Can you see it, off in the distance? It's a slight glow, and it's as if it's coming from the future...It feels almost magical, and comforting like a blanket on a cold fall evening. What could it be? What could it mean?
The playoffs are just around the corner! That's what it means!
That glow you see is the coming illumination of a hundred million HD televisions all coming on at the same time in the near future. Scientists have estimated that so much simultaneous glow will zap the Earth of most of it's energy and can be seen from across the galaxy.
Somewhere out there, about a thousands years from now, an alien civilization will be looking at our planet and see it suddenly get much brighter, and they will know: It's playoff time in 2008.
The glow they see will actually be us blowing up the planet, but it's best that they don't assume the worst. After all, the rescue ship will be headed their way and we're going need a place to crash.
So here we are...
It all began way back in March when the Red Sox flew for 376 hours to get to Japan so they can play against the Oakland Athletics, a team ordinarily only three hours away, at 5 AM. Some commentators have dared to try and say that they weren't actually playing at 5 AM because of something called time zones, but they can't fool me. I watched them play, and I can assure you it was most definitely 5 AM.
Then a whole lot of months happened and about a trillion games were played. Most of these games resulted in a fairly even split of wins and losses, especially since there were no ties this year, even in the All-Star game. All of these wins and losses were just as important as any other outcome, even in the final week of the season, but everyone continued the tradition of pretending they weren't.
Tradition is very important to ball players and fans. If you need proof, just see how often a pitcher touches the lines when walking to or from the mound. You could put a gun to the mother of the pitcher and demand that he step on the line and he will have to think seriously on the subject for at least a few minutes before coming to the obvious conclusion.
If you don't know what that conclusion would be, then you don't understand baseball tradition.
So, after many months of games, we now come to the final weekend of the regular season. Most of the races, with the exception of the Twins/White Sox and Phillies/Mets, are decided. However, the sports announcers continue pretending they aren't (they need something to talk about).
The other day I actually heard the NL West called a "tight race." For those of you who are unaware, the Diamondbacks are four games back with five games to play. The mathematically inclined would see that as all but officially over, but in strict tradition announcers are legally unable to stop referring to it as a "tight race" until well after one is mathematically eliminated.
The Rangers were still in a "tight race" with the Angels until just last Monday.
Anyway, so now the question becomes: What will happen in the playoffs? I will now offer my predictions. These are highly scientific assumptions based around a whirlwind of research involving nearly 45 minutes of SportsCenter each morning for the last 15 years and roughly two to four Red Sox games per week this season. So you can be certain they will be highly accurate.
I think the Twins will win the division and square off with the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS. On the other side of the league, the Red Sox will face the dreaded Angels, a team so good that their closer has managed to defy the laws of physics by not bursting into flames with every pitch from his horrifyingly painful-looking delivery.
In the Rays-Twins series, I think the winner will be the Rays in three. Sorry, Minnesota. I really appreciate everything you did for me and my best man when we went there for my bachelor trip last May, but I just don't see you being good enough to best the high-riding Rays
In the Angels-Red Sox series, I see a hard fought contest that goes all five. In the end, though, I think Beckett will become unhittable all of a sudden once again and steal the series away from the Angels. That is, after all, what Beckett does. It's his thing. You can't take that away from a man.
So, I think the ALCS will be the Rays and the Red Sox. The R&R's. Interestingly, there won't be any R&R for fans, because I think this series will be intense. And tragically, I think the winner will be the Rays (sorry, a little of my bias slipped through there with "tragically" but I'm sure you can forgive me). Sorry, Boston. You will always be my town, but this Rays team is being backed by Disney writers, and you just don't screw with that kind of authority.
I think the Mets will manage to pull ahead of the Phillies. I base this around the fact that Pedro is still super awesome, even though I know he's not really still super awesome anymore. In my mind he is, though, and that's what matters. My brain just can't wrap itself around the idea that he's not still great. I don't even want to try, really. I'm afraid it might hurt.
Therefore, with the Mets facing the Dodgers, I'm sorry to say that I expect a lot of tears in New York. I hope Pedro can forgive me for this prediction, but I've already written a column where I said I expected the Dodgers to go to the World Series and I don't want to contradict myself anymore than I already have.
In the other series, the Cubs will face the Brewers (did I forget to mention that I thought the Brewers would win the Wild Card? Sorry, Phillies...) and the Cubs will win in four. Sabathia will win his start in game one, and then when the Brewers lose their next two games they will send Sabathia out again in Game Four and he will promptly collapse from throwing over 300 pitches per game for nearly two months.
In the ALCS, the Cubs and Dodgers will square off, and the Dodgers will win. I already explained why, and I'm not doing it again.
Dodgers-Rays. Talk about weird.
So far we've had a Yankee-less post-season, the Red Sox lose to a team that just last season was so awful that the team could have been replaced with little leaguers and no one would have noticed, and the Mets made the playoffs entirely because of my mental depiction of Pedro Martinez.
Thus I think it's fitting that this be the World Series match-up. I could tell you who would win, but that would be no fun. I'll give you a hint, though: Disney.
So, there you have it. Keep in mind, these predictions are entirely based on almost nothing. Nonetheless, I fully expect to be proved correct. And when I am, I want in on the script writing with you-know-who (I won't say them again, I promise). I've seen every Pixar and sports film ever made, so I know what it takes:
Denzel Washington, a highly diverse cast, and a wildly inaccurate final showdown, sometimes involving the wrong teams. Let's make it happen!
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