Monday, December 15, 2008

Season 10 Playoff Preview - Divisional Round

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

National League

#1 Fargo Fug Nuts (113-49) vs. #4 Huntington Hillbillies (82-80)
Overview: On paper this looks like it should be a lock for the Fug Nuts, the best team in the regular season and the #1 seed in the NL, playing against the weakest team in the playoffs, who managed to win their division despite being only 2 games above .500. But looks are deceiving as the Hillbillies dispatched a very talented Wichita squad that made the NLCS last season in the first round, and Fargo has a well known history of flaming out when it counts the most. Huntington's big strength is their powerful lineup, which is talented top to bottom and can overcome the occasional meltdown by the pitching staff. Fargo is once again a team without a real weak spot, with all stars at most positions and three Cy Young candidates in the rotation. But Lars has learned his lesson about picking the Fug Nuts in the playoffs, and figures they will find a way to blow it somehow.
Prediction: Huntington in 4.

#2 Omaha Sluggers (112-50) vs. #3 Syracuse Beagles (109-53)
Overview: This is a matchup of two very evenly matched teams, both with excellent lineups and pitching staffs. The Sluggers had the first round bye, while the Beagles came from behind to take out a 101 win Sioux Falls team in the opening round. The defending champion Sluggers have made it to the last three World Series behind the awesome arm of Kaz Ong and the massive bat of triple crown winning Jose Barrios. The Beagles don't have a player that is as clearly dominating as Barrios or Ong, but boast many all stars and young players who could reach that status within a season or two. The big question will be if Syracuse can get the pitching to match Omaha's rotation, this is the first season for ace Ron Reilly, and only the second for Phil Hinch. In Lar's mind, this is a toss-up.
Prediction: Syracuse in 5.

American League

#1 Scranton Dragons (107-55) vs. #5 New York Titans (92-70)
Overview: This battle of AL Beast rivals pits two former World Champions together fighting for the right to make the ALCS. The Dragons were the class of the AL East in the regular season, but the Titans have always been exceptional in the playoffs. The Dragons seem to have a better rotation than the Titans, but New York is battle tested after elmininating AL west champion Anaheim in the first round, and the Sharks rotation is nothing to sneeze at. The teams are evenly matched and there is no clear cut favorite. This is also a playoff rematch of last season, where Scranton had the edge and dispatched the Titans from the playoffs. Lars thinks it's time for a little payback and is taking the upset.
Prediction: New York in 5.

#2 Nashville Rebel Riders (104-58) vs. #6 Cleveland Steamers (90-72)
Overview: The Rebel Riders put together their best regular season in team history, and are looking to make a deep run in the playoffs for the first time in team history. The Steamers are back from the dead after finishing at the bottom of the heap in season 9, making the playoffs as the #6 seed. There is a lot of bad blood in this series as the reviled manager of the Steamers, pieo, has put his team in a position to win, especially after disposing of the AL North champion Pawtucket G-Maniacs and playoff monster Dean Hernandez in the first round. Will the Rebel Riders be able to cool off the Steamers? They certainly have the lineup to do it, but whether their pitching staff can handle the pressure is the question. Eddie Rivers was acquired from Jackson just for this purpose, and Lars thinks that will be enough to put Nashville in the the next round, but it won't be easy.
Prediction: Nashville in 5.

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