It’s been an epic struggle and tumultuous piece of history, but the end is upon us.
It’s time for the first week playoffs.
We’ve waited so long.
With the panic and celebration still going strong, the red, white and blue bunting decorating ballparks (from opening day, still usable); the Yankees and Red Sox organizations reeling from their absence in the post-season and committing predictable organizational atrocities as retribution; Rafael Soriano having climbed a tree in Central Park and refusing to come down until the media and TV cameras leave (he’s still up there as of this writing); Mike Francesa on a relentless tangent, “Dis will not be acceptable in dis oah-ganization!!”, I present your one-stop shop for the MLB FIRST….WEEK…..PLAYOFFS!!!!
Texas Rangers (5-0) vs Toronto Blue Jays (3-1)
The Blue Jays shocked the world with their first week Wild Card. Rookie manager John Farrell acquitted himself beautifully in taking command through spring training.
“In a first week playoff scenario, it was imperative that we get off to a good start,” Farrell said. “If you get off to a bad start in the first week, well, I think it’s obvious what happens.”
The Rangers have bashed their way through the first week of the season, dominating the Red Sox (for whom pitching coach Curt Young is still missing) and blasting their way into the first week post-season undefeated.
Given the still shaky starting pitching and the way in which first week playoff games are structured, I’ll go against the conventional wisdom and pick the Blue Jays in an upset.
Prediction: Blue Jays in 3.2 innings.
Kansas City Royals vs Baltimore Orioles
Buck Showalter has turned the Orioles around in a rapid timeframe worthy of the greatest managers in history. Never before has a team been so consistently terrible and spun their fortunes to the degree of going undefeated in a season.
But the Royals have an equally compelling story.
During the champagne soaked celebration, consensus first week MVP Jeff Francoeur said, “My style and approach have both been validated. Finally. I was lucky to find an organization like the Royals that values and understands what it is I do.”
Royals starter Bruce Chen was unconcerned with a butterfly landing on one of his side-session pitches in mid-flight.
“That happens all the time,” Chen said.
Prediction: Orioles in five pitches.
One Game Playoff—Philadelphia Phillies vs New York Mets
Given the convoluted nature of a playoff cobbled together after such a limited sample, the Mets and Phillies play for the NL East title with the loser having to engage in a series of round-robin contests with the other clubs who will also be saddled with a 3-2 record—the Braves, Cubs and Pirates.
Predictions for the NLDS won’t be available until the conclusion of: Mets-Phillies: We Don’t Like Each Other (Co-promoted by Don King and Michael Vick.)
The Mets hitchhiked back to New York for the playoff game at Citi Filed while still refusing to acknowledge any alterations in club operations due to the Bernie Madoff–Ponzi scheme lawsuit against the Wilpons.
“This builds character and brings the club closer to the people,” GM Sandy Alderson said.
Bud Selig had no comment as he rushed to his tailor, “Rumpled Bob’s House of Creased Suits”.
The league fined Rollins for speaking out of turn.
Prediction: Phillies in 17 seconds.
An upcoming post will detail the projections and reactions to teams that suffered the ignominy of a poor first week after volcanic expectations of success—the actions taken by said organizations will be swift and brutal.
Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available and will be useful for your fantasy leagues all season long.
I published a full excerpt of my book here.
If anyone would like to purchase an autographed copy, leave a comment; Email me; contact me on Facebook or Twitter. We’ll hash out the details.