By Sean Conway
October is one of the most exciting months in sports. Football is in the swing of things, hockey and basketball are just starting up, and not to mention, America’s pastime is in the heat of the postseason. With the baseball’s semifinal round of action beginning tonight, it’s only fitting I break down and give my predictions on both the National and American League championship series.
To catch you up to speed on what happened in the divisional series, the Cubs took down the top team in the majors in four games. The Cardinals took game one in shutout fashion at Busch Stadium, but the Cubs would take over from there, winning the next three games. This was the first time in the rivalry’s 120 year history the two have met in the postseason. On top of that first, it was the first time in franchise history the Cubs clinched a playoff series at home. Moving on to the other matchups, the Royals took out the Astros in five games. The Blue Jays overcame a 2-0 series deficit to win in five. And the Mets outlasted the Dodgers in a back and forth five game series.
Coming up tonight, we have Game 1 on the ALCS with the Royals returning to defend their American League title against the Toronto Blue Jays. This year was the Blue Jays first postseason appearance since 1993. The Blue Jays had won the World Series back to back in both ’92 and ’93. This series features two of the best managers in the American League with Toronto’s John Gibbons and Kansas City’s Ned Yost, two likely candidates for the AL Manager of the Year. The Royals were one of the hottest teams in the AL all season, and have been left with a bitter taste in their mouth after losing in a close Game 7 of the World Series last year to the Giants. However, the Blue Jays have the underdog factor pushing them forward. The Royals are likely to have Edison Volquez on the bump for Game 1. Marco Estrada gets the call for the Blue Jays. If I had to choose a team to take this series, I would have to say the Blue Jays. Toronto has been hot as of late, and I don’t see them slowing down. I say the Jays take the series in six.
On the National League side of things, we have the Cubs facing the Mets. The Cubs have been without a doubt the hottest team in baseball since mid-August. The Mets have home field advantage, but may still be considered the underdog here. Both teams are managed by Manager of the Year hopefuls, Joe Madden(CHI) and Terry Collins(NY). I don’t see the Cubs slowing down, and it kills me to say that they’re likely to win, as a White Sox fan. However, I will be hoping to see the Mets pull off the heartbreak over the Loveable Losers. I’m calling Mets take the series in Game 7.