With the 2008 regular season heading into the last month, what are the chances of back-to-back World Series for the Boston Red Sox?
First, they still need to make the playoffs. Unlike the Angels and the Cubs, the Sox can't afford to lose concentration, with Minnesota and the White Sox in good positions to make a bid for the wild card.
But neither side looks like they want to get to October, let alone overhaul the Red Sox. So, Boston's priority must be to win the AL East and avoid the Angels in the ALDS.
For a long time, the Rays had held the Sox at arm's length, leading the AL East by four or five games. But, a poor start to September for the Rays has given confidence to the Red Sox.
Defeat tonight for the Rays would see their lead cut to 2.5 games. With a three-game series at Fenway next week, and Lester, Dice-K, and Beckett set to start, I feel we could see the Sox topping the AL East by Sept. 10.
And then what?
The Sox have to hold on to the division lead, something they haven't had since July 13. If they can (and that's a big 'if'), the Sox will go into a divisional series against the White Sox or the Twins with confidence and home-field advantage. It's possible though, with Boston having 14 home games left, to the Rays' eight.
I fancy the Angels will beat the Rays in three, with Tampa Bay lacking the experience or the consistency to thrive in October. For me, a Red Sox/Angels matchup in the ALCS will decide the World Series champions.
The Sox have won nine-straight postseason games against L.A., but the Angels have been too strong all year to be written off and have been victorious in eight of nine against Boston in 2008.
As much as I'd love to see the Sox win the World Series again, I'm predicting that, as the Angels will have home-field, they'll take the series in six and win the World Series for only the second time in their history.
So here are my predictions, in short.
AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: White Sox
AL West: Angels
Wild Card: Rays
Red Sox to beat White Sox and Angels to beat Rays.
Angels to beat Red Sox.
NL East: Mets
NL Central: Cubs
NL West: Dodgers
Wild Card: Brewers
Cubs to beat Dodgers and Mets to beat Brewers
Cubs to beat Mets
World Series 2008
Angels to beat Cubs in five
Let me know what you think.