I nailed a couple of those LDS series. I had the Rays in 4, and the Phillies in 4 (though that series wasn't as tough as I thought it would be). I had the correct number of games in the Dodgers-Cubs series, but I don't think that's a major loss, because did anyone think the Dodgers would sweep the Cubs? And I messed up on the Red Sox...but I'm picking against them again. Here we go:
NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
I can't believe the freakin' Phillies are going to the World Series. But here we are.
I just don't think the Dodgers match up well enough with Philadelphia. (Although, of course, I didn't think they matched up too well with the Cubs, either.)
Manny Ramirez will have a huge series - he'll eat up Citizens Bank Park - but overall the Phillies have better pitching, and when you get to this point of the season, that's what it's all about.
I'm cautious about Brad Lidge - yes, he had an extraordinary regular season, and he has shown zero indication that he is getting tired or will be any less automatic in the post-season....but this is still the guy who disaster befell this time of year in 2005. I just don't think that goes away.
Still, the Phillies survive. They do better than survive. Phillies in five.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
The ALCS is going to be where you get the bang for your buck. I hope I'm not building up this series too much - but I think it will be great.
Again, I don't love that I'm picking against Boston - they have shown time and time again that they know how to win in October...but I just didn't see it happening for them this year, and I'm having a hard time picturing them repeating as champions. (Not quite as hard a time as Tampa Bay winning it all...but there is no other option.)
That reasoning is lame, but there is some evidence to support my cause:
The Rays always give the Red Sox fits. Even when they were awful, they played the Red Sox tooth and nail (what does that mean?) and even when they were beaten it wasn't an easy win for Boston. They continued to play the Sox tough this year, when they were good, and won the season series, 10-8.
Home field was huge throughout the year between these two teams as well, and the Rays earned home field advantage, and that could be the difference. (I think I saw, and am too lazy to look it up and make sure I'm right, that the home team in the series won 15 of the 18 head-to-head games this year. That might be an indication of how this ALCS goes.)
The magical ride for Tampa continues. Rays in seven.