Tuesday

Baseball Update & Week 7 Picks Post-Mortem


Hello again everybody!

First of all, let me apologize for not posting yesterday.

Quick background: I've been fighting against what apparently is a sinus infection (it's either that, or the bubonic plague, I can't decide) for the last three weeks. I've also always been one of those people who thinks, "if it ain't broke or bleedin', I'm not going to a doctor."

Well last week, the discomfort got bad enough that I decided to set aside that rule. So I went to a doc and got some antibiotics. Unfortunately, they didn't take. So yesterday I took another day off of work and went to my primary physician and he gave me a different antibiotic, so hopefully that will finally kick this thing out of my system. Hopefully...

So I spent yesterday in various states of consciousness, which precluded me from writing anything worth reading. But I'm back today and feeling relatively better (insert Dan furiously knocking on some sort of wood-based product here), so it's time to play catch-up.

Today I'll bring you up to date with the two League Championship Series and where they go from here. Then it's the Week 7 Picks Post-Mortem. Not the best of weeks for the ol' picks, but that was coming sooner or later. So let's get to it!

"The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable."
- John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006), Canadian-American economist.

Sounds about right to me...

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First to baseball...

Philadelphia Phillies lead the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1:
Well I was way off on this pick. This one now has Philly in 5 or 6 written all over it. Bottom line, Philadelphia's offense has been clicking and L.A.'s hasn't. In fact, if you remove Manny Ramirez from the equation, the Dodgers wouldn't have much in the way of offense at all.

I said in my initial breakdown of this series that clutch hitting would go a long way towards indicating the victor and that's turned out to be true. It just wasn't the clutch hitter I'd imagined it would be. Manny Ramirez has hit well mind you, but the rest of the Dodgers haven't put him in situations where he can win a game.

Instead the clutch hitter who's emerged is an unlikely hero named Shane Victorino. Victorino's only hitting .267 this post-season, but has several clutch hits including a Grand Slam in the LDS against Milwaukee and a huge home run last night versus L.A. Toss in 11 RBI, and Victorino's clearly been the clutch hitter in the NL this post-season.

The series is off today as the two teams travel back to Philadelphia for Game 5. Tomorrow night Philly sends Cole Hamels (winner of Game 1) to the mound to face Chad Billingsly (loser of Game 2). Clearly this sets up for the Phillies to put this series away. Which is exactly why I'm not going to predict that it will happen. It certainly could, don't get me wrong. But in this year's playoffs, just when you think you've got them figured out, they throw a curveball at you.

Tampa Bay Rays lead the Boston Red Sox (whom I hate) 2-1:
Color me surprised. After the two clubs split the first two games in Tampa, I figured for sure that Boston (whom I hate) would take the 2-1 lead after Game 3. First game of the ALCS in the city of Boston... rowdy fans... Jon Lester on the mound... it all set up for a Red Sox (whom I hate) win.

Unfortunately for Bostonians, the Rays line-up had different ideas. After a solid first inning from Lester, the Rays jumped on him in the 2nd inning, scoring 4 runs and grabbing a lead they'd never relinquish.

Game 4 is tonight. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield heads to the hill for Boston (whom I hate) while Andy Sonnanstine hits the bump for the Rays. Both pitchers are making their first appearances in the ALCS, and for Wakefield, it's his first appearance in this year's post-season. But does a knuckleballer ever really get rusty? Hard to say. Sonnanstine defeated the White Sox in their ALDS series. And since he only went 5 2/3 innings in that game, he should be fully rested.

Both teams will are hoping their starters can carry them late into the game, but will be willing to go to the bullpen early if necessary since it gives Tampa an enormous advantage if the Rays win this game.

First pitch is at 7:07pm central time.

Next it's time for my Week 7 Picks Post-Mortem. Two straight weeks of 3-1 records led to this. Could I keep it rolling? Let's find out!

Vanderbilt -2.5 @ Mississippi State: Final Score - Mississippi State 17, Vanderbilt 14

And just like that, I'm back off the bandwagon. I'd finally started to believe that Vandy was for real, and they turn around and amass a whopping 107 yards of offense against a suddenly stingy Bulldog defense.

I guess that shouldn't be a total surprise after MSU held down a suspect Auburn offense earlier this year (a game Auburn won 3-2). But I really thought Vandy had what it took to beat a team that should be an SEC also-ran.

What Dan Learned: Look, the SEC is tough enough to predict when you're dealing with the top teams. We're not messing with the middle or bottom of the league any more. Unless the line's way out of whack that is!

Okay, so I was off to an 0-1 start. Time for the comeback to begin!

North Carolina -7.5 vs. Notre Dame: Final Score - UNC 29, ND 24.

Close, but no cigar.

This was the only one of the 4 picks that I actually got to watch some of on Saturday. And I wasn't really ever in contention. Give the Golden Domers credit, they hung right with North Carolina throughout the game. But the Tar Heels finally took the final lead in the 4th quarter. There was enough time left where I thought they had a chance to add on a field goal and cover for me, but it was not to be.

What Dan Learned: I'm not going to say Notre Dame's for real, but they are a dangerous football team. I'm not sure they'll be an underdog in any of their games until they meet USC in late November. And if they are, it shouldn't be by any more than a field goal. If it is, I think we have to take them!

Oof... 0-2 and begging for Auburn to come through!

Auburn -19 vs. Arkansas: Final Score - Arkansas 25, Auburn 22

What the !@#$?!

From what I've read, this was a simple matter of Arkansas' defense showing up, while Auburn's didn't.

Still, this is a truly horrible loss for Auburn. Not is it the first time they've lost back-to-back SEC games in five years, but Arkansas is about as bad as it gets in the SEC. Meaning that the road's not going to get any easier for them the rest of the year.

What Dan Learned: !@#$ Auburn. I'm done with them.

0-3 and now the "Flier Pick" has to come through just so I don't go 0-fer!

Ball State -16 @ Western Kentucky: Final Score - Ball St. 24, WKU 7

Thank God for the Cardinals!

They started slow, but once again adjusted at halftime and squeaked out my one win of the week.

Sounds like MiQuale Lewis is making a play for "best college running back you've never heard of" as he surpassed 100 yards rushing for the 6th straight game.

What Dan Learned: I may be relying on the Cardinals for the rest of their season. They're a Top 25 team now and that will bring some pressure with it. But as long as the lines remain reasonable, they may have become the "Flier Pick" staple for the rest of the season!

So that's what a 1-3 week feels like. Suddenly memories of last year have come flooding back. But I'm not going to hang my head! I'm still 16-12 (.571) for the year, which remains a vast improvement over last season. Time for a comeback next week!

So that's it for today folks. It's looking like this is a two-column week as I'll likely be throwing the Poll, Picks and DFTU at you on Thursday and call it a week. Until then, thanks for reading!

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