Purgatory Online

Friday, October 18, 2002

Here we are, ticking down the hours before the first pitch of the first game of the World Series, and toute le (baseball) monde is staggeringly, sweatingly out of things to write about. I heard someone on ESPN News (Gammons, I think) compare these past few days to Super Bowl week, and he's exactly right, which touches on one of the reasons why the World Series is commonly high drama, while the Super Bowl drowns in its own excess: pacing. Dramatic tension can be built only so far before people realize that they don't like being tense all the time and lose interest. Honestly, I fail to see why the baseball playoffs have to start and end on weekends when all the weekend games are night/evening start times anyway. Don't people mostly go out on Saturday nights? Wouldn't you get better ratings in the middle of the week?

Anyway, the crop of stories grown tall in the marshy ground of the baseball commentariat over the past week is of three varieties: the human interest story, about which I've written already and don't feel the need to elaborate, the wisdom of pitching to Bonds, about which I'm not qualified to write and which will be situational anyway, and matchup analysis and prediction. It's pretty much agreed that this is going to be a close series, but whether that represents a considered appraisal or the collective scrambling of sportswriters to cover their asses after ignoring these two teams in favor of the also-rans is up for grabs. Regardless, here for your amusement are all of the predictions I've been able to find so far:

John Donovan says Angels in six. "How do you pick it?" he says. "Short of a dart board and a blindfold, you go with the team that makes fewer mistakes, the one that is more aggressive, the one that has more contributors to the cause (in case anyone breaks down), the one that played in the tougher division." Well, Jesus, is that all you're basing it on?

Stephen Cannella takes the Angels in seven, although he won't say why. Includes a position-by-position comparison, but no clue as to how he weights them.

Rob Neyer takes the Giants in...well, he doesn't say. After conceding that the Angels won more games and had a better run differential (the engine of his beloved Pythagorean standings), Neyer casts his usual tools into a well because he has a psychic hunch that the Giants will be favored to win more games than the Angels in 2003. Really, I'm not making that up. That's the reason.

Joe Morgan goes with the Giants, too. Poor Joe. He was so sure the A's were going all the way this year.

Tim Kirkjian says Giants in seven, completing the ESPN troika.

Andrew Sutton takes the Angels in seven.

I can't find a prediction by anyone at The New York Times (other than on their message board). This is odd, considering that the Times routinely publishes predictions for the exact final score of every NFL game, a practice that has led to a 0-608 record and a certain amount of derision from people who care about such things.

Finally, King Kaufman says it's the Giants in seven.

I'll update this if I find additional guesses between now and tomorrow night. In the meantime, I've gotta get the rally monkey away from the dog.