Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald
The playoff field has been whittled down to eight deserving teams, all of whom would be excellent champions. But as in the Highlander, there can only be one, so it is time to guess who will be going on, and whose season will end in bitter defeat.
1. Fargo Fug Nuts (121-41) vs. 4. Louisville Tysons (98-64)
Overview: The Fug Nuts rode the leagues best record to the #1 seed and a first round bye. But injuries have crippled the Fug Nug juggernaut, with Jim Green and Grant Spencer among the players that will miss the entire playoffs. Still, the Fug Nuts are loaded, and look for playoff stud Corey Green to lead the lineup, while regular season stud Hades Booker tries to shed his playoff dud history. Much of the Fug Nut pitching staff remains unproven in the playoffs however. As for the Tysons, they are fielding a collection of Cobb World greats who will soon be hitting the links and collecting retirement pensions. This could very well be the last hurrah for Dallas Kline, Timothy Serra, Rob Quinn, Bob Sears, Roosevelt Lowell, Javier Gonzalez, and Vitas Newman, all of whom have had storied careers. If the Tysons are to upset the Fug Nuts though, the outcome will probably depend on the talented young arms of David Rosado and Talmadge Young and their ability to shut down the lethal Fargo lineup.
Prediction: Fargo in 5 - The Tysons are hungry for the first championship in Louisville history, but ultimately the Fug Nuts are too deep top to bottom.
2. Omaha Sluggers (113-49) vs. 3. St. Louis HoundDogs (99-63)
Overview: The defending world champion Sluggers bring back a team that is nearly identical to the one that dominated the world series last year. The pitching staff is positively frightening, led by perennial Cy Young candidate Kaz Ong, along with cagey vets Flip Heathcott and B.C. Steenstra, and talented youngsters Ivan Canseco and Clyde Ford. The lineup is scary too, with MVP favorite Jose Barrios leading the charge. If there is a weakness in the Omaha armor, it might be closer Sean Hill. Hill converted 40 of 48 saves, but did it in scary fashion with a 1.61 WHIP and a 5.32 ERA. The HoundDogs are hungry for respect, and are taking every chance to prove themselves this season after being picked to miss the playoffs. They made a big statement when they dealt for Cobb World legend Philip Brown, and so far he hasn't disappointed, as he was nearly unhittable in his two first round starts. If he can continue owning the playoffs, and if the HoundDogs lineup can score enough runs, St. Louis has a chance for the upset. It won't be easy, but having vets who have climbed the mountain before like Brown, Rabbit Lara, and Donte Wright will help.
Prediction: Omaha in 5 - I think the HoundDogs will win the two starts that Brown pitches, but Omaha will win the other three, therefore earning them passage to the finals.
1. Anaheim Sharks (117-45) vs. 5. New York Titans (95-67)
Overview: The Sharks, last years world series runner up, continued their regular season mastery this year thanks to a deep pitching staff and deep lineup. With two Cy Young candidates in Harold Charles and J. T. Kydd and the MVP favorite Kory Arnold, it is hard to pick against Anaheim. There really isn't a weakness on the team, and with four all star starters it will be impossible for New York to have a pitching match-up that will be in their favor. The Titans face a Herculean challenge in upsetting the American League champs, but they do have some aces up their sleeve in Cy Young candidate Matthew Pryce, and a lineup that includes many playoff veterans who have been there before and shouldn't succumb to the pressure. Rico Estrada needs to adjust the tint on his shades however, as he followed a sub par regular season with a positively brutal first round, batting only .111. The Titans need their best player to pick it up in a big way if they are to have a chance.
Prediction: Sharks in 4 - The Titans will get a game, but the Sharks are just too powerful to be stopped.
2. Pawtucket G-Maniacs (108-54) vs. 6. Pittsburgh SSP (89-73)
Overview: Whereas the top bracket is a battle between two ringers, this match-up pits two of the teams that have been on the receiving end of beatings by the Sharks and Titans. The G-Maniacs are the better off of the two, and have earned another bye as a result. Led by Cy Young candidate Dean Hernandez, and sensational rookie Graham Crabtree, Pawtucket is on solid ground for the series against the SSP. But all star pitcher Albert Franco needs to overcome his playoff demons however for the G-Maniacs to go far. Pittsburgh rode one of the leagues most powerful lineups to squeak into the playoffs. Pittsburgh's lineup will work the G-Maniacs pitchers, with R.J. Cubillan, Gregg Young, Roosevelt Ingram, Tito Hyers, and Howie Payton all being hitters who work deep in the count. Greg Raines saved the day for the SSP in the first round, winning two games, but he'll be hard pressed to keep up the magic against a disciplined Pawtucket lineup.
Prediction: Pawtucket in 4 - The SSP can hit, but the G-Maniacs can hit and pitch, thus giving the advantage to Pawtucket, who will move on for another shot at their nemesis, the Los Angeles Sharks of Anaheim.