As the first post in this series was relegated to why we should cheer for anybody but the Yankees, I failed to deliver any analysis as to who will actually win, and why. Thus far, each series has been completely one-sided, with the exception of the Atlanta Braves’ gutsy come-from-behind win in San Francisco last night (which, by the way, is easily the best game of the 2010 Playoffs, and a prime example of why post-season baseball reigns supreme). Barring miracle or injury, the first round of the American League Divisional Series will provide much of the same.
With 25 percent of the playoff teams heading for the gallows today, I won’t focus on who will win; we already know what will happen. We will examine the reasons why the hated Yankees and the Texas Rangers will win and advance to the American League Championship Series.
Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees
Why the Yankees win in three
The Twins have lost five in a row against the Yankees, dating back to last year, and are winless in their last 12 post-season games. They are about to make it 13 tonight. Throughout the series, we have been hearing how Twins players have altered their pregame routines to shake off undertones of superstition that prevent them from victory against New York. This may sound preposterous to some, but this could not be more accurate.
There is only one reason why they cannot—and will not— win: Brett Favre. Ever since sports fans in the Twin Cities welcomed the Mississippi Diva and former Green Bay nemesis into their hearts with open arms, the pantheon of sports deities have been infuriated to the highest degree. Irony has also reared its ugly head as the Vikings prepare to face the Jets on Monday night, following a week full of rumors about Brett making lewd overtures toward female employees during his time with New York.
As a result, the Powers That Be have conspired to keep Minnesota’s athletic teams from winning anything important. Sure, they allowed the Vikings to nearly make it to the Super Bowl, only to increase the pain of defeat tenfold as they gifted the game to the Saints. The Twins last won the World Series in 1991 and have not come close to returning since. This year will be the same.
Making a switch from players’ ritual of eating a chicken dinner (Get it? Winner, winner, chicken dinner?) to a meal of tender, juicy beef steak will not help the Twins regain their mojo, nor will it appease the Gods of Sport. Only an offering of Brett Favre will suffice and unless Twins/Vikings fans move quickly, they can look forward to focusing solely on football after tonight.
Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Why Rangers will defeat Rays in four games
Many people thought the Rangers’ chances of winning a playoff series against Tampa Bay to be only slightly better than the odds of fellow Texas Ranger Chuck Norris leading the Lone Star State into secession from the U.S. and catapulting into world domination. Boy, were we wrong.
The signs, however, have been pointing at this all along and we should not be surprised at two important points: the Rays’ bats are liable to shut down completely at times, as they did when they were no-hit in the regular season…twice. It’s happening again, and the timing could not be worse.
Texas, on the other hand, boasts a lineup that rivals perennial powerhouse teams like the Yankees and Phillies. They have had no problems with Tampa Bay hurlers at god-awful Tropicana Field and should continue the feast at home in their bandbox. This isn’t news, though. The Rangers have always produced offensively.
The difference is that they can now pitch with the big boys, too. Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson shredded the Rays in games one and two, and fans in Texas, as they always do, celebrated the slaughter of Floridian oceanic wildlife with rousing fervor. This time, however, it was not the Cowboys destroying the Dolphins on Thanksgiving Day.
Rangers fans can hope for a sweep tonight, but I think the Rays extend their misery for another game. And a painful aside: part of me dies a slow death every time I see Vladimir Guerrero in a Texas uniform.