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Second Season :: Round 2 :: Day 1

I haven't really said anything about the playoffs, probably because, so far, it seems as though the 2006 White Sox would have been just as likely as any of the 8 teams to take home the crown. That's hard to take.

I thought the Tigers late season swoon spelled doom in the playoffs, and for the first 14 innings that notion appeared as if it would be true. Had they not comeback against Mussina, I doubt that they would have put up much of a fight the rest of the series.

Much like the White Sox had a weight lifted off of them when they finally clinched the division, the Tigers seem much more at ease and driven since that rally against Mussina. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they ran through the rest of the playoffs. They seem to be following right in the '05 White Sox' low-OBP, high SLG, great pitching blueprint for post-season success.

As for the A's, well, I picked them to win it all when the Sox were still tearing up a Houston Hotel ballroom. I think the series rests on a few things, Rich Harden's health being the most important. The A's can't afford to give a game away with a completely ineffective starter.

They may have some advantage in that Leyland will start Nate Robertson in game 1, as they a good hitting, very patient team against LHP. Macha will be forced to use a less-than-optimal defensive alignment against Robertson with Mark Ellis out and Kotsay probably taking a seat in favor of Kielty.

If I was Leyland, I would be pushing back Robertson to game 4. He's been more reliant on excellent defense more than any other starter in the Tiger rotation, and didn't inspire much confidence with his game 1 start in Yankee stadium. Rogers and Verlander have received a big boost from the Tigers excellent defense too, but they have magic pixie dust and 100 MPH heat, respectively, to fall back on. I do think too much is being made of Kenny Rogers' dominance over the A's. An 11-3 record with a 4.77 ERA is dominance, its poor pitching by the A's.

The best part of the post-season thus far was watching Justin Morneau and the Twins get swept. I've never hated the Twins; never had any reason to do so. I'm slowly coming around though.

There has been a culture brewing for some time up there in the Land of Frozen Lakes, a culture of inferiority that permeates through the greater Minneapolis media that has taken hold with the Twins and their fans alike.

My general apathy towards the Twins started to change late last season when Santana mysteriously came up with a blister and was pushed back so that he would face the Sox twice in September. Back then the Twins were in denial mode; they wouldn't admit that they wanted anyone but the White Sox in the playoffs. Mr. Morneau didn't feel the need to be so sly this year. He came right out and said it.

The Sox will never harbor the malevolence that the Twins seem to breed in their farm system and clubhouse, but they will always be shooting for more than 'anybody but the Twins.' That's the type of attitude that has you three-and-out in the playoffs.

I'm glad I'm a fan of the team that shoots for the big prize.

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Update [2006-10-10 16:39:9 by The Cheat]: It took me about 30 minutes to type this rambling piece, during which Wiz posted this. I didn't want it to disappear, so I combined the two.

Mark Gonzales says Detroit in Six.

BTW, according to an AP report the Seibu Lions will indeed post 26 year old RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Matzusaka was 17-5 with a 2.13ERA this season in Japan. Here's a brief overview of MLB's posting process.