Each MLB Contender's Dream October Matchup
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The San Francisco Giants are the reigning World Series champions, after winning it all in 2010. The Giants defeated Atlanta, Philadelphia and Texas to win their first ever title since moving to San Francisco in 1958.
The Giants' last world championship, prior to last season, came in 1954 against the Cleveland Indians. At that time, the team was still playing in New York. Only the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians have had longer championship droughts than the Giants, before last year.
With the 2011 regular season only a couple of weeks from ending, the four playoff teams from each league are pretty well set. Each of those eight teams has a dream playoff matchup.
Most of these dream scenarios will not occur this year because the rival opponent is not in a playoff position. Nevertheless, let's take a look at those ideal dream series'.
Chipper Jones hopes for one more shot at the World Series
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It would be fun to see the outstanding relief tandem of Venters and Kimbrell go up against the likes of Pedroia and Ortiz with the game on the line. It would also likely be the great Chipper Jones' swan song, if the Braves made it all the way.
The biggest drawback of seeing the Braves advance to the World Series is that we would have to watch the tomahawk chop and hear the inane chant of the Braves fans far too many times.
Ryan Howard leads the Phillies to the NL playoffs
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The Philadelphia Phillies want to erase the painful memory of Ryan Howard taking a called third strike against Brian Wilson, which catapulted the Giants to the 2010 World Series. The Giants will not be back in the playoffs this year, but the Phillies sure will and they have a great chance to go all the way.
Led by their outstanding starting pitchers Halladay, Lee and Hamels, the Phillies would be tough to beat in any short series.
Philadelphia and New York have been bitter rivals in all of the major sports, whether it be hockey, basketball, football or baseball. For this reason a Phillies vs. Yankees World Series would be their dream matchup.
With all due respect to the central and western parts of our country, the east coast media would love this matchup. ESPN, who rarely acknowledges anything west of the Mississippi, would be in the throes of rapture.
Ryan Braun is having an MVP caliber year
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The Milwaukee Brewers have had a strong offense for several years and are led by Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder. Now, however, they have put together a strong starting rotation led by Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum.
For the first time in several years, the Brewers have a legitimate chance to go all the way. For their dream matchup, I pick the Minnesota Twins.
The Twins will not make the playoffs this year, so this is an unrealistic possibility, but can you imagine the consternation of the media executives if these two met in a World Series?
A Milwaukee - Minnesota matchup could provide the lowest TV ratings for the World Series in recent history. The north central portion of our country would like it, but the east and west coast surely would not.
Justin Upton leads the Arizona offense
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The Arizona Diamondbacks have played some great baseball in the past six weeks to overtake the Giants and take a strangle hold on the NL West.
The team is led by Justin Upton and Miguel Montero on offense. It is the pitching staff that has led the way for the Diamondbacks' resurgence. Led by Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and J.J. Putz, Arizona will make it tough on anyone they play in the playoffs.
The dream matchup I would be interested in seeing would be Tampa Bay. Arizona has no immediate geographic rival right down the road, nor do they have a historic rival built over decades.
The reason I chose the Rays is because it would be fun to see Justin and B.J. Upton playing against each other. These are two young stars and as brothers, it would be exciting to watch the two compete.
Boston Red Sox
David Ortiz in his home run trot
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The Boston Red Sox dream matchup is the New York Yankees. These two teams have met in the playoffs in recent history and each series has been epic.
Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon lead a formidable Red Sox team. I do not see them catching the Yankees for the division title, nor do I see them losing their hold on the wild card to the Rays.
The rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees is unparalleled in the American League and it's entirely possible these two teams could play in the ALCS. What fun it would be to see the aging Yankees with Jeter, A Rod, Cano, Teixeira, Sabathia and Rivera facing the Red Sox for a chance to go to the World Series, one more time.
With all due respect to Tampa Bay, who trails the Red Sox by three games in the wild card chase, the Boston - New York rivalry trumps anything we could think of for the Rays.
Justin Verlander is a Cy Young candidate
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The city of Detroit is arguably the most economically desolate big city in the country. Due to the contraction of the US auto industry, unemployment, abandoned buildings and slums abound in this once thriving city.
The ray of sunshine in this otherwise dismal city is the Detroit Tigers. Justin Verlander is a top Cy Young candidate and the most exciting pitcher in the American League. The Tigers' offense is led by Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Magglio Ordonez.
For the dream matchup, I have selected the St. Louis Cardinals. These two clubs have history with the Tigers of Al Kaline facing the great Bob Gibson of the Cardinals.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals will not make the playoffs, but just imagine one thing. It would be well worth the price of admission to see Albert Pujols come to bat four times against Justin Verlander.
Nolan Ryan is a living legend
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The Texas Rangers were in the World Series in 2010, only to lose to the San Francisco Giants. The Rangers currently lead the Angels by three games in the AL West and my bet is on them to again win the division and make the playoffs.
Texas is led by a strong offense with Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler and Michael Young. Their dream matchup would be against the Philadelphia Phillies.
I would enjoy seeing these feared hitters up against the likes of Halladay, Lee and Hamels. In 2010, the pitching of the Giants, led by Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner and Wilson shut down the Rangers.
It would be interesting to once again see if "good pitching beats good hitting."
New York Yankees
Curtis Granderson is having a monster year
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The New York Yankees are once again at the top of the AL East and heading to the playoffs. The Yankees with Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia and Mariano Rivera are beginning to show their age, but are primed for another run at the world championship.
The dream matchup for the Yankees would have to be the San Francisco Giants. Prior to the Giants moving to San Francisco in 1958, these two teams, along with the Brooklyn Dodgers, were battling for the loyalties of the fans of New York.
The last time the Yankees and Giants met in the World Series was in 1962. The Yankees won that series by the barest of margins. In the ninth inning, with the Giants trailing by one run and Matty Alou on first base, Willie Mays came to the plate with two outs.
Mays lashed a line drive down the right field line. As Alou raced around the bases, the right fielder cut the ball off and threw it back to the infield. Alou was held at third and Mays had a double.
Willie McCovey was the next hitter and drilled a line drive that was snared by second baseman Bobby Richardson to end the game and the series. Had that ball been a foot higher of to the right, both Alou and Mays would have scored and the Giants would have won their first World Series in San Francisco.
The rain that drenched the field prior this game slowed the ball up so the right fielder was able to cut it off before it reached the fence. That would have enabled Alou to easily score the tying run.
Mays has often stated that had he been the base runner, he "would have scored some kinda way." In a twist of fate, the man who hit that ball also would have had to be the base runner, enabling the Giants to score.
Had McCovey's line drive gone through and the Giants won the World Series, there is no telling how many more championships Mays and McCovey would have won together. Sometimes it just takes that one breakthrough and the flood gates open.
A Yankees - Giants World Series would bring back memories of 1962. It would also be very exciting as we would get to see the stellar Giants' pitching of Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner and Wilson face Granderson, Teixeira, Jeter, Cano and A Rod.
Bring on the Postseason
NL Cy Young contender Roy Halladay leads the Phillies' rotation
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The 2011 postseason is less than three weeks away. We will see some perennial playoff teams, such as the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and Braves. There will also be some teams that haven't been to the postseason in a long time, in the Brewers, Diamondbacks and Tigers.
The postseason promises to be exciting and compelling. We will see some excellent teams and great personal battles. Bring it on!