Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Elgin Baylor x Sports Guy x LCS Preview

Before I get into it today, I wanted to highlight yet another good article by Bill Simmons on Elgin Baylor. The plight of black athletes during the Jim Crow era has always been fascinating, along with the development of the modern pro sports system and the role various players had in creating the big bucks for everyone scenario we have today.

I was totally oblivious to the real Elgin Baylor story, but now I know and now I won't look at him as that horrible Clippers GM that played back in the day. It was also a good juxtaposition to the asskicking Obama put on McCain, moving us closer to our first black president.

I think that African-American History is taught horribly in this country in general, and it’s so easy to forget how bad things once were. We’re at the point now where when something racist happens, we’re almost surprised. It used to be the norm. Heck, in some places it still is. Anyways, I can talk forever about this subject, but this is a sports blog not a sociology or history blog. Just read the damn article.

Today, I’m going to talk about the upcoming LCS’s in Major League Baseball. This season was a pretty damn good one, but the playoffs have been fairly lackluster. Just several beatdowns going on throughout the opening round, except for the Boston-Anaheim (via LA?) series, which was marred by errors and overmanagement by the Halos.

Now we have the Phillies and Dodgers squaring off in the NL and the Sox and Rays squaring off in the AL. Before the season, this would have been one of the most unlikely pairings. During the season, it was clear that the Rays and Sox were two of the best teams in the AL. In the NL, Philly and LA didn’t distinguish themselves as playoff teams until September, behind the bats of sluggers Ryan Howard and Manny Ramirez.

In the past, I would do a tale of the tape on each, but quite frankly I’m not too confident in what’s going to happen. In both series, there’s a “what should happen,” “what I want to happen,” and “what will probably happen/what the MLB wants to happen.”

Here’s what should happen:

The Phillies have and have had the most potent offense in the NL throughout the season. Their pitching has been up and down, but down the stretch Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer were solid. Their bullpen is stellar, as Brad Lidge’s comeback has been well documented.

The Phillies have had a championship offense for years, but now they seem to have the pitching behind them as well.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers had a weird mix of youth and experience on the mound and in the field. They have Joe Torre guiding the ship, but you would think the team that has been together for so long would ultimately pull it out against the upstart ball club.

What I want to happen:

I want the Phillies to win. I went to school there for five years and Philly really, really needs a winner.

What Will Probably Happen:

Manny will hit like 4 HR’s and drive in a crap load of runs, Brad Lidge will finally self-destruct, and Ryan Howard will hit .125 with one meaningless HR in a 12-2 Dodgers rout, and LA will win in 5 or 6 games.

What should happen:

In the AL, the Rays went from worst to first, and won the AL East. The Red Sox finished right behind them, and probably would have won the division if they didn’t have the injuries. Even going into the playoffs, I’d probably have picked the Rays to win the AL.

However, after watching the Sox, they are in championship mode. All of the bounces are going their way, their big names are stepping up and their no-names are coming through in the clutch.

What I want to happen:

I want the Rays to win. My disdain for the Sox is out there, I hate them and pretty much every Boston team. Nothing personal, but the ubiquitous coverage coupled with the jerks that many of these teams employ (Schilling, Youkilis, Vrabel, etc.) makes me and several others hate them.

The Rays are young and exciting. They have a cool manager and you want to pull for them anyway because of their losing history. And one of their best players, B.J. Upton, is a Tidewater native who was tearing it up at Greenbrier Christian around the time that I was playing baseball at I.C. Norcom High School.

What will probably happen:

The Sox will win, Pedroia will win MVP, Manny will get bashed, Epstein will get sucked off by the media, the LA/Boston rivalry will get run into the ground, etc.

If we can’t get a Phillies/Rays series, lets hope that Manny returns ‘home’ to Boston to bite them in the ass.

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