Here's how I think the MLB playoffs will unfold:
The Angels, Rays, and Red Sox have all clinched berths in the American League. The only spot still up for grabs is the Central Division champion. An underrated race, thanks to the heavy media coverage of the NL East's final week.
Chicago currently has a game and a half over the Twins but began a hugenormous series with Minnesota tonight (the Twins won the opener, 9-3). The Sox are likely to start John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Mark Buehrle, and Vasquez in their final four games. Rookie Clayton Richard will get skipped. The most important duel will most likely be the last game of the season when staff ace Buehrle faces likely Cy Young winner Cliff Lee.
Minnesota, meanwhile, will finish with Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins, and Scott Baker in their three-game homestand against the Royals. Their most important matchup will be the 12-4 Baker against KC's Gil Meche, also the last game of the season.
I think Minnesota will in fact overtake Chicago's division lead just in time for postseason baseball.
In the National League, only the Cubs have clinched anything at all and they've guaranteed themselves the best record in the senior circuit. New York is falling apart and it looks like Philadelphia will once again sneak past the festering car accident in Queens and take the NL East crown. The only real race here is between the loser Mets and the also-loser Brewers for the right to lose to the Cubs in the first round. And although the Brewers have a one-game disadvantage, just like the Twins, I think they will make up the one-game deficit just in time to make the playoffs.
AL East: Rays
AL Central: Twins
AL West: Angels
Al Wild Card: Red Sox
NL East: Phillies
NL Central: Cubs
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Brewers
Rays over Twins
Red Sox over Angels
Phillies over Dodgers
Cubs over Brewers
Red Sox over Rays
Cubs over Phillies
Red Sox over Cubs
This postseason is going to annoy the hell out of virtually everyone. For some reason I can almost smell the total disgust of good, honest baseball fans. Let's be honest: If you have a soul, you hate the Angels. They're a bunch of turds. Their team is full of jerks, their name is stupid, and it's impossible to look at their manager without wanting to punch him in the face. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are the Duke basketball of professional baseball. They're always good, sure, but they're completely unlikeable and they never win the big one. They are content to coast on stale, meaningless archived success. Just like Michigan football! We saw this matchup in 2004: division champion, well-rounded Angels face high-scoring wild card Red Sox. Red Sox, despite inferior pitching talent, go on to win the World Series. The 2008 Red Sox are perhaps 40% as good as the '04 Sox, but whatever.
I think I've identified why these playoffs make me so angry: the insincerity. There are three teams worth rooting for: The Rays, the Twins, and the Brewers. Two of those teams might not even make the playoffs. If we're stuck with three weeks of Ozzie and the Mets bullpen wrasslin' for a World Series, I'm simply not watching. The Red Sox have grown fat and arrogant, the Rays are a nice story but they're all wide-eyed kids with no experience, the Cubs are cursed beyond value, and the Phillies' star player is an undeserving glorified Mo Vaughn with less talent. Ryan Howard does one thing: hit low outside fastballs to left field. He does this moderately well--about 24.8% of the time. He strikes out 25% of the time. No, really. He has 600 at-bats and 200 strikeouts. What a stud.
I'm probably going to be wrong about every single series from start to finish, but maybe that's not important. Here are the playoffs you want to see:
Rays over AL Central Representative (sweep if it's the White Sox, five games if it's the Twins)
Red Sox vs. Angels--canceled
Brewers over Cubs
Dodgers over Phillies
Brewers over Dodgers (LA has enough on its mantlepiece)
Brewers over Rays
That's right, you want to see the Brewers win the World Series. The Brewers have C.C. Sabathia. The Brewers have Ryan "SuperJew" Braun. The Brewers have Bill "William" Hall. Unfortunately, none of this will happen because the Brewers fired Ned Yost and replaced him with Dale "Steal Home" Sveum. But we can dream.