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Looking Forward to Baseball’s 2018 Final Four

October 11th, 2018 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers. Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros.

Two teams that played in last year’s World Series.

Two teams that led their league in victories.

Four teams that are rolling. Two best-of-seven series to decide who plays in the 2018 World Series.

Baseball has reached its version of the Final Four, with the Brewers and Dodgers playing for the National League pennant, and the Red Sox and Astros vying for the American League pennant.

It could be, should be interesting, given that these seem to be the four best teams in baseball. Nobody fluky has sneaked into this party.

The Dodgers started the season 16-26. They were 76-45 thereafter and won the National League West. The Brewers charged down the stretch, winning their final eight (and 23 of their final 30) to overhaul the Chicago Cubs for the NL Central title.

Dodgers fans are agitated that their team has not won a World Series since 1988.

Brewers fans are excited that their franchise — which has never won a World Series since beginning play as the Seattle Pilots in 1969 — is one step away from their second pennant (and first in the NL).

These are well-matched opponents. The Dodgers rate advantages in starting pitching, home-run hitting ability and defense. The Brewers have the league’s likely MVP, Christian Yelich, and a killer bullpen anchored by strikeout machine Josh Hader. If the Dodgers don’t have a lead by the fifth inning, they probably will lose the game.

One potential issue for the Brewers? They have not played a game since Sunday, and if “momentum” is a real thing, they may have lost it during the long wait for Game 1.

But, I already am on record on this one. Before the wild-card playoffs began, I told a reader that the Dodgers would lose to the Brewers in the NLCS.

I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. I would like to see the Dodgers end their run of coming up short at 29 years.

In that note to a reader, mentioned above, I suggested Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen were the key players for the Dodgers, and I still believe that.

Kershaw has to overcome his history of being less-than-stellar in the postseason, given that he could start three times in a seven-game series, and Game 1 is always big. As for Jansen, he doesn’t look quite the same since his latest health scare; the Dodgers need him to close things quickly because the rest of their bullpen has tended towards mediocrity.

This is the series that matters to me, to the point that I will attempt to watch at “unsocial hours” here in France. (A 2:09 a.m. start, early Saturday.)

However, the ALCS has the feel of “the real World Series”. Unlike the Dodgers and Brewers, who at times seemed vulnerable, the Red Sox and Astros dominated their opponents, winning 108 and 103 games, respectively. And the Astros won it all a year ago.

Both teams are deep. In starting pitching (Verlander vs. Sale in Game 1), on offense, in the bullpen. They are so close that the balky back of Astros shortstop Carlos Correa could tilt this one toward the Red Sox.

I tend to root against all Boston teams at all times, long ago put off by their obnoxious fans, but as a Dodgers fan I am annoyed that the Astros beat the Dodgers in the World Series a year ago, winning Game 7 in Dodger Stadium.

It will be a surprise if the National League survivor beats the AL winner, so the prediction here (and I will be watching closely) is … Boston in six over the Brewers in the World Series.




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