Here is the first post from our other new copywriter, Ariel Sandler. Ariel and Brent will be providing much of the content going forward, but still I’ll sneak in an occasional post. Enjoy…
Football, football, football.
Thatās all Chicago sports fans have on their minds these days:
Can the Bears overcome a full season without Brian Urlacher? Will Jay Cutler do what the likes of Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman and others couldnāt? Is Johnny Knox a real person or reality show alter-ego?
And understandably so.
2009 was yet another disappointing baseball season in the Windy City. Mental mistakes and lackadaisical plays led White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen to question his teamās effort and GM Kenny Williams to deem his team āunderachievers.ā
Donāt even get me started on my Cubbies. A season full of hope quickly soured to angst and anger. The baseball gods did everything in their powers ā even delaying the final crosstown matchup until September- but to no avail.
At least Jake Peavy ended up in Chicagoā¦
But before I dive head-first into the football deep-end, a post-season baseball tournament remains. And who doesnāt love playing prognosticator?
American League Divisional Series
Well wouldnāt you know itā¦just when I had written the Twinkies off, both literally and figuratively, they go and win four straight games to close out the season and force game no. 163. And the little team that could ā did it again! Who needs home run slugger Justin Morneau when you have the best player in the world not named Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, on your team? Or when lesser known players like Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel combine for 59 homers? What is there to say other then, Thank you, Minnesota,ā for once again proving a team doesnāt need barrels of cash to field a winner. Speaking of whichā¦
The recession-proof Yankees are back on top, sporting a $200 million payroll and the leagueās best record. Unlike the Cubs, New Yorkās offseason acquisitions worked out swimmingly. Mark Teixeira, the other switch-hitter, leads the American League in RBI and the golden arm, CC Sabathia leads the AL in victories.
Itās your classic David vs. Goliath. Only this time, Goliath snatches the slingshot out of the air and suddenly whips it right back in Davidās face. Minnesotaās emotional high may net them a win against the Bronx Bombers, but I say Yanks in four.
Thought about starting with a joke concerning the Angels name, but letās be honest ā that jokeās not funny anymore. So stop.
The Boston Red Sox seem to have underachieved all season. Or maybe thatās just because I have a number of their players on my failed fantasy baseball squad. But that lineup is stacked. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis and Victor Martinez? That reads like an all-star team. And only one of them has been accused of steroids.
Out West, the Angels continue to be who we thought theyād be. A winning team. They have played inspired ball all season and do so in a style many teams (paging Jim Hendry) underrate: speed and defense. But letās not kid ourselves āname the Angelsā home run and wins leader.
If you said Kendry Morales and Joe Saunders ā find something better to do with your time. The Angels will fight and hang aroundā¦until Papi lays the hammer down and continues his power resurgence. Sox in five.
National League Divisional Series
I must decide: am I more excited for Manny Ramirez vs. Albert Pujols or Joe Torre vs. Tony LaRussa? āWowā¦that ball must have gone 500 feet!ā Or āWhat a pitching change! Look at that double-switch countermove!ā Decisions, decisions.
Either way, this should be a good one. Both squads have received tremendous boosts from players not named Manny or Albert. The series may come down to which ārole playersā (Dodgersā Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier or Cardinalsā Matt Holliday and Ryan Ludwick) step up.
The Rockies are back! This team just doesnāt go away anymoreā¦ever. Troy Tulowitzki is ridiculous. Todd Helton is timeless. And Jason Marquis is winning games. This team survived the Wild Card cluster and almost caught the Dodgers.
The Philadelphia Phillies remain a conundrum. They are better on the road than at home. They just demoted their closer, Brad Lidge, a guy who was perfect in saves a season ago. But they have four guys ā Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez and Chase Utley ā with over 30 home runs. Add two feared pitchers, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, and you should be set. Phillies in four.
American League Championship Series
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
Yanks and Sox. Sox and Yanks. Can you believe these teams havenāt met in the playoffs since 2004? Interestingly enough ā the 2009 matchup will play very much like that series five years ago ā only this time:
ā¦with the Sox up 3-2 and mere outs away from a four-game sweep, Johnny Damon does his best 2004 impersonation (sans Jesus beard) and hits a two-run shot off Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th as āthe Yankees win!ā¦theeee Yankeeeesss win!ā Hilarity ensues.
Sabathia and Burnett dominate games five and six, setting up the finale in new Yankee Stadium.
Madonna sings the National Anthem. Kate Hudson throws out the first pitch. And suddenly, Alex Rodriguez (you didnāt think I forgot about him?), realizes, āHey, itās good to be me,ā and goes off. A four-hit night concludes with a three-run 8th inning blast for a 6-4 win.
And just like that ā itās Alex Rodriguezās world. Weāre just living in it.
National League Championship Series
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Over on the senior circuit, the Cardinals and Phillies attempt similar fireworks. But thatās like any Seinfeld-cast member starring in a new show (although I guess Elaine wins). Pitchers absolutely dominate this series. They split the first four after a number of solo shots. Once again, Carpenter and Wainwright, prove the difference. Cardinals take the champs in six.
But not before Brad Lidge plunks Pujols in the shoulder ā sending everyone, except for LaRussa, into a frenzy. Can he play in the Series? Why didnāt he simply hit the destroy button as the ball approached? Ladies and gentleman, your fireworks.
New York Yankees vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Calm down, Cardinals fans. Pujols is in the lineup. He is āThe Machine,ā remember? And he delivers, too. St. Louis grabs the lead after Yankee skipper Joe Girardi inexplicably pitches to Pujols with two men on base in the 8th inning and up 3-2. Pujols places one in the gap for a double and the Cardinals take a 1-0 lead.
The Steinbrennerās throw a fit.
Girardi regroups, as do the Yankees, and take the next three games. The Cardinals send Chris Carpenter back to the mound in game five and he wins again ā making him a ridiculous 6-0 in the playoffs.
The Steinbrennerās throw another fit.
Sabathia takes the mound in game six and dominates. Couple that with two Teixeira home runs over the short porch in right and the Yankees storm the mound.
So there you have it. Your 2009 MLB postseason. The Yankees prove you have to spend money to make money. So the economy listens. And the recession lifts.
A guy can dream, canāt he?