Call me Pete Sheppard.
I've never been great with predictions and I don't think the professionals who make them are able to see into the future either. At the same time, wow, I was pretty far off base with these predictions.
The Cubs...The Cubs...The Cubs. If I were a Cubs fan out there, I'm not sure how I'd react after this latest debacle. This was a team built for a deep post season run. I'm still shocked as to how this series unfolded and really wasn't competitive in any manner. The Dodgers outpitched, outhit and outplayed the Cubs. Interestingly enough, it wasn't Manny Ramirez leading the charge as some of his stats may indicate. He did have a great series but the game-changers were Andre Ethier and James Loney. I guess this goes back to the old adage I had mentioned last week that at times it's not necessarily the best team but the hottest team (see: 2007 Colorado Rockies).
Next up: the Philadelphia Phillies and how wrong they proved me. This wasn't as bad as the Cubs series but in the end I overestimated Yovani Gallardo's ability in big games as of right now. Remember this, though; I have no doubt in my mind Gallardo will be a great pitcher in this league. I felt the Phillies haven't hit their stride yet after watching them demolish a solid (albeit tired and Ben Sheets-less) Brewers team. Cole Hamels looked like the stud that he has the potential to be every start he trots out for in game 1. That wasn't out of the realm of possibility. Brett Myers dominating was a bit less likely but he did what I was questioned whether he had the intestinal fortitude to do: take charge and have his emotions in control. Blanton was solid as well in game 4 but if the Phils have Myers and Hamels going strong they have a chance in any series.
I'll be previewing the 1970's-style matchup between the Phils and Dodgers tomorrow.
Tampa is up 6-2 on the White Sox in the 7th as I'm writing this and if they hold on, they'll be a tough opponent for whoever advances in the Sox-Angels series.
....Speaking of that series, to go back to that predictions thing, I'm not sure there were many who picked the Sox to take both in L.A. then lose game 3 with Josh Beckett on the mound at home. Something I've been coming to terms with gradually, and I think other fans are starting to feel the same way, is that this is not the 2007 Beckett. Nor do I think he'll be making an appearance in these playoffs. Something is obviously wrong with him physically and he simply isn't locating the way he needs to. The only pitch he had any sort of success with was his outside breaking ball. His fastball was all over the place and his velocity didn't scare any of those hitters. Success with runners in scoring position, no matter how little, has determined the first 3 games and I don't expect that to change tonight. Lester-Lackey could be a classic.
Side note: Mike Lowell won't be playing tonight and is out indefinately. Not that he's done anything in this series but this hurts purely because there was the threat of him coming up with a big hit. Not unexpected but this is something to follow in the offseason because a hip with growing arthritis could be problematic. Older players making big money with hip problems generally don't recover (see: Albert Belle).