Now that the White Sox have wrapped up the final playoff spot after Tuesday night’s 1-0 thriller over the Twins for the AL Central title, we can finally make our playoff predictions.
But first, a reflection on what the White Sox accomplished. Most of you would probably give credit for the division title to John Danks for tossing a two-hit shutout. Or Ken Griffey Jr. and A.J. Pierzynski for making a play at the plate to keep that shutout going. Or Jim Thome for blasting the only run of the game over the fence.
What you don’t know is that the Sox also have a 5-year-old and a redheaded Jew to thank for their good fortune. The 5-year-old is Jake Hahn, son of Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn. When MLB conducted a coin flip between the Sox and Twins on Sept. 12 to determine who would host a one-game playoff, little Jake told his dad to pick heads. He did. And because of it, the Twins season is done. Someone get that kid a playoff share.
The redheaded Jew is my good friend Shady Ethan, who fittingly had a somewhat shadier role in the Twins’ demise. (Shady Ethan is not to be confused with my other friend Thporth, who is also named Ethan and has red hair, but is a gentile. And not shady).
Shady Ethan is a diehard Sox fan who now lives in San Francisco. Every time they come to Oakland, he’s sure to be there. And when he gets a chance to root against teams locked in a playoff hunt with the Sox — like the Twins — he’s there to root on the A’s. Such was the case on a Saturday night late in August when Joe Nathan lost his first game of the season. And Shady Ethan is convinced it was because he got into Nathan’s head, kind of like that guy in Major League 2 who heckles Rick Vaughn.
“I sat right behind the bullpen. First row. He looked at me and yelled at me,” recalls Shady Ethan. “He went to the mound with a one-run lead. I yelled his name before every pitch he released. First guy he walked on four straight pitches. Then he hit the next batter in the back. Then he threw the ball into the outfield. The whole time I was screaming his name as loud as I could.”
Given the dimensions of Oakland Coliseum — yes, that’s what I’m calling it, dammit — this is possible. The bullpens are down the foul line, like at Wrigley Field. And there aren’t many people there when the A’s are out of contention, so it’s entirely possible that someone as loud as Shady Ethan — who wears the fact that he’s been kicked out of several White Sox games as a badge of honor (as I recall he was once removed for heckling Albert Belle when he was on the Sox) — could be heard. But what was he saying?
“Just screaming his name. Told him he sucked donkey dick. And I was telling him Punto wanted to blow him. Only I called him Puto instead of Punto.”
So there you have it, White Sox fans. One of your own played a clandestine role in helping derail the Twins. Even though I still personally refuse to give him any credit for it.
Before we get on with the show and this year’s playoff predictions, I figured I’d also take a look at the picks I made at the beginning of the season, as many of them have been rendered hilarious. Some of the highlights:
1. Mets (93-69) After tasting what 1969 felt like for the Cubs in last September’s collapse, the Mets are ready to rebound and climb back on top of the NL East standings. Just like the ‘70 Cubs did. Well, just like they would have if they had picked up Johan Santana in the off-season.
Guess they were more like the ’70 Cubs than I realized. Actually, check that. The ’70 Cubs never choked.
2. Blue Jays (91-72)* That’s right folks! Here’s your boldest prediction of the 2008 season. Just as the Canadian dollar has come out of nowhere to supplant its American brother, Toronto will upset the Yankees-Red Sox axis that has reigned over the AL East for the past decade. And to make my pick even spicier, I anticipate that they will win the Wild Card in a one-game playoff against the Tigers. I might want to work on that part of my pick, though.
3. Red Sox (89-73) Remember how we were talking about how Boston ruled the sports world last October? The Red Sox were champs, the Patriots were rolling and the Celtics were loaded. Even Boston College football was making noise. Well, all that karma has to run out some time. And that time is now. Somewhere along the line, a major injury is going to derail the Sox enough for the Jays to leapfrog them.
4. _____ Rays (77-85) Now that they’ve dropped the Devil from their name, the ____ Rays are poised to have the finest season of their miserable existence. Sadly, anything less than 90 losses will qualify for that mark. In fact, I see this team at the .500 mark or higher at the All-Star break. But Satan will have his revenge and curse them with a typically bad second half of the season.
I feel like I was almost onto something here, other than picking the Yankees to win the division. I knew there would be a one-game playoff in the AL. Just went the wrong direction with the teams. The Jays were good — but not until they fired John Gibbons. Boston suffered a major injury to break up its string of good luck — only it happened to the Patriots and Tom Brady. And the Rays were over .500 at the All-Star break. Guess Satan’s asleep at the wheel for that collapse.
1. Indians (94-68) If you could pick a song for closer Joe Borowski to enter the game to, what would it be? I’m thinking the song from “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” would be a good one. Or the Benny Hill music. Here’s hoping for another 40-save season for JoeBo, no matter how high that ERA goes.
2. Tigers (90-73) As previously noted, I have the Tigers losing a one-game playoff to the Blue Jays. Although a week ago I would have had them winning said game. A week from now, I might jump back onto this post to “predict” 90 losses.
Swing… and a miss. But seriously, how could the Indians have C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee in their rotation at the same time and still finish in third place? That’s embarrassing.
2. Mariners (88-74) The only thing separating the M’s from the Angels is a significant injury. If it happens, these two will flip-flop in their finish. Either way, expect the most significant late season games between the Mariners and Angels since Enrico Palazzo called the balls and strikes.
I’m going to go ahead and suggest that everyone that was involved in the Mariners organization this year be banned from baseball a la Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe.
So to make this remarkably long story somewhat shorter, prior to the season I had the Cubs, D’Backs, Mets and Dodgers making the playoffs in the NL. And the Yankees, Indians, Angels and Blue Jays in the AL. Hey, three out of eight ain’t… good. I also had the Indians beating the Cubs in the World Series.
So in that tradition of excellence, here are your (UPDATED) official KC Masterpiece Bold MLB Playoff Predictions:
Dodgers beat Cubs, 3-1: Dick Stockton will be too much for the Cubs to overcome. This will mark the first time in my life I have longed for Joe Buck.
Phillies beat Brewers, 3-1: Most people figure the Crew will win at least the game that C.C. pitches, which in this case is Game 2 in Philly. I predict the Brewers bullpen will blow that game, but Milwaukee will salvage a win in the series when the teams play the first playoff game in Brewtown since 1982.
White Sox beat Rays, 3-2: Tropicana Field was built with the hopes of luring the White Sox to St. Pete in the late ’80s. Fittingly, it will be the first team the Rays ever face in the playoffs. And because nothing the White Sox have done all year makes any sense, they’ll win this series.
Angels beat Red Sox, 3-2: What a series this will be. Obviously, it could go either way. I’m picking the Angel way.
Dodgers beat Phillies, 4-3: The NL West is a stinking dog of a division. The Dodgers are easily the worst team in the playoffs. Thus, they will win the National League pennant. And Hank Steinbrenner will find a way to bitch about it.
Angels beat White Sox, 4-0: The Angels remember how shit went down in 2005. A.J. Pierzynski may become the first player ever hit with a battery by an Angels fan.
Angels beat Dodgers, 4-2: We enter the playoffs with two chances at a crosstown series. At least if you consider Anaheim crosstown from LA. Anyway, this Series won’t actually be decided until Thanksgiving, as there will be a major earthquake prior to Game 1 that delays things. The ensuing stock market crash and rioting following the presidential election will continue delaying things before the Series marks a “return to normalcy.”