Friday, October 14, 2016

Joey's Soapbox: My 2016 Somewhat Biased LCS Picks

Is this one of the All-You-Can-Eat seating areas at Dodger Stadium?

What's going on, everyone?  It's me, Joey Beartran, and I'm back to give you my thoughts on who should win the upcoming League Championship Series for both the American and National Leagues.

If you gambled and went with my American League Division Series picks, I apologize for you being broke right now.  But then again, you're the one who took the advice of a teddy bear wearing a Mets hoodie, so what does that say about you for taking the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox to advance to the next round?  Now, if you had put money on my National League Division Series picks only, then I'd be expecting a small commission fee in the next few days for correctly choosing the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs to make it to the NLCS.  And by commission, I mean everything on the Shake Shack menu.

So now we're down to baseball's Final Four, as the aforementioned Dodgers and Cubs will square off for the National League pennant, while the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians will face each other for the championship of the American League.  Incredibly, none of these four teams has won a World Series since the leagues split up into three divisions back in 1994.  And even more astonishing is that the Blue Jays are the most recent World Series champion (taking the title in 1993) after ending baseball's longest postseason drought just one season ago.

Who will advance to this year's Fall Classic?  Which cities' fan bases will be shouting, "Wait 'till next year!", for the umpteenth consecutive season?  And where the heck is my Shake Shack commission payment?  The answers to most of those questions will be revealed right here, right now.

American League Championship Series

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cleveland Indians

The last time the Cleveland Indians appeared in a World Series, Chumbawamba was still a month away from Tubthumping their way to the Top Ten.  The last time the Tribe won it all, none of the members of Chumbawamba had been born yet.

It's been 68 years since Cleveland was the home of baseball's champions, or the same number of years that the Boston Red Sox had gone without winning a title when Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell, Ray Knight and a little roller up along first all became part of the same sentence in 1986.  In other words, there are some septuagenarians out there who are too young to remember Cleveland's triumph in the 1948 World Series over the Boston Braves.  That's right, the Braves played in Boston back then, which was before they moved to Milwaukee and before they headed to Atlanta, where they've now been stationed for half a century.

Only one member of the 1948 Indians is still alive, which in all honesty is one more than I expected there to be.  So what does that have to do with this year's ALCS?  Nothing, really.  Other than the fact that the final member of the '48 Tribe will have to stay with us for at least another year if he's going to celebrate Cleveland's first championship since before rock n' roll existed.

Cleveland may have the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame, but Toronto will have the William Harridge Trophy in about a week or so.  The Blue Jays will club Corey Kluber (5.34 ERA, 1.67 WHIP in five career starts against Toronto) and will tower over Trevor Bauer.  (Well, Bauer has actually been pretty decent against the Blue Jays in two career appearances, but I really wanted to use the tower/Bauer rhyme there, so...)

The last time Toronto played in the World Series in 1993, Canadian legend Alex Trebek still had his mustache.  Cleveland's nearly seven-decade run of championship futility is in no jeopardy of ending this year.

Prediction:  Blue Jays in 6.

Sorry, Cleveland, but Indians fans will be chugging potent potables after this series concludes.

National League Championship Series

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs

The Cubs should be salivating right now.  After all, Kenley Jansen threw 51 pitches in Game Five of the Division Series and Clayton Kershaw threw a thousand pitches in Game Four before recording the save in Game Five.

There is no reason for anyone to pick the Dodgers over the Cubs in the NLCS.  But the Dodgers may have the secret weapon they need to upset the heavily favored Cubbies.

Let's go back in time to the 1970s.  That's when the Dodgers began trotting out their steady infield quartet of Ron Cey at third, Bill Russell at short, Davey Lopes at second ... and a first baseman named Steve Garvey.  The four infielders played together for nearly nine full seasons - the longest run in major league history - and won four National League pennants and one World Series championship in 1981.  Three years after the Dodgers broke up their long-lasting infield, Steve Garvey returned to the postseason as a member of the San Diego Padres.

Garvey batted .400 in the five-game 1984 NLCS.  With the Padres facing elimination, Garvey went 4-for-5 with five RBI in Game Four, which included a walk-off two-run homer against the best closer in the game.  He then drove in the final run in the deciding fifth game, just three batters after a costly error by his counterpart at first base opened the floodgates for San Diego.

For his efforts, Garvey was named the 1984 NLCS Most Valuable Player.  Who did he and his teammates defeat to advance to the World Series?  That would be the Chicago Cubs.

The Curse of the Billy Goat might have kept the Cubs out of the Fall Classic since 1945, but that goat said bah-bah to the world a long time ago.  Steve Garvey is still alive.  And he was a Dodger for 14 seasons and a Cubs killer for one amazing postseason run.  If the Dodgers bring Garvey back for an epic troll job (and perhaps a ceremonial first pitch), the Cubs won't know what hit them.

The Cubs have the talent.  They have the pitching.  They have the hitting.  They have the better manager.  They have more rest.  But they don't have Steve Garvey.

Prediction:  Dodgers in 7.

The curse of Steve Garvey > The Curse of the Billy Goat (Collage by Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus; Getty Images)

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