Friday, October 5, 2012

Joey's Soapbox: My Biased 2012 Wild Card Game Picks

What an unusual season it's been so far.  The Philadelphia Phillies and the Miami Marlins were expected to ride their high payrolls into October.  Neither team finished with a winning record.  Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland A's were supposed to kneel before Zod (and by Zod, I mean the Yankees and Rangers).  Instead, they competed with New York and Texas throughout the entire season and were rewarded with two unexpected playoff berths.

Of the ten teams in this year's postseason party, two of them (Texas and Washington) have never won a World Series.  Four others (Baltimore, Detroit, Oakland, Cincinnati) have gone more than 20 years since they last celebrated with the trophy, while the Braves have only won one title since moving to Atlanta in 1966.  The other three teams in this year's playoffs have won each of the last three World Series, with the Yankees buying the title in 2009, the Giants finally winning their first crown by the Bay in 2010 and the Cardinals coming from out of nowhere to take it all last year.

But the World Series is still three weeks away.  For today, I'd like to focus on Friday's wild card games.  Are you ready for some playoff baseball?  Here are my very biased predictions for the 2012 wild card games.

American League Wild Card Game

Baltimore Orioles vs. Texas Rangers

This is the toughest game for me to pick, considering I want both teams to knock off the Yankees in the ALDS.  Prior to Opening Day, I thought Texas would win their third consecutive American League pennant and finally finish the season hoisting the World Series trophy.  Then came the little engine that could in Baltimore and now I'm torn.

Do I go against my preseason pick and choose the feel-good story from Charm City?  Or do I continue to go for Nolan Ryan's team until he finally gets his first World Series ring that doesn't say New York Mets on it?

Decisions, decisions.

Well, since I can't pick both teams, I'll go with ... Textimore.  No, wait.  That sounds like a rejected slogan for the latest smartphone.  The winner of the game will be Balxas.  No, that's not right either.  In fact, I have no idea how I'd even pronounce that

Fine, the Orioles will win.  Why?  Because Jeffrey Maier will not be in attendance at the Ballpark in Arlington to help defeat the O's.  We all know he's the only reason Baltimore failed to go to the World Series in 1996...

National League Wild Card Game

St. Louis vs. Atlanta

Chipper Jones has had an amazing career in the big leagues, one that has him on course for Cooperstown.  That being said, after Friday night's game against the Cardinals, that opening sentence will read "Chipper Jones HAD an amazing career in the big leagues" because his days as an active player will end after St. Louis wins.

In 2011, the Cardinals came from nowhere to stun the Braves, taking the wild card and riding their September momentum all the way to the World Series championship.  Without question, the Braves are looking to exact some modicum of revenge against the Redbirds.  But "Braves" and "revenge" go together like CC Sabathia and tofu.

For example...

The Braves lost to the Yankees in the 1996 World Series.  When they played them again in the Fall Classic three years later, they lost again.  NO REVENGE FOR YOU!  In 2004, the Braves fell to the Astros in the NLDS.  One year later, the two teams met again for the right to go to the NLCS.  Different year, same result.  NO REVENGE FOR YOU!  A few years before that, in 2002, the Braves lost to the Giants in the division series.  Then from 2006 to 2009, the Braves failed to make the playoffs each year.  When they finally returned to the postseason in 2010, the Giants were waiting for them again.  Do I need to tell you who won the series?  NO REVENGE FOR YOU!

So give us a good reason to pick the Braves to defeat the Cardinals on Friday, especially after their collapse to St. Louis in 2011.  I triple dog dare you.

The Cardinals have the Braves licked in the wild card game.

Please join me tomorrow when I give you my picks for all four division series.  Will there be some surprises with my picks?  Probably.  Will they be very biased?  Definitely!

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