Wednesday, October 06, 2004

October Conflicts

We here at Respectful of Otters are having much more trouble deciding what to watch on TV this season than you would ordinarily expect for a political blogger. This is Presidential Debate season, full of exciting head-to-head contests between Bush and Kerry, Cheney and Edwards. It's the final countdown to the election, and commentators - even part-time, amateur commentators like me - have no business taking their eyes off the ball even for a minute.

But this is also the baseball postseason, and we here at Respectful of Otters are the kind of people who reschedule the observance of their own birthday to ensure that it falls on a World Series off day.[1]

So I watched about half of the Cheney-Edwards debate last night - the foreign policy half - and then switched back to the Minnesota Twins' thrilling 2-0 defeat of the hated New York Yankees.

I was hoping to be wowed by Edwards, and I wasn't. But I think he held his own in the foreign policy section, and I enjoyed watching him use his rhetorical skills to keep Cheney's feet in the fire - without diminishing any of his own charm. (I guess trial lawyers get a lot of practice at that.) It looks like undecided voters were pleased with Edwards as well.

I was hoping to be wowed by Johan Santana's pitching, and I kind of was. He didn't have his killer changeup last night - apparently it was just too cold in Yankee Stadium - and he allowed a lot of baserunners. But it's hard to argue with a shutout of the team with the best winning percentage in baseball.

Here are my predictions:

In the ALDS, Boston beats Anaheim and Minnesota beats New York. Anaheim did a phenomenal job down the stretch, but their offense can be summed up in two words: Vladimir Guerrero. Boston's talent pool goes much deeper. I know that the Yankees have some sort of creepy playoff juju - George Steinbrenner must sacrifice goats, or something - but they just don't have the starting pitching this year.

Over in the National League, I think St. Louis is untouchable. They'll blow past the Dodgers without appearing to break a sweat. The Braves will manage to beat the Astros despite having sold off virtually every one of their best players. Chipper Jones and J.D. Drew will lead them to the NLDS victory; the most we can expect from their starting pitching is competence.

In the ALCS, I like Boston over Minnesota, mostly because I think that the Red Sox will lose in the most painful way possible for Boston fans. Since they won't be playing the Yankees in the ALCS, they'll make it all the way to the World Series, stirring up major hopes all across New England. There they'll meet St. Louis, who will trounce the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS.

St. Louis takes the World Series. Steinbrenner fires Joe Torre and makes a major offseason play for Nomar Garciaparra, instead of doing the sensible thing and building up the rotation. Despite his World Series ring, Albert Pujols begs to be traded to an AL team so that he has a shot in hell of winning the MVP award in a league not including Barry Bonds. Cubs and the Red Sox fans Just Wait 'Til Next Year. Again.

(Speaking of the long-disappointed hopes of the Red Sox, a fascinating article at ESPN exposes the sordid anti-Semitic roots of the "Curse of the Bambino." It's well worth reading, whether you believe in the Curse or not. I was also startled to learn from the article that the Curse is a relatively recent invention, with the first print references appearing in the mid-1980s.)

A final note: Congratulations to my Significant Otter, whose fantasy baseball team, the Key Largo Fighting Sandcrabs, finished a respectable third in their fourteen-team league. Go, Sandcrabs!

[1] We here at Respectful of Otters kind of wish that we'd never picked up the habit of saying "we here at Respectful of Otters," considering how badly we keep getting tangled in syntax problems.