Purgatory Online

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Since this is just the first round of the playoffs, we're not quite to the point where I can make fun of the ludicriously overwrought human-interest stories the baseball press vomits up every fall. Here, instead, are the predictions I've been able to find on the Angels-Red Sox series:

King Kaufman takes the Red Sox in four:
But the real difference in this series, other than the two top starters, is the lineups. The Red Sox lead the league in just about everything offensively. The Angels do a nice job of putting the ball in play and manufacturing runs, but they're a middle-of-the-pack hitting team even at full strength, and their missing the suspended Jose Guillen and the injured Adam Kennedy. They small-balled their way to the championship two years ago, but I don't think they have the horses this time.

Bill "The Sports Guy" Simmons says it's Red Sox in five:
So here's my big prediction: Schilling cruises over Washburn in Game 1. Game 2 (Colon vs. Pedro) has all the makings of one of those epic Red Sox defeats where the wheels come off in some excruciating way, sending everyone back home into an absolute panic (I'm getting a weird vibe about Jeff DaVanon in this game -- can't explain it). In Game 3, Arroyo pitches the game of his life. Up 2-1 in Game 4, Francona nearly panics and pitches Schilling on three days rest, then thinks better of it and hands the ball to Wakefield, who gets shelled in an ugly 11-9 slugfest. Poor Francona just can't win either way. So everyone flies back to Anaheim for Game Five ... and Schilling lays the smack down on Colon. Series over. Bring on Santana and the Twins.

Jayson Stark is taking the Red Sox to win the World Series, which presumably means they'd get past the Angels:
Still, we're picking the Red Sox -- because we expect Schilling to win Game 1. Which will give the Sox a chance to win the series at Fenway. And we like the way the Boston hitters match up against a staff that "doesn't pitch in very much," said one scout, "which is the only way to beat the Red Sox."

Aside from Simmons and Stark, the other ESPN analyst predictions are in this chart. To summarize:

Red Sox - Peter Gammons, Rob Neyer, Jerry Crasnick, Tim Kurkjian, Jim Caple, Pedro Gomez, Sean McAdam, John Sickels, Scott Ridge.

Angels - Buster Olney, Eric Neel, Bob Klapisch, Phil Rogers, Matt Szefc.

Additionally, Mark Simon is listed as taking the Angels in the ALDS, but predicts the Yankees over the Red Sox in the ALCS. Good luck, Mark!

Elsewhere on ESPN, Page 2 summarizes the picks of the aforementioned Eric Neel and Jim Caple, and adds ESPN editors Michael Knisley and David Schoenfield. Neel and Shoenfield have the Angels in five, Caple and Knisley the Red Sox in four.

John Donovan at Sports Illustrated picks the Red Sox in five:
If the postseason comes down to pitching -- and it usually does -- this series belongs to Boston. Schilling and Martinez rule over any Angels' starting duo. Still, the Angels won the World Series in '02 with a shaky rotation when their bullpen bailed them out. Can the Angels do it again? They've come a long way through a lot of pain, but the best lineup in the AL, coupled with that rotation and a good Boston pen, puts an end to Anaheim's season here.

So does Aaron Gleeman at The Hardball Times:
This really is a tough series to pick a winner for, and certainly tougher than it would have been with Oakland playing Boston. While the Angels have the better bullpen, that doesn't help them much unless the game is close in the late innings. The Red Sox have the better, deeper offense and far better starting pitching, and should be able to score enough runs on Anaheim's starters early to minimize the impact of the Angels' relievers. This is Boston's series to lose, and they won't if Foulke can hold leads late. I think he will.

As for today's game...Bodog.com puts it at Boston -168, Anaheim +153, meaning you'd have to wager $168 on Boston to win $100, and betting $100 on Anaheim would win you $153.

All of this seems to add up to one thing: the Angels are underdogs. Again.

It's funny - everyone seems to sagely agree that the 2004 team just doesn't measure up to the 2002 squad. But these are the same folks who universally picked those poor 2002 Angels to fold to the unstoppable juggernaut that was the New York Yankees. After all, just look at all that playoff experience the Yankees had! And the only Angel who'd ever even been to the playoffs was Kevin Appier!

Whatever, man. None of these picks are anything but the cheep-cheep-cheeping of guys with columns due. In the meantime, fifty guys in uniforms will figure it out and let us know the real answer in a few days, after which those same prognosticators, most of whom will have been wrong, will write to let us know why such an outcome was inevitable.

Me? I don't have a prediction, just as suggestion:


[Update: Rob also has a prediction roundup at 6-4-2]