solid seasons.’
If Alex Rodriguez can bring his regular season success to the playoffs, the Yankees should be fine. ‘
Who the Yankees will face in the World Series is less of a sure thing. Of the current division and wild card leaders ‘- the Cardinals, Dodgers, Phillies and Rockies ‘- the Cardinals may have the best chance of winning the National League.’
The Cardinals have the best player in baseball, Albert Pujols, on their team, which is quite an advantage. Pujols has had a stellar season ‘- .328 batting average, 47 home runs and 132 RBI entering Tuesday ‘- but one player cannot win a game alone, much less a series.’
The Cardinals’ edge over the Phillies and Dodgers comes in the form of their three-headed pitching monster, of which each member has at least 15 wins.’
Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Joel Pineiro are all hitting their strides after successful regular seasons.’
With 19 wins, Wainwright could steal the NL CY Young Award, edging out teammate and 2005 winner Carpenter. Neither will care much about a personal award should the team win the Fall Classic.
All things considered, the Yankees still seem like the team to beat, and should win their 27th World Series title in six games over any National League foe. Then the rest of the country can go back to calling for a salary cap, restoring normalcy to the baseball world.