Sunday, October 07, 2007

MLB Playoff Buzz (sorry, Yankees)

The baseball playoffs are in full swing! As we rapidly approach the long, cold, pointless winter of our discontent, the Smart Centipede takes a look at what's happening in the first round of the MLB playoffs.

American League - Division Series

Boston Red Sox (96 - 66, AL EAST) vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (94 - 68, AL WEST)

SHOCK THE MONKEY - The Boston Red Sox swept the Angels in three games this week. The Angels have had little success since winning their first World Series in 2002, when they defeated Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants in seven games. Known simply as the Anaheim Angels at the time, the franchise changed their name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in an attempt to get some of the nearby L.A. fan base to root for them. Odd, considering that before being known as the Anaheim Angels, they were known as the California Angels. Maybe they should change their name to the "West of the Mississippi Angels," so they can tap the maximum fan base possible. Plus, their target demographic would finally be equal in size to Vladmir "Nose to Toes" Guerrero's strike zone. Their mascot, the pestilential "Rally Monkey," reminds us that, while their offense could "outbreak" at any moment, their playoff chances goes up in smoke quicker than an African mercenary camp riddled with mutaba.

RAMIREZ' HAIR GETS 2 YEAR DEAL - Boston left fielder, Manny Ramirez has struggled since coming back from a leg injury, but he has hit a resurgence at just the right time. Los Angeles/Anaheim/Greater Southern California area pitchers have avoided David "Big Poppi" Ortiz, who has been walked more than a chihuahua with a spastic colon, and with no one else in the line up capable of providing protection, the strategy has worked. But Ramirez made the tactic back fire in game two, hitting a walk-off homerun. Ramirez, injured for a portion of the season, said he still isn't 100%, but added "“But I guess when you don’t feel good and you still get hits, that’s when you know you are a bad man.” He then took a hit of "breath-gas," and left to force humans to mine gold in the Rocky Mountains for his Psychlo commander Terl. His hair declined to comment about the contract -ahem- extension.


Cleveland Indians (96 - 66, AL CENTRAL) vs. New York Yankees (94 - 68, AL WILDCARD)

THE NINTH PLAGUE OF ROCKY COLAVITO - The Indians may be the team of destiny this year, as they appeared to have divine intervention save them in game two. With the Yankees up 1-0 in the eighth inning, and rookie phenom/intergalactic mob boss Joba Chamberlain on the mound, a swarm of insects descended on Jacobs Field, creating an obvious distraction for the Yankees reliever, who threw two wild pitches and walked a couple of batters, allowing a run in a game which the Indians went on to win 2-1 in extra innings, taking a 2-0 lead in the series. Kenny Lofton, a one time Yankee (and three-time Indian) is looking to take it to his former club, and has hit an insane .714 with 4 RBI for his former-former club. Teammate Jhonny Peralta is still tied for the league lead in misspelled first names with San Diego reliever Cla Meredith.

STEINBRENNER FIRES TORRE, LEVELS ORPHANAGE - Already on the hot seat for not winning the division for the first time in a decade, manager Joe Torre may be out after this season if the Yankees don't turn it around. "I want another World Series Ring NOW!" George Steinbrenner cried, "And I don't care how I get it!" Third-baseman/origami-man Alex Rodrigez has continued his annual ritual of struggling like a choking infant in the post season, a fact made more mystifying by his MVP caliber performance in the regular season. Rodriguez led the team and the majors with 54 HR and 156 RBI this season, before transforming into a newborn possum once arriving in Cleveland for the ALDS, covered in amniotic funk, his eyes not yet fully formed and striken with weakness that prohibits him from even feeding himself. Rodriguez is expected to opt-out of his record breaking quarter-of-a-billion-dollar 10 year contract this off-season, believing he can make more money in the free-agent market. He seeks a deal that may include part ownership of whatever team he plays for. The odds on favorite to land him are the newly re-christened "Alex Rodriguez Presents The Los Angeles, California Angels of Anaheim, California, USA, Now Featuring Alex Rodriguez."


National League - Division Series

Arizona Diamondbacks (90-62, NL WEST) vs. Chicago Cubs (85-77, NL CENTRAL)

THE CURSE OF NOTHING IN PARTICULAR - The cursed Cubbies lost in unusual fashion this week, getting swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in a disappointing series that featured no controvesial fan interference, gypsy curses, player scandals, or other curiosities that usually give false hope to devoted North side fans. Chicago manager Lou Pinella's removal of staff ace Carlos Zambrano can be cited as a questionable move, but beyond that, the Cubs failed to provide fans a single excuse for why their favorite team lost beyond simply not being good enough to win. "I don't know how to explain this," said long time Cubs fan Becky Nellis, "normally, there's a goat, or an unruly fan, or hailstones the size of Sammy Sosa's misshapen head that cause our team to miss out on the World Series. There's none of that excitement, none of that mystery. What can I tell my friends, who are White Sox fans, other than 'yeah, we just sucked this year'? How will I explain away the team's inadequacies without curses, bad calls, or acts of God?"

DESERT DROUGHT MAY BE OVER - The Diamondbacks are headed to the NLCS for the first time since they won the 2001 World Series as under dogs to the New York Yankees, a drought of six agonizing years. Many fans have theories why the Diamondbacks have been so unfortunate in recent years, ranging from poor managerial decisions to the curse of Buck Showalter, but the fact remains; the epic futility of the Diamondbacks struggles to bring fans a second world series title may be over. "I was born a Diamondbacks fan, and it has been a long hard road," said 5 year old Tyler Gonzo Fletcher, a resident of Phoenix Arizona, whos middle name was given to him to honor Luis Gonzalez, who delivered the last hit in the D-backs 2001 World Series win. The Diamondbacks fans have tried many ways to break the jinx that has troubled their team, such as burning Tony Womack cards. Womack, who only had 2 hits in 13 at bats in the 2002 playoffs, is regarded as somewhat of a scape goat for the latest playoff failure since the glory days of 2001. "This may be the year we finally win another one," Fletcher said. "The long wait may be over!"


Philadelphia Phillies (89-73, NL EAST) vs. Colorado Rockies (90-73, NL WILDCARD)

WE ARE THE CHAMPI oh, it's over... - The Philadephia Philles were shocked to learn yesterday that they had been eliminated from the 2007 playoffs, losing in three games to the Colorado Rockies. "Wait, what?!?" Shortstop Jimmy Rollins said, looking around in disbelief. "When the Hell did that happen?" The Phillies, coming fresh off their first NL East Division Title in 14 years, were elated to have made the playoffs after the New York Mets historic collapse saw them drop a seemingly insurmountable 7 game lead with 17 to play. The Phillies grabbed the lead with two days left in the season, and won the division on the last day, defeating the Washington Nationals 6-1. "We're done?" Phillies slugger Ryan Howard said, looking around quizzically. "But, I didn't even unpack my bats! How the heck are we already done?" Many Phillies players apparently didn't know they were in the midst of a best of five series against the Colorado Rockies, as many were still busy celebrating their dramatic history making run at the playoffs.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HUH? - The Colorado Rockies stunned the baseball world, and themselves, by sweeping the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the 2007 playoffs to advance to their first ever NLCS. "Wait, what?!?" catcher Yorvit Torrealba said, looking around incredulously. "We won? Dude, sweet!" Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis was elated to hear the news. "So the first round you just have to win three games? Cool!" Byung Hung Kim, who nearly cost the Diamondbacks their only Championship in 2001, sat in the center of the Rockies club house, telling tall tales of the mythical place known as The World Series. "It can't be true!" left fielder Matt Holliday said, his eyes wide in fascination, as Kim described a series of seven games so important that they all were scheduled for prime time national television. "So people outside of Colorado would be able to see us?" shortstop Troy Tulowitzki asked, "honest?" Kim continued to regail the Rockies with stories about a time when AL and NL teams would only meet in the world series, who stared starry-eyed, gasping with wonder.