It’s the beginning of the MLB season and everyone has hope. It’s a strange thing, this hope: almost a delusional mindset of what could be, an escape from the grim truth, but also provides enough fuel to keep alive the absurd belief that your team could win the World Series. Spoiler Alert: 20 fan bases are going to be severely disappointed this year.
Come playoff time, 10 franchises have a chance though. Anything can happen in October, but a team needs to first get to that Wild Card matchup in order to prove they belong. On a quick side note (it may not be that quick), I wish there was a petition to sign to argue the fact that six teams from both the AL and the NL should be given postseason births, the best two teams in each league receive byes, each first series being a quick 5-game set, and from thenceforth the rest remains as is. I’m just saying out of the major sports leagues, baseball players play by far the most games and have the least amount of playoff spots. I guess if there isn't a petition then I could start one, but I'll be honest, I'm just too lazy to do so at the moment. It's seems like a lot of work, and drinking beer and eating hot dogs is a lot easier.
On the contrary, more teams fighting down the stretch means more excitement and it assures fans that they are seeing the best of the best in the playoffs and not some Cinderella team who won’t be back in the postseason for another few decades.
On the contrary to the contrary, it creates parody and offers, well, hope. So get ready for the adrenaline rushes, the frantic trade deadline, teams to start renting players in a few months, and tears of sadness and joy. We’re only 162 games away from the madness, get it together. If you can't wait, here’s what will happen in October.
18 AL WILD CARD GAME: New York Yankees at Seattle Mariners
That’s right, they’re back, and no one thought it would be so soon. The worst part about all of this – outside of the New York fan base, of course – is that the Yankees are probably going to once again be good for a while considering their farm system. Speaking of, I wouldn’t be surprised if they used some of that farm system to trade for a player like Manny Machado during the playoff push because the Baltimore Orioles will struggle down the stretch and believe it is time to throw in the towel and rebuild for another 30 years. It’s a win-win, the O’s wouldn’t have been able to afford him in 2018 and the Yankees were probably going to sign him in the offseason anyway. On the other side of the plate, the Seattle Mariners finally – finally! – lived up to their potential and earned home field for this win-or-go-home game. Obviously if they lose then they don’t have to travel very far.
17 WINNER: Seattle Mariners
However, they don’t lose. If you’re the Seattle Mariners and have only one game to win, then it’s obvious who you put on the mound: Felix Hernandez. If you’re the New York Yankees and have only one game to win, then it’s obvious who you don’t want to be on the mound: Felix Hernandez. It will be a close one, and there won’t be a lot of runs scored, but a late RBI double by Robinson Cano or an early solo shot by Nelson Cruz or Kyle Seager will provide enough run support for King Felix. 3-1, 2-1, 2-0, anything of that sort going into the top of the ninth will be sufficient because Hernandez will either finish it himself, or a closer – season starter or recently acquired – can handle the Yankees’ lineup. I’m sure Seattle fans probably didn’t think it would take this long to get to this point, but they’re officially in the playoffs, and their reward: a five-game series (if needed) against the Boston Red Sox.
16 NL WILD CARD GAME: Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals
This old song and dance again. Classic franchises just seem to clash in the playoffs. The St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers will battle for home field advantage for the Wild Card game throughout the season. There will be some other noise makers such as the Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins, and New York Mets for a majority of the year, but considering the Cardinals and Dodgers will post records good enough to win a division, it will be too much for any of those teams to overtake a playoff spot. The location of the game will be dependent on whether the Cincinnati Reds or San Diego Padres will be worse. My guess: the Reds. Why does this matter? Each of these teams plays each of those teams in their respective division six times from September on. There’s a better chance the Padres will steal a game or two from the Dodgers than the Reds doing so against the Cardinals. Maybe – you never know with these awful teams bringing up minor leaguers who major league pitchers have never faced and they end up being unstoppable and ruining lives.
15 WINNER: Los Angeles Dodgers
In the end, it doesn’t matter. The Los Angeles Dodgers will win. They made it to the NLCS last year, they’re younger, and they still have this guy named Clayton Kershaw. The only difference between 2017 and years past is that the ace will have more run support in important games. Plus, he’s healthy and more experienced. Don’t be surprised if he wins the Cy Young again as well. It will be a good game, but the Dodgers should pull away toward the end, maybe earning some runs off the Cardinals’ bullpen while Kershaw goes seven-plus to eight innings, handing the ball over to the closer with a two or three run lead in the ninth. The Dodgers win 5-2 or 5-3 and prepare for an NLCS rematch against the Chicago Cubs. Man, remember the good old days when you just had to play the San Diego Padres? Remember the good old days when the Padres were actually, well, good? Yeah, I kind of forgot about that too.
14 ALDS: Seattle Mariners at Boston Red Sox
A cross-country trip, a rested host, a hostile crowd. The Seattle Mariners have a lot going against them in the series. The Boston Red Sox earn the AL’s best record, dominating the league for the majority of the season. They convincingly win the AL East with the New York Yankees finishing second, but nearly 10 games behind, and they do it with great pitching and great offense. The Mariners are not to be overlooked in this situation though; they have power and Fenway Park is fun to hit the ball out of. It’s not going to be a cakewalk for the Red Sox despite what their over-confident fans believe – and before Bostonians bring it up, the answer is no, Tom Brady won’t be available for the MLB postseason because the New England Patriots will be trying to already wrap up their division in October. This is turning out to be yet another good year for Boston sports and it hasn’t even started yet.
13 WINNER: Boston Red Sox (3-1)
With all that being said, the Seattle Mariners steal game one in Boston against David Price. Then the Red Sox win the next three, including in Safeco against Felix Hernandez. In fact, none of these games are close, even the Mariners’ victory. Seattle will arrive, loose from their Wild Card win, and the Red Sox will be rusty because they’ve pretty much had half of September and beyond off considering they had a firm grip on the division title for quite some time. Then reality will set in and the baseball world will once again be balanced. Rick Porcello and Chris Sale have amazing outings on the mound in games two and three, and then Drew Pomeranz or Eduardo Rodriguez close out the series behind their big bats and huge run support. Eesh, what a staff to face. Time for the Red Sox to rest again and be better prepared for the ALCS.
12 NLDS: Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs
You know that Eiffel 65 song, “Blue?” Well, before I started writing this section it popped in my head, and now I can’t make the beat stop. Honestly, I had to watch that weird alien music video they produced to solve the issue. Anyway, obviously that has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that both these teams have blue uniforms. Damn, there’s the song again. This will be a great rematch of what was a great NLCS just a year ago. Each team has young and old fire power at the plate, and great pitching staffs. Though the Los Angeles Dodgers were a Wild Card team, they played like a division leader for most of the year, but the Chicago Cubs once again ran away with the NL’s best record. Losing Dexter Fowler wasn’t a big deal at all it would appear. All we know is that one team will be left feeling blue. See what I did there? I know, it was lame.
11 WINNER: Chicago Cubs (3-2)
I’m going to say this series goes the full five games, each team losing once at home. The Los Angeles Dodgers are a good team, they could easily beat the Chicago Cubs twice, but it will be incredibly difficult to beat the defending champs three times; especially considering Game 5 will be at Wrigley Field. Clayton Kershaw will be exhausted, Jon Lester will be working off the crowd’s energy, and the non-curse will continue with a pretty sizable win of three or four runs. The Cubs World Series championship wasn’t just some storybook fluke to end a curse; this is a very good team, and now that they know what it’s like to win, they’re going to be very difficult to dethrone. The Dodgers gave their best effort, but they fell short once again and the window continues to close for their chance to bring glory back to Los Angeles. There’s little room for error in baseball. Oh, and maybe an error or two will be the Dodgers’ demise this time around.
10 ALDS: Houston Astros at Cleveland Indians
I don’t want to ruin anything for the rest of the postseason, but this will most likely be the most entertaining series to watch. Kind of. Well, maybe not. Both the Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians will win their divisions – the Astros having a more challenging time doing so with the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers nipping at their cleats for most of the year. Houston will rely on the bat this year, but they will pick up some pitching pieces at the trade deadline to help them clinch the division and make some noise in the playoffs. The Indians add a bat, like brining Jose Bautista over from Toronto to join his old and new-again teammate Edwin Encarnacion or some other big name on a team who has an awful year like the Tampa Bay Rays or Atlanta Braves. Evan Longoria? Freddie Freeman? We just don’t know, but something will be done. Which team will it help the most?
9 WINNER: Houston Astros (3-0)
I’m in on the Houston Astros this year. This team is young, and that infield is amazing. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman will lead the way for the Astros, and you know what, I’m going to say it, they’re going to sweep the Cleveland Indians. Told you it wouldn't actually be the most entertaining series. They will steal the Dallas Keuchel vs. Corey Kluber matchup in Game 1. It won’t be offensively pretty, but it will be a win nonetheless. The other two games, Andrew Miller won’t become a factor because the Astros will take early leads, concluding with a dominating Game 3 performance. Like 6-1 or 8-2 or something like that. The crowd will be rocking and the team will be flying. I also think it’s safe to say that Evan Gattis will hit a homerun over the train tracks during this game, maybe even break a window while he’s at it. I’m telling you, I’m in on the Astros this year. Well, for this series at least.
8 NLDS: Washington Nationals at San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants threw off their routine last year. They’re supposed to win during every even year like they have been. Well, they didn’t, and we’re lucky the world didn’t fall apart. On the other hand, the Washington Nationals once again didn’t do anything in the playoffs to balance out the baseball world. Could you imagine: the Giants not winning the World Series and the Nationals winning a series? Eesh, start stocking up on canned goods. Thankfully, it didn’t happen. However, something has to give eventually, right? I mean if the Chicago Cubs can win a World Series, anything can really happen. The Nationals commanded their division to get to this point, but it was fairly weak with the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. The Giants had a tougher test throughout the year because the West was better across the board. With that being said, it’s obvious who will win this series.
7 WINNER: Washington Nationals (3-1)
The Washington Nationals. That wasn’t obvious? I thought it was. Okay, it wasn’t, but the Nationals are on a mission this year. First, they need to prove everyone wrong. Second, Bryce Harper wants to get paid. Both will happen. The Nationals will beat the San Francisco Giants in four games, winning the first by the Bay and taking both in the District. If Donald Trump became president, then anything is possible in D.C. Harper will have a great series, the starting pitching will be difficult to earn runs off of, and role players will come up big in the clutch. Critics will be silenced, doubt will disappear, and Bryce Harper will grow out his beard and look like a stylish homeless person. Everything will be fantastic, until a couple days later when they have to meet the Chicago Cubs. This could be Harper’s last hoorah with Washington because they probably can’t afford him unless the government raises taxes or dips into all those funds they don’t have.
6 ALCS: Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox
Remember when I said I was in on the Houston Astros? Cool. Well, I still am, and this is the real test. I know that the Cleveland Indians were in the World Series last year and had a great season, but the Boston Red Sox are the more dominate team in the AL. The Astros will be flying high off a sweep of the Indians, but on the other hand, the Red Sox will be confident after their series win against the Seattle Mariners. Also, they will be more prepared for any Game 1 mishaps. Giving a dangerous team what would essentially be a handicap is not the best strategy. Of course, no team sets out to provide their opponent with opportunities, and most of the time wins are earned by the other team, but any missed location on a pitch, any error in the field, and any bad swing can open a door for an underdog to take advantage of. These guys are all professionals; they know what they’re doing and how to exploit mistakes.
5 WINNER: Boston Red Sox (4-2)
Remember when I said I was in on the Houston Astros for the second time? Cool again. Well, I was, and maybe if the Seattle Mariners had upended the Boston Red Sox in their ALDS matchup the story would be different, but beating Boston four out of seven times is quite difficult. The series will be good, but it won’t go seven games. Maybe five or six close matchups, the Astros working incredibly hard to mustard out a win or two, but the Red Sox just have too much fire power and a better pitching staff across the board. Don’t get me wrong, the Astros have both those things, but when your fourth or fifth starter can go and give you a solid outing instead of relying on what basically is a three-man rotation for the most intense games of the year, it gives you a bit of an advantage. A great season in Houston, but a better team in Boston.
4 NLCS: Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs
This is more like Bryce Harper against the Chicago Cubs. Of course the Washington Nationals have a great team, but we all know how the media gets. The constant analysis of whether or not Harper can get the job done, if he’s doing everything he can for his team or if he’s just concentrating on next year’s contract, or if he has the toughness and mentality to win a World Series. This is a very intriguing series though if you take into account every player on the each team. Offensively, the Cubs may have the edge, but just by a slim margin. From a pitching standpoint, I would say at this time of the year, they’re just about equal. The winner of the NLCS will have earned it with a team effort and taking advantage of the faults of their opponent. It’s going to be close, but can Harper overcome the pressure?
3 WINNER: Chicago Cubs (4-3)
Yes and no. Yes: he has a great series. No: The Chicago Cubs still win the NLCS for a chance to repeat as champions. In fact, everyone is going to have a great series and it’s going to go the full seven games. Most games will be close, perhaps each get a sizable home win, but it’s going to be nail-biting, adrenaline-rushing, non-stop fun. Wrigley Field will be going crazy, and D.C. will match the intensity. In a year in which the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals had great home seasons in the spring, the fandom will filter over to the ballpark. The Cubs just have too much experience and confidence now from last year’s run. The most important part of this series though is that Bryce Harper will play well enough to get the media off his back for the time being… until they start saying, “You just received $400 million and the only thing that makes you worth that much money is if you win a 20 World Series.”
2 WORLD SERIES: Boston Red Sox at Chicago Cubs
This was the dream matchup last year, but it didn’t happen. Now we have it: a classic World Series between two storied franchises, both breaking their respective curses this century. I’m pretty sure Theo Epstein can just put his feet up and relax as he watches these two teams face off. He was/is the mastermind for both, one of the most important and successful individuals in the history of baseball, not just the modern era. Put him in the Hall of Fame now! You can pretty much toss a coin to predict this one. Both teams are so evenly matched, and this World Series is of epic proportions. The pitching will be great, the bats will respond equally to the challenge, the managers will execute the game plan, and it will just come down to pure talent and toughness. It’s going to take a lot to top last year’s World Series, but let’s just say that happens.
1 WORLD SERIES CHAMPION: Boston Red Sox (4-3)
I’m going to project the dream result (depending on where you live of course): all seven games have a differential of one run, with a couple of them being extra-inning walk-offs. Wow! Can you imagine the madness? The drama? To be really specific, I say the Boston Red Sox win Game 7 and the World Series on a walk off double my Dustin Pedroia at Fenway Park. Okay, it’s getting out of control at the moment. However, if I’m right, then I’m immediately going to Las Vegas the day after or opening a hole-in-the-wall Psychic business – walk-ins welcome. It’s going to be the icing on the cake to an amazing season where both these teams battled for the best record in the league since April’s opening weekend – which isn’t that far away, ladies and gentlemen. Of course, all this could be terribly wrong, but that’s why I’ve yet to apply for my Psychic business license. These projections make sense though if you think about it. You have an entire summer to sit back, relax, and watch everything unfold. Life is good… in Boston especially.