|Phillies celebration could be short-lived against a Rockies team of destiny|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 01 October 2007 22:37|
That changed when the New York Mets collapsed and the Phillies got into the postseason for the first time in 14 years. So thousands gathered Monday to pay homage to the National League East champions.
Tough to blame them, even if it's considered poor etiquette to celebrate until you've actually got a World Series trophy in hand.
The Phillies, though, get a pass. They probably suspected they were going to have to play the Colorado Rockies, who look suspiciously like a team of destiny if there ever was one.
Baseball's longest scheduled postseason gets under way Wednesday with the usual suspects on hand, an NBA-like schedule, and a lot of smiling faces among the executives at the TBS network. The Yankees are in as always, the Red Sox Nation will be in full bloom, and the Cubbies will do their best to break their fans hearts once again.
But leave it to the Rockies to give us the best story line of all.
They won 13 of their last 14 just for the right to play an extra game to get into the playoffs. Then they beat perhaps the greatest closer ever in a come-from-behind win that ranks up there with the best the 1951 New York Giants had to offer.
The likely rookie of the year plays shortstop for them. The likely MVP is their left fielder. They've got a homegrown lineup that keeps pitchers awake at night, and just enough pitching of their own to make it all work.
Most of all, though, they've got an intangible on their side. Call it momentum or call it destiny, but Jimmy Rollins would be wise not to call in with any brash predictions about this series.
Rollins should have a good series, and Ryan Howard will add a home run or two. But the Rockies will feel right at home amid the short fences at Citizens Bank Park, and should be able to exploit a pitching staff that has allowed more than five runs a game.
Prediction: Rockies in four.
They say money can't buy happiness, but it did buy Chicago a spot in the postseason. The Cubs spent $300 million in the offseason, and a big chunk of it went to Alfonso Soriano, who responded with 14 home runs in September to help the Cubs win the most mediocre division in baseball.
Soriano nearly broke the hearts of Diamondbacks fans when he hit a home run to put the Yankees ahead in the final game of the 2001 World Series, and it wouldn't be surprising if he is the difference for the Cubs, who might have more fans cheering them on at Chase Field than the home team.
Count on these Cubs to advance, but not too far. The last time I checked they had yet to sacrifice a goat outside Wrigley Field, and the World Series title will prove to be as elusive as it has been for the last 99 years.
Prediction: Cubs in five.
If the Yankees somehow win the World Series this year, the irony will be that a team written off for dead before the All-Star break could do what Yankee teams that have been heavily favored to win the last six years couldn't do. And they'll do it with a rotation that, aside from Chien-Ming Wang, is old, cranky and eminently hittable.
But the Yankees do have the two best players in baseball on the left side of their infield, and they do understand what the postseason is all about. And while the Indians tied the Red Sox for the best record in baseball, they're 0-6 against the Yankees this year and haven't won a regular season series against them in 15 years.
Best of all, the pressure is off this Yankees team, which comes into this postseason as a hungry wild-card contender. That may be just what Alex Rodriguez needs to prove himself in October the way he has over and over again in the regular season.
Prediction: Yankees in four.
The Red Sox are a religion in the Boston area, while the Anaheim/Los Angeles/California Angels are merely something else to take the kids to after a day at Disneyland. But the two teams from opposite coasts are a lot alike when it comes to the product on the field.
Both have big sluggers in David Ortiz and Vladimir Guerrero, but it is pitching and speed that will matter most in this series. The Angels have the edge in both categories, though they would have been feeling better about the series if they had not blown a chance at home field advantage by losing three in a row to last-place Texas last week.
The Angels were the best team in baseball at home, but now they'll have to win at Fenway to advance. That won't be as hard as it used to be now that the sad tale of fathers and sons bonded together by their losing team has long since played out and the Red Sox are simply another baseball team with lots of money to spend on the players they want.
Don't count on any warm and fuzzy wins or bloody sock dramatics this time.
Prediction: Angels in five.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlbergap.org