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Post-Division Series Points

The Cardinals are back in the NLCS, where they are about to meet their maker in the form of the New York Mets. I wasn’t completely convinced that St. Louis had simply shaken off their collective blackout at the end of the regular season until I saw Tony La Russa give Chris Carpenter the nod in Game 4 last night against San Diego. By doing so he sent a clear message: with the Jeff’s (Weaver and Suppan) posing as playoff-number two and three starters, it was just plain silly to look down the line at a possible fourth starter. Had to go right back to the top. Couldn’t put his faith in Jason Marquis or Albert Pujols or the hometown faithful.

Okay, the move paid off. Carpenter rebounded from a rocky first inning against the Padres and clinched the series for his ball club. He did what aces do: win a big game. Problem is, the next big game he appears in will not be until Game 3 of the NLCS. It could’ve been Game 1, if La Russa had a ounce of faith in any of the aforementioned entities. But he didn’t. He witnessed first hand the colossal implosion of his corps a few weeks ago, and obviously deemed advancing to a third consecutive League Championship Series a sufficient success.

In the interest of speaking directly: the Cards have no chance of winning a game not started by Carpenter against the Mets. Since his slated second start would be for a Game 7, it’s safe to say that the Mets clinch the NL pennant in 5, and rest up for the World Series while the A’s and Tigers duke it out in a long series…

Speaking of those destroyers from Detroit…how bout them Yanks?!? No honestly, props to the Tigers. That squad clearly responded to the naysayers a la the White Sox of last year by thoroughly dominating a team that most (yours truly included) believed would be bashing all the way to the AL pennant. Now the Yankees are headed to the showers, another October minus glory.

Obviously more is being written about the Yankees than any of the remaining playoff teams. There is lots of speculation that Joe Torre is headed out; lots of debate over whether A-Rod can ever show his face in the Bronx again. Jim Caple even dared to suggest that the Yankees trade Jeter and move A-Rod to short. Yeah, and maybe the Patriots will trade Tom Brady if they lose a few more playoff games. Hogwash. But hey, with a philosophical structure as warped as the one exercised by this present version of the New York Yankees, maybe they should just cut out the heart of the beast.

Yeah, and then that beast will bleed all over the Bronx. So in the name of preventing bloodshed, let’s quell the “trade-Jeter” talk…

As for the ALCS, this is a series I’m having a lot of trouble getting a read on. Detroit’s near-stellar starting pitching, coupled with their ability to consistently have good at bats and hit the ball out of the park, has been impressive. With Joel Zumaya throwing hand grenades in the forms of weaponized-fastballs to opposing hitters in the seventh and/or eighth innings, the Tigers appear to have a sound formula for success…

I’m kind of reeling because I still haven’t totally grasped the fact that Oakland won a series-clinching game for the first time in my cognitive life. The A’s are a team that has always been constructed for a long series; they’ve just never been able to get to a seven game series. Now that they are there with Rich Harden seemingly in midseason shape, they’re going to be tough to beat. Because both the Tigers and A’s are peaking at the right time, the ultimate advantage once again swings back to the Mets, who will have to go into either Detroit or Oakland to begin the World Series, but with less tribulations in their rear view…

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