Surprises, surprises in the MLB playoffs

Nyjer Morgan of the Milwaukee Brewers is up at bat. (credit: Courtesy of stevethephotographer on Flickr ) Nyjer Morgan of the Milwaukee Brewers is up at bat. (credit: Courtesy of stevethephotographer on Flickr )

I know, I know. Just last week I said that the two favorites in the Major League Baseball playoffs were the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees. Given that both teams lost in the first round of the playoffs this past week, I guess it’s a good thing that I didn’t put any money on that. If there is one thing about the MLB playoffs that is certain, it’s that there will be upsets, especially in the first round. Now we are left with two unlikely, yet exciting, match ups. The Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals get to renew their division rivalry, and the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers will battle it out in the American League. Both series should be extremely competitive with these teams being so evenly matched, so it should be an exciting League Championship Series.

The Cardinals and Brewers series is the more interesting match up, given the boiling hatred between these two teams. They are bitter division rivals, and this rivalry has only intensified this year with both teams in the thick of this year’s playoff race. But a primary promoter in this loathing is Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan. Morgan has been very active in the media through his Twitter alias Tony Plush, who is known for making outrageous statements while contributing his aloof attitude on the field. However, it is not always fun and games when Morgan is involved.

Earlier in the regular season, Morgan and Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter got into a bitter exchange in a heated game between the two teams. Videos show Morgan throwing a wad of chewing gum at the veteran pitcher, further inciting a team that already hates the Brewers’ guts. Later on, Morgan called out the Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, the best player in the game, on Twitter by mockingly calling him “Alberta.” If there is anything we can expect from this series, it is that emotions will be running high and that there will be some competitive fire between the two teams.

In the American League Championship Series, there is not necessarily any bad blood between the Tigers and the Rangers, given that they are from different divisions, but that doesn’t mean this series won’t be a battle.

These two teams are built very differently, as Detroit relies heavily on having their ace, Justin Verlander, pitching three games in this series. Verlander was almost unbeatable this year, notching 24 wins and posting a sub-3 earned run average. He is the best pitcher in the league by far this year, and many of the Tigers playoff chances rest on his right arm.

On the other side, Texas features a very strong rotation, one where there isn’t much discrepancy between their No. 1 starter, C.J. Wilson, and the rest of the rotation. In fact, the Rangers are much like the Yankees in that they rely on the offensive side of the ball to get a pick-up if the starting pitchers struggle. A big loss in this series for Detroit is outfielder Delmon Young, who strained an oblique muscle in the ALDS against the Yankees after hitting three home runs in that series. Without Young’s bat, the rest of the Tigers will have to step it up if they want to compete with a team as good as the Rangers.

In both series, I expect a highly emotional, heated battle. My prediction is for the Brewers to edge the Cardinals, and the Rangers over the Tigers. But we all know how my last predictions turned out. I can be absolute certain, however, that both of ther series will be must-watch television. Maybe Morgan will get a game-winning hit that sends the Brewers to the World Series? Maybe Chris Carpenter will strike him out and send the Cardinals there instead?
Get ready for some memorable competition, baseball fans.