We’re less than a week into the 2012 baseball postseason and, well, where do we even begin? How about “Wild Card Friday,” wherein the Texas Rangers’ sure-fire World Championship run and Chipper Jones’ Hall of Fame career both ended more abruptly than the final Sopranos episode?
While there’s no question that the pennant races were spiced up by the addition of a second wild card team, the “one and done” format of the wild card playoff left a bad taste in a lot of peoples’ mouths, as did umpire Sam Holbrook’s controversial infield fly rule call in the Braves-Cardinals game – a call which resulted in a 20-minute game delay as groundskeepers scrambled to pick up the garbage hurled onto the field by irate Braves fans. (Then again, it only took one game for the Orioles to spare us the annual postseason sight of George W. Bush yukking it up behind the Rangers’ dugout, so perhaps there was an upside to the new format after all.)
As of this writing, the Division Series have given us outstanding pitching performances from Justin Verlander and C.C. Sabathia (of whom we expected as much) and from Bronson Arroyo (of whom we expected little), as well as the odd spectacles of N.L. Cy Young candidate Gio Gonzalez suddenly struggling with his control and former NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum being relegated to the bullpen.
We’ve seen the Reds and Cardinals win games despite losing starting pitchers Johnny Cueto and Jamie Garcia to injury and illness. We’ve seen the legendary Ichiro Suzuki avoid a tag at the plate with moves worthy of a Soul Train line. We’ve seen wunder-hype Bryce Harper tagged out at third on a play involving what has to have been the lamest throw of Matt Holliday’s career. And we’ve seen Al Alburquerque kiss a Yoenis Cespedes comebacker before tossing it to first, a move that so outraged the A’s – a team otherwise renowned for its youthful exuberance – you’d have thought the Tigers reliever had actually pulled down Cespedes’ pants on the basepath and planted one right on his jockstrap.
What’s next? How will this October madness end? I’m dreaming of a Tigers-Reds World Series – y’know, where Detroit finally avenges Bobo Newsom’s one-run loss to Cincinnati in Game Seven of the 1940 Series – but clearly anything is possible at this point. This week, we’re asking our esteemed panel of rock & roll seamheads to gaze into their crystal baseballs and give us their postseason predictions.
Name: Steve Wynn
Band: The Baseball Project
Position: Vocals, Guitar
Full disclosure – I’m writing this about two hours past deadline, which means that we’re already two games into the first round of the playoffs, which means I might be picking teams I may not have picked a couple of days ago. And, yeah, I might have picked the Giants for the Series and, yeah, by the time you read this they may have come back from 0-2 to beat the Reds. But I’m going to play it safe and say that the Yankees will beat the Reds in six, with Pettitte picking up two wins and getting the MVP for the World Series, just for old time’s sake.
Name: Handsome Dick Manitoba
Yankees and Tigers in the ALCS . . . Yankees win. Cincy and Wash in the NLCS . . . Cincy wins. And then the Yanks beat Cincy in the World Series, just like ’61!
Name: Pete Yorn
Position: Vocals, Guitar
I will start off by saying . . . gamblers BEWARE. This year more, than any other that I can remember, is so balanced that any playoff team can go all the way. I can’t call this one. I will be rooting for the Yankees. There are some great stories there . . . It would be nice to see a guy like Ichiro get a ring. If that happens, maybe he can talk his buddy King Felix into coming on over. If the Tigers’ pitchers are all healthy, they are scary, but I won’t go againt my Yanks. Never!
I think it will be the Nationals and the Yankees in the World Series, and the team with the best pitching will win it all.
Name: Scott Ian
The A’s were the hottest team going into the playoffs, but the season doesn’t matter anymore. It’s about which team plays well now. I’d love to see NY vs. SF. That would rule, and of course I’ll go with NY in six.
Name: Ken Casey
Band: Dropkick Murphys
Position: Bass guitar, Vocals
Washington and Baltimore in the World Series. How can you not root for that to happen? I like Washington to win it.
Name: Scott McCaughey
Band: The Baseball Project, The Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows
Position: Guitar, Vocals
Cincinnati in six games over the Yankees. But in the words of Randy Newman, “I’ve been wrong before.”
Dan Epstein’s book, Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging ’70s, is now available in paperback.