Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald
Lars was off enjoying the finer things in life during the wildcard round, so he missed some of the incredible action that has already happened in the playoffs. But he is back to offer up some prognostications for the final 8 teams in the hunt for the World Series. After consulting with Mr. SIM, Lars has learned to never pick the Syracuse Beagles again in his life, but as they are not playing in this round, you can be assured that his picks were made without bias.
#1 Omaha Sluggers (109-53) vs. #4 Richmond Cohibas (75-87)
Overview: Along with the rest of Cobb World, Lars was stunned when the Cohibas, who won their division with a losing record on the last day, swept his preseason pick for the second best team in the National League, the Syracuse Beagles. The heavily favored Beagles won 100 games, but none of that mattered as Richmond proved that anything can happen in the playoffs. Now the Cohibas face a team that not only won 34 more games in the regular season, but have won three of the last four World Series, and feature a rotation and lineup that is among the best off all time in Cobb. Richmond got to the second round on the strength of it's hitting, and they do feature a lineup that is as good as any in the league. The pitching on the other hand is not playoff calibur, and Lars has a feeling that Barrios and co. will put them in their place.
Prediction: Omaha in 4
#2 Sioux Falls Corn Cleats (107-55) vs. #6 Fargo Fug Nuts (96-66)
Overview: There is no love lost between these two divisional archrivals from the NL North, and they get to settle it in the playoffs for the 3rd time in the two Cobb original teams history. Fargo has taken the two previous playoff encounters, but Sioux Falls has put together their best team in franchise history, ending the Fug Nuts streak of 9 straight division titles with their first NL North Championship since season 1. The Fug Nuts were derailed by key injuries to star pitchers Kirt Hooper and John Chang early in the season, but rebounded to come from behind for the final playoff spot once Hooper returned. Chang is still out, but the Fug Nuts still have a potent lineup and pitching staff. The Cleats made some major moves in the offseason, bringing in star pitcher Victor Gandarillas, LF/2B Emmanuel Castillo, and CF Jose Cervantes, who will be counted on to put them over the top vs. their nemesis. Lars thinks this will be a close one, as the two teams were evenly matched when healthy, but thinks that Chang's continuing injury will ultimately be the difference.
Prediction: Sioux Falls in 5
#1 Pawtucket G-Maniacs (110-52) vs. #5 Cleveland Steamers (91-71)
Overview: The Steamers played an incredible final month of baseball to propel themselves past Pittsburgh in the NL East for a wildcard berth in a race that went to the last day. Lars thinks that Cleveland likes the wildcard spot, as they made a run to the World Series last season from the same position, and have already upset for the second straight season the AL South Champion Nashville Rebel Riders. Now the Steamers are looking to upset Pawtucket for the second straight season and send the G-Maniacs owner geltzjg to an insane asylum. Pawtucket will depend heavily on a balanced lineup and the skills of Dean Hernandez, who will pitch as many games in this series as his arm can handle before falling off. Cleveland has been rolling behind playoff ace Ruben Gonzalez veteran 3B Sammy Maduro. Cleveland has the pitching and hitting to pull of the upset, but Pawtucket bears a serious grudge against the Steamers, and should channel their powerful hatred into a close series victory.
Prediction: Pawtucket in 5
#2 Anaheim Sharks (97-65) vs. #6 Mexico City Diablos Rojos (90-72)
Overview: The seemingly ageless Sharks of Anaheim are back again in a high seed in the playoffs, and this time their savvy veteran rotation is back for perhaps their final go around vs. the young and exciting staff of Mexico City, led by Eric Collins and his mustache and first round hero Bernard LaRocca. Mexico City overcame a brutal start to their season to clinch a playoff spot on the last day of the season over hard luck Pittsburgh, but have the talent in thier lineup to make a run, with veterans Hades Booker, Diego Montana, Woody Olerud, and Sarma O'Connor powering the Diablos. Anaheim counters with perpetual MVP candidate Kory Arnold and a talented supporting cast, making for what should be a very even matchup between the two teams. Lars doesn't see a weakness for either squad, and thinks that the series will go the distance, with Mexico City having slightly more juice.
Prediction: Mexico City in 5.