Hi, hello & welcome to THE USB MLB Playoffs Roundtable! It’s October so it’s time to decide a champion of baseball. I’ve gathered the Four Horsemen of THE Ultimate Sports Blog here to answer the most pertinent questions I could think of surrounding each entrant in the playoffs.
Introducing first, the straw that stirs the drink: Jeremy Lambert!
Then it’s the man that calls the shots, Dustin James!
Then of course it’s me, the Enforcer, Steve Cook!
And finally, we couldn’t have a proper roundtable without the Fourth Horseman, the Rock, Todd Bergman!
Which MLB team’s exclusion from the playoffs surprises you most?
Jeremy Lambert: The St. Louis Cardinals. Aren’t they supposed to be good every year and always make the playoffs? They get to beat up on the Reds and Brewers for half the season, so how the hell did they not make the playoffs? The Royals not making it is also surprising given that they are the defending champions.
Dustin James: Kansas City Royals. They’ve been the cream of the crop in Major League Baseball the past two seasons….what the hell happened this year KC? Who am I going to root for this year?
Steve Cook: Well, I picked the Houston Astros to win the World Series in the preseason for some damn reason, so their not even making the playoffs isn’t a good look for me. Jose Altuve had a remarkable season, but the pitching fell apart and some of the other youngsters had some growing pains. They still have plenty of time before their window closes and should come back strong next season.
Todd Bergman: I think that it has to be the Astros or Cardinals. Both were in the playoffs last season and big things were expected especially from the Astros, with that roster being so young and talented. The Cardinals have been mainstays in the playoffs for years but I think that the overall age of the roster is starting to wear on this franchise. I’m going to say Astros but I think that you could put the Cardinals right there as well.
Which wild card team has the best chance of winning the World Series?
Jeremy Lambert: The Mets were in the World Series last year and the Giants always win in even years. The Blue Jays were big favorites coming into the season, but have stumbled down the stretch. I don’t know anything about the Orioles. Is Cal Ripken still playing for them? I’ll go with the Giants because they have Johnny Cueto, Madison Bumgarner, and Jeff Samardzija.
Dustin James: San Francisco Giants. It’s an even year.
Steve Cook: It’s an even-numbered year, so you gotta go with the Giants here. They have the pitching to make a deep postseason run and tons of playoff experience. The Mets would have been my choice here if they had enough healthy pitchers, but they don’t. The Blue Jays & Orioles are both gifted offensively but don’t have the pitching they will need.
Todd Bergman: That would be the Giants. They have great pitching, defense and timely offense. Most postseason games come down to a small amount of opportunities and the Giants have a history of getting that base hit when they really need it. Just ask Cincinnati Reds fans about the Giants ability to get clutch hits and their lock down pitching staff.
Red Sox: Has the celebration of David Ortiz’s retirement been a little much?
Jeremy Lambert: Nah. I love David Ortiz. He’s awesome. His retirement tour hasn’t even been the worst one in pro sports this year.
Dustin James: Yes, but this is MLB and we’ve seen it before. Only in baseball and basketball do you give guys “a farewell tour” before they hang it up. You know what a retiring QB would get in the NFL if he announced he was hanging it up? A vicious linebacker rushing in to rip his head off so he can add it to his mantle. If we start giving every great player a “farewell tour” and celebrating their career during the season, it’s going to get old real quick…if it isn’t already. Yes, Ortiz was a great player. Yes, we know he’s hanging them up. How about just making an announcement at the end of the season so you aren’t a distraction? Not in this narcissistic world we live in these days…..
Steve Cook: It’s been a bit much. Ortiz is a great player and a sure-fire Hall of Famer, but when people are acting like he was a better player than Ted Williams it’s getting a wee bit ridiculous. I’m not a big fan of retirement tours in general. Derek Jeter’s tour was also a bit much for my liking. Kobe Bryant’s tour was pretty ridiculous. Hell, NASCAR’s giving Tony Stewart a retirement tour this year and he killed a guy. Why can’t these guys retire quietly after the season ends like Tim Duncan, who was better in his sport than everybody else mentioned in this paragraph with the possible exception of Ted Williams?
Todd Bergman: Baseball has a long season and you have to have something to cover for the 162 games, so MLB has branded itself the year of David Ortiz. It’s annoying but it will only get worse through the postseason.
Indians: Are the Indians a less interesting story now that Cleveland’s already won a sports championship this season?
Jeremy Lambert: No. They are less interesting because I’ve seen Major League.
Dustin James: Yes. We don’t care about you anymore Cleveland. Go away.
Steve Cook: Absolutely. If the Warriors had finished the Cavs off in Game 5 of the NBA Finals like everybody thought they would, Cleveland & the world would be hanging on the Indians’ every move in their quest to finally get the Mistake by the Lake their sports championship. I’m sure Cleveland is, but the rest of us have moved on.
Todd Bergman: This answer would be FICTION…wait, is this not MMA Fact or Fiction? The Indians are a great story about a team with a serious lack of star power going up against the massive payrolls of Boston, Toronto, Texas and others. They are interesting because they are a true definition of a team and win with defense. The Indians winning would be a much bigger story than the Cavs winning because they don’t have the best player in the world on their team.
Rangers: Will any of the Rangers slug Jose Bautista if the Blue Jays make it to the ALDS?
Jeremy Lambert: I looked up Jose Bautista and saw that he’s 6’0” 205 lbs and 35 years old. Then I looked at the Rangers roster and saw that Carlos Gomez is 6’3” 218 lbs and 30 years old. So I feel like Gomez could probably take him. In fact, the Rangers have a few guys that are 6’3”-6’4” who can probably scrap.
Dustin James: Yes. We are bound to see a bench clearing “brawl” at some point during the post-season and these two teams are the favorites for obvious reasons. I can totally see Jose Bautista pull the ultimate bat-flip when he flips his bat all the way out of the arena. The Rangers likely won’t like this move and will punch him in the face repeatedly. It’s the only reason I’m watching the playoffs this year and if it doesn’t happen I’ll be extremely disappointed.
Steve Cook: Oh, there will be a fight if there’s a Blue Jays/Rangers series. And it will be glorious. The Rangers got the upperhand of the fight in Arlington, so a Blue Jay pitcher will definitely throw at Rougned Odor the first chance they get. Then all heck will break loose, and I figure if Bautista is anywhere near it somebody will swing at him. Somebody not on the 25-man roster if the Rangers are smart.
Todd Bergman: Typically in the postseason, you do not see these things happen because you don’t want to lose a key player for any of these playoff games. While it would make for some great TV, these types of things usually happen in the regular season when there is a much broader scope of games to be played.
Nationals: Will a Dusty Baker-managed team finally get over the playoff hump?
Jeremy Lambert: No.
Dustin James: No. People with the name “Dustin/Dusty” are born to fail at life. It’s what we do.
Steve Cook: The Nationals have a really good record but I don’t feel like they can beat the Dodgers or the Cubs in a series. So the answer is no, but I must say that I’d take Dusty leading the Reds to another NLDS loss over what we’re getting in Cincinnati now.
Todd Bergman: No, next toothpick. On a serious note, weird things happen to Dusty teams in the playoffs, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Nationals struggled to score runs during the upcoming series.
Dodgers: Is Vin Scully the greatest sports announcer of all time?
Jeremy Lambert: Only behind Mike Goldberg
Dustin James: He’s the greatest baseball announcer of all-time, no questions asked. The way the man can tell a story and call a baseball game at the same time is unmatched and will never be repeated. However, since this is an opinionated question….I personally think the greatest sports announcer of all-time is Mr. Keith Jackson. Listening to Keith Jackson call college football games is something I still miss on a weekly basis and I would love to build a time machine and make him young again. Whoa, Nellie!
Steve Cook: There are tons of great candidates. Jack Buck, Marty Brennaman & Harry Caray were the baseball voices of my youth. Pat Summerall & John Madden were the best football announce team. Verne Lundquist & Bill Raftery are my favorite basketball announce team. Dick Enberg is probably the most versatile announcer of all time. But none of these guys called games for the same team for sixty-seven years, most games all by himself without a color commentator. I have to give the title to Scully. The perfect voice for baseball, an endless supply of stories, and an innate ability to have the perfect words to describe the most dramatic situations.
Todd Bergman: Yes, only followed by Gordon Solie and Marty Brennaman. Longevity of a career followed by the range of sports that he covered. Hell, he made the Masters exciting back in the day.
Cubs: Why wouldn’t they win it all? Other than “they’re the Cubs.”
Jeremy Lambert: Cause it’s baseball and weird things happen.
Dustin James: The Cubs are bound to be disappointed at some point during the post-season. I could totally see the Giants winning the wild card game and then upsetting the Cubs in the NLDS. Why? Because it’s an even year.
Steve Cook: It’s really tough to envision a scenario where they don’t. They have the best offense & their pitching will be more than enough to take care of things. A team will have to play at their very best and hit on all cylinders to top the Cubs in a series, and how many times does that happen in October? All the time. Some random guy will hit over .500 in a series. A previously unheralded pitcher will have the month of his life. A closer will become lights-out in the blink of an eye. A team will have the proper motivation to perform at a level not previously thought possible. The Chicago Cubs have the best team in 2016 and should win the World Series. But the best team in baseball often doesn’t end up winning the World Series.
Todd Bergman: They would lose because of their pitching (more specifically the bullpen). The entire season, the pitching has been top notch but again this is the postseason and sometimes good pitchers struggle with the extra pressure. Their offense is putting up Star Wars numbers but if that bullpen cannot get those key outs then it could be another year of the curse for the children of bears.
Predict the World Series & the champion.
Jeremy Lambert: Cubs vs. Red Sox and the Cubs win because baseball is rigged.
Dustin James: San Francisco Giants vs. Boston Red Sox. Giants win because it’s an even year. It’s a real thing people. Believe in it. Madison Bumgarner is the GOAT.
Steve Cook: I picked Cubs vs. Red Sox in the most recent USB Baseball Report and see no reason to change my mind yet. As for who wins? I get the feeling that David Ortiz will go out on a winning note. Because baseball.
Todd Bergman: Cubs vs. Red Sox with the Red Sox winning the championship. Boston has a seriously underrated lineup and I look for them to win it all in 7.
Thanks for reading, everybody! Enjoy October Baseball!