October 22, 2004

Letter to SI

Here's a letter I wrote to SI about an article written by Kelley King titled, "Again, the BCS Gets It Wrong". I'm posting it because it has no shot of making it to the actual magazine. Agree, disagree, think I'm a pompous ass? Post a response or shoot me an email (as always, michaelponeill2003@yahoo.com) -- I'd really like to know if I am indeed alone in this....

Dearest SI,

I have yet to understand what the big beef is with the BCS, and why everyone seems to think that it's "wrong." Is it because the results of computer analysis of facts differs from the opinions showcased in two sets of College Football polls? Let's not forget that the polls are essentially the media and coaches saying, "I like this team better." Whether it be based on fact or not, it's still an opinion shared amongst media members/coaches. In my mind, that ranking has more "vagaries" than the "confounded system" that is blind to tradition, doesn't see endless replays of showy catches, and shows no allegiance to any conference or team when computing which team has acheived the most success.

The media need to climb down from their ivory tower lest they forget how wrong their preseason polls and Heisman selections end up being.

Michael O'Neill
Indianapolis, IN

Seven Games to Rule Them All...

Fourteen games for ages -- baseball fans have been blessed with LCS history for two straight years now, and after the Red Sox and Cubs teased us last year with the chance of an apocolyptic Cubs-Red Sox World Series, we're finally getting to see Boston in a World Series, and in as dramatic fashion as any team has made it before. The Cards come off a come-from-behind series as well, needing an Edmonds walk-off to force a Game 7 that they'd win 5-2. Welcome to the World Series, boys, first time for the Cards since they won in '87, and first time since '86 that the Sox have hung the bunting this late in October.

Who has the edge? This is a very, very tight series in most aspects of the game. Both lineups are loaded, both pitching staffs have a lot of wins, and both teams have some of the most passionate fans in the country. The last time both LCS went to seven games, the WS went the distance, and this one has all the makings of an epic.

I like St. Louis' lineup better than Boston's. I think the Cards have shown throughout the postseason that they can win playing longball and playing smallball. They're faster than the Red Sox, and no pitcher wants to face Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Renteria, ohmygoodness get the bullpen warmed up, I wanna go home. Boston has a LOT of power, even Damon woke up towards the end (giving last week's pick a sliver of credibility), and they're going to be hard to stop, but if you've got the same pitchers pitching to both lineups, I'll take the Cards.

Here's the thing -- you're not using the same pitching staff. I think that Boston's staff has a HUGE edge over the Cards'. St. Louis has more wins, but throughout the season, Boston won more close games, and you look for that in the postseason. They also have a lot more playoff experience than the Cards do, which is gonna show up huge in this series. Bullpen strength is another huge edge for the Sox, with Foulke on a fiery-hot stretch and Isringhausen looking shakier than Byung-yung Kim in '01.

Managers? LaRussa has the experience, but Francona has the edge. WHAT?? Ive GOT to be kidding you! LaRussa's won the whole freakin' thing with the A's!! That's true, but he's also been swept by a far inferior Reds team in '90. He's made a few questionable changes in past two series -- more, actually, than Francona did against the Yankees. Here's the other thing -- first-year managers with a team are on a hot streak. Arizona's Bob Brenly beat the Yankees in '01; Anaheim's Mike Scioscia beat the Yankees on the way to beating the Giants in '02; Florida's Jack McKeon beat the Yankees in '03. This is Francona's first year with the Red Sox, he's already gotten the Yankees out of the way, and he's in line to keep the streak alive.

Homefield advantage, hmmmm. The two best fanbases in baseball meet in the World Series -- Boston's fans are the most dedicated in baseball, while Cards fans are the most knowledgable and have the most class. As far as homefield advantages go, they're both strong. The Cards are 6-0 at home, having blown out their opponent in the first four of those games, then took late innings to sweep the Stros out of town. Boston is 3-1, with every victory in extra innings. You give the edge to Busch here -- no matter how good the fans are in Boston, you just can't beat perfection.

So, who do I pick? The Cards have won the past two World Series between the two, and have the second most world titles in basball. The Sox are coming of the most improbable series win in baseball history, and are not overlooking the NL champs. It's tough, tough, tough, but I've got to go with pitching. I think the Sox have the better starters and definitely have the better closer, and I think this is the year the curse gets broken. I think that if Boston leads 3-2, you're gonna see more of the Buckner play than you'd ever hope to see, and if this thing goes to Game 7, it'll be on Halloween night, at Fewnway. I think Boston exorcises it's demons in the last possible moment, and Red Sox Nation gets what's it's wanted for so, so long. Boston in seven to lift The Curse.

You can't script October, but Someone is certainly trying.

Red Sox. Redbirds. World Series. Here we go.

October 13, 2004

Whee!! Posted by Hello

This is gonna be great...

There's only one thing missing from this year's Championship Series -- the Braves. That's all the pining I'll do, because we got whooped in Game 5. That said, this should be an interesting pair of seven-game series....

I want to prefeace this by saying I had written everything yesterday morning, and will try not to skew anything based on what happened last night. You can even ask Meagan if you doubt that I thought Hideki Matsui would have a big series. But we'll get to that soon enough...


Game 1 should show how great this series is going to be. Schilling doesn't do well, giving up 6 runs, and Mussina pitches 6.1 perfect innings. Despite that, the Yanks only won by 3. Three runs. That's it. You think NY is satisfied with that? I surely hope not, for their sake. This help my prediction of Boston winning, because this shows that they can overcome a DREADFUL start from their pitching and a nearly immacualte start fom NY's pitching and still make a game of it. I predicted yesterday that Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon would play a big role in the series -- Matsui went bonkers while Damon went back to the bench -- look for him to make up for it tonight. I still like Boston to win the series, and I still think they'll do it in 6.


I've gotten feedback from Cardinal fans over the past couple days, and I have to think they're gonna be satisfied by the end of the week. Houston is a great team, but the Cards have more rest and better pitching to start the series. Watch out for Houston's Game 1 closer, though, Backe's been great towards the end of this year and exceeded my expectations in the NLDS. Houston's goal was to win a series, while St. Louis set their eyes on the World Series, and I think they'll get there, maybe in a sweep, but I'll officially say in 5 games. No matter how many games, though, congrats again to the Astros for a fantastic season and historic postseason.

This should be a fantastic week, lots of baseball for all to enjoy! Allow me to iterate to anyone hiring in Indianapolis that I still, indeed, do need a job, but if you gave me a few weeks to ride the baseball playoffs out, I wouldn't mind too terribly ;-) Just kidding, hon!

October 11, 2004

Game 5, here we come!

What a weekend. Saturday sucked for me as a sports fan. Had a great time seeing everyone on campus, and going back to VU is always great, but check this out --

VU collapses.
Braves lose.
UT wins.
The REAL UT loses (Texas)
Cal loses.
Cards lose (no sweep).
Yanks clinch the series.

By 10 o'clock, after Rutgers (and the refs) pulled off their miracle comeback, I was literally numb. I can't think of another time when nothing in the sports world went my way so completely than it did on Saturday.

Needless to say, Sunday made up for it, big time. I was with a lot of family who were Braves fans, along with a happy Sox fan, and, well, a Mets fan (sorry, Dad!). We started eating lunch right after the Braves had it to 2-0, finished just after the Astros had made it 5-2. A cousin of mine wisely said, "Can't have a great comeback without being down!" That's going to be a new theme methinks. :) We quickly came back in and crowded round the TV, jubilation ringing out with each double play, and pandemonium ensuing when LaRoche hit his home run and JD Drew knocked in the winning run, and overwhelming relief when Furcal stepped on second and whipped a throw to first, getting Kent and winning the game. 2-2. Back to Atlanta. Braves win.

What a phenominal game. Even a scrappy St. Louis comeback over my streaking Seahawks didn't bring me down for more than a few minutes. So what does this mean? Essentially, I had a great week-end, getting to see a lot of old friends, and jumped for joy as the Astros did not win their 20th game at home after all. Cards win last night, giving them the series, though not in the sweep I thought. That's ok, I only guaranteed the results, not the game number. ;-)

Boston swept, another pick correct, just not the right number, and the Twins get out of the ALDS in four, as I said. It's just that I picked the Twins, but the Yankees won. This is what baseball needs, though. All the hype, all the trades, all the bickering, all the fights, all the one-upsmanship was leading up to this 7-game series -- it's going to be a war; no matter how many games it goes, you can bet each game will seem like a Game 7. I like the Sox (PWS!), and I'll go further in depth tomorrow.

Why tomorrow? Cause today it's all Braves.

Game 5, in the ATL. Jared Wright goes back to the mound to make up for Game 1, Roy Oswalt goes back (on just 3 days rest) to get the win he earned in Game 2. Don't forget, Jared Wright pitched pretty well in Game 1 -- the Astros hit at precisely the right time to get their runs -- and didn't give up a single walk. With the momentum back to the Braves, look for their lineup to wake up against Oswalt, led by Marcus Giles and Chipper Jones (they're SO due!!). If the Braves get to the Astros struggling bullpen early, we win. On the flip side, John Smoltz has shown why he's the best clutch closer in the NL in both wins, pitching for more than one inning in both Games 2 and 4, and getting the win in Game 4. There's no one I'd rather have closing a close game than John Smoltz!!

Here's a key point -- this is the first evening game the Braves have played this series. Shocking that in a five-game series, not one of them would be featured in primetime, no? Both games in Atlanta have started at 4 on weekdays, while the Astros got week-end games for both of their home games. People always complain about games not being sold out at Atlanta, but if the games are scheduled while people are AT WORK, what do you expect??? Here's the kicker -- had the Cards gone to a Game 5, it would've been the exact same thing. There's absolutely NO home field advantge there! That's all three games in a thriving metropolis with none of them played when people can come see it!!!

As for a prediction, Braves win 5-2 with their first true home crowd this postseason behind them, heading to St. Louis to start a crazy NLCS.

Post some score predictions if you think you can do better -- I'll give some sort of prize to whomever gets the closest! Go Braves!

October 08, 2004

Out for a wee bit

I'm headed to Nashville for the week-end -- gonna see the Dores beat up on Rutgers!! I'll post again on Sunday night -- by that time, if I've called every series right, they should all be over. I'll try to give a synopsis on what the pennant series will hold, and hopefully gloat on picking all four series right. ;-) Should I miss, feel free to gloat by posting a comment or shooting an email -- michaelponeill2003@yahoo.com

See y'all on Sunday!

October 07, 2004

Somewhat on schedule...

After a pounding from the Astros, you'd think I'd be pretty bummed about the playoffs so far. Even after the Yankees came from behind in the 12th inning, I ain't skerred. Right now, I'm on track for each series, and most things are playing out the way I thought they would...

Boston is actually the exception in this case. The game was better until the 8th inning or so, but they're kicking butt and taking names in Anaheim. PWS, as Pedro ignores the "slump" the press has been so big on lately -- at least HE knows that the playoffs are totally seperate from the regular season! Friday's game should be a close one, but it's gonna be tough for Anaheim to beat Boston at Fenway when they're on such a roll. I think my prediction of 5 games is off -- this series won't make it back to the West Coast.

The Yankees won in dramatic fashion last night after a manager left a pitcher in for too long (though I would've done the very same thing, don't get me wrong). I asked for echoes of Pedro yesterday -- it happened a game too late, I suppose. Still, the Twins are in the driver's seat. They've got a much better pitcher coming up in Game 3, and if the Metrodome staff is smart, they'll break out those white hankies that drive opposing teams nuts.... I'll stick with my 4-game prediction, thinking the Twins will sweep the Yankees at home.

To the NL -- well, the Braves are behind. However, it's just 1-0, and I would've been ecstatic to beat the Rocket in the playoffs in the first place. The Game 1 business is bunk -- he's a fantastic pitcher no matter what game. We had a LOT of chances to make it a better game in the first four innings, but didn't get the 2-out hits we needed. Houston seemed to get every 2-out hit they needed, and took advantage of every situation that Atlanta couldn't -- that was the difference in the ball game. I think if we can get as many people on base early as we did today, we can win the ballgame and win big. Still on pace to win in four, but I'm not going to be shocked if the series ends up back in Atlanta for Game 5.

Ah, the Cards. They get to showcase how good they are and how miserable the Dodgers are on national television tonight. Hopefully this'll be the game where Gagne blows the save for all to see that's he the most over-rated closer in the game today. With or without Gange, the Cards win, and will make the trip to L.A. a short one.

Cards up 1-0 (on track)
Yanks/Twins tied 1-1 (on track)
Braves down 0-1 (on track)
Red Sox up 2-0 (better than on track)

Lots of games to play, but I still like my chances.

October 06, 2004

Game One: The Diary


Ok, so here's how it starts. Not only are the two color commentators Jeff Brantley (the Biggest Mouth and Ass in the West) and David Justice (hero of the '95 World Series, then traitor who signed with the Yankees), but the news story right before is of Furcal's second DUI. That's a bad thing, yes, but he's still in the game, so how about we focus on some baseball, hm?


K #1 for Wright to lead things off. That's how we like to start.

Even still, this game scares me. Houston has a great line-up, and you never want to face Clemens in the playoffs (I don't care about the Game One thing, he's still a great pitcher, which Mr. Brantley will tell us at great length, I'm sure). I don't doubt the Braves will win, it's just gonna be a great game, and an excellent chance to see what Jared Wright's made of.


Is that Marcus Giles stealing a base? Not a bad idea after Furcal missed the bunt single opportunity. Works quite well after a wild pitch from the Rocket. That's why Bobby Cox has won 13 straight titles....

On another note -- what the heck is on Ausmus' helmet? I can't decide if it's a horse skull or if he thinks he's the Punisher? Can anyone give me a hint?

Meanwhile, we've got bases full of Braves with Mr. Clutch himself, Johnny Estrada. This is the guy you want at the plate with runners in scoring position. He's done an absolute whale of a job replacing Javy Lopez, mostly by playing every game as opposed to 4 of 5. True to form, there's a sac fly -- Braves on the board, 1-0!



Braves can't get a run across with guys on second and third, one out. Follow that with a lead-off (first pitch!) homer from Brad "Skullz" Ausmus, and suddenly we're tied. Perhaps I should invest in that Skullz helmet and see if it can improve my Skillz like it seems to have done for Brad....

Aside from that blip, Jared Wright is pitching a heck of a game. Four K's after he strikeout Biggio (again). Hasn't found himself in too many jams, yet either.

No sooner did I type that than Bagwell smacks a two-out double, scoring Carlos Beltran. Fantastic. I'll shut up now.


Didn't do it soon enough. Berkman knocks in Bagwell and himself, hitting a line drive screaming over the right field fence. Wright gets out of the inning, but four runs score. That's why they make two halves to an inning (I hope).


Ouch. That's the second inning in a row to have at least two on and one out and come away with nothing -- that's what makes him a great pitcher, while Jared Wright (a fine pitcher, don't get me wrong) has had no more than one runner on base for the whole game, and he's given up 4 runs.

I've got to stop talking about Jared Wright -- as I'm typing this, he gets nailed solidly on the leg. He'll stay in, and gets his man out on the first pitch. I'll wager he's got another 2-3 innings in him, as long as he can get past the Punisher, Brad Ausmus. Yes, sir! Strike-em-out, throw-em-out, the second in my favor in two playoff games! Into the dugout, where that ankle hopefully won't tighten up....


Well, crap. Beltran knocks one over the wal, scoring two, that'll be 6-1 Astros. That's it and that's all for Jared Wright. Gave up six runs, but never really found himself in a pressure situation -- actually faced fewer batters/inning than Clemens had to this point, but just couldn't get the third out. Kevin Grybowski can't do it either, as a two-out triple makes it 7-1. Braves still have 5 innings at bat left, and Clemens should be out soon. Chipper saves a run with a big stop at third, ending the inning. Down sixe runs with half the game to go. We'd come back from larger decifits, but let's get to the bullpen as quick as we can, eh, Braves?


Ok, Andruw stops the bleeding with a solo shot, making it 7-2, but Bobby sends a pinch hitter for Grybowski in the fifth inning. Seems a little early to me, but I guess with 2 outs and a runner on and down five runs, you'd rather have Dewayne Wise at the plate than a guy who's had at most 10 at bats all year.... Fly out to the left fielder ends the inning, but it does get Clemens out of the game, and I'll put our pen against Houston's pen any day. Course, we've spotted them five runs, so it's still a stretch for us to pull this out.

Between innings, here's a quick advertisement:


Thanks. Back to the game.


K, sctratch that. Clemens comes back in, despite six walks, two wild pitches and almost 100 total pitches. Furcal hits a lead-off triple off that -- kid can flat-out FLY -- and Clemens is still in. Can I please, please, please hear echoes of leaving Pedro in for too long in last year's Game 7? Furcal scores on a groundout, so the lead's down to 4 with 3 2/3 inning left for the Braves to bat.

Two quick outs after that, and Clemens is through 6 with a 7-3 lead. And throwing well. Scary well. I won't be surprised ot see him in the 7th. Marvelous.


Jeff Brantley is quickly showing why he's the biggest ass in the west. Two hitters after Cruz hits Carlos Beltran in the ribs (on accident, the look in the kid's face was of anguish, not of triumph), and Brantley's STILL talking about how it had to have been on purpose because the kid's a righty. Maybe it's because... he's a KID! Hmmmmm... common sense seems not to be strong in thee Jeff Brantley (though this IS the same guy that picked the Cubs to win the wild card with three games left in the season...). Another line drive off the leg of a Braves pitcher (that HAD to be on purpose, right Jeff?) scores Beltran, and it's now 8-3. Cruz looks to be ok, as he gets another K, Braves have 9 outs to score 5 runs.


All quiet on the home front, with neither the Braves nor the Astros doing much against the pens. If this all plays out the way the first eight innings did, I don't think this is THAT bad of a loss, because Jared didn't pitch that bad of a game, just got hit hard at the wrong times, and the Rocket didn't pitch all that well, but got out of jam after jam after jam. The Braves cannot bank on six walks every game, but if they fix a couple things between now and tomorrow, they can still win the game. The Astros will not win both games at home in a playoff series, I don't care how loud the crowd is, so if we can win tomorrow, we'll be back in Atlanta for Game Five. This is gonna be a much better series than this game shows, esp. after Reitsma gives up a leadoff home run to make it 9-3.


Ick. Not the best of games for the Braves, but that's why it's a series, after all. Houston leads 1-0, but there are four games left to play, the next tomorrow afternoon with two red-hot pitchers in Roy Oswalt and Mike Hampton pitching. Should be a good one, and a must-win for the Braves. I think Hampton's on a better streak than ol' Roy, so we'll say the Braves head to the Juice Box tied, needing to take at least one in Houston to get games back in Atlanta (though now they have to win both to make me right -- they'll get at least one, but even I'm not sure if they can get both). Great job to the Astros, and best of luck to both teams tomorrow.

October 05, 2004

Three 1-0 leads in the right direction...

Three games down, all in the favor I guessed. Too early to gloat, but it's nice to be a third of the way right to start off three series. The big one starts tomorrow, not because they're my pick to win it all, but because they're the biggest reason I watch baseball. Best of luck to the Astros, but you'll forgive my lack of sympathy if this isn't the year you win your first playoff series.

Big props to the Twins for playing all 9 innings against a dangerous Yankee team. I'll keep saying it until the Twins meet the Braves -- Pitching. Wins. Series. I'll shorten that to PWS, I think, since I'll be saying it a lot. Tremendous defense doesn't hurt either -- five double plays in nine innings is astounding, though it scares me that the Yankees seemed to always have a runner on in a 2-run game. Torii Hunter got his wish -- robbing A-Rod of extra bases (I'm still not convinced that ball would've gone over the fence, but it would've caused major damage even off the wall).

Sox handled the Angels -- that may not be as good a series as I thought it would be. Chalk that debacle, though, to the Angels pitching their top three guys in the last series of the season (which they had to win to make the playoffs, and this column, at all). I think Wednesday's Pedro-Colon matchup should be a much better indication of how tight this series will be. Vlad lived up to my expectation of being the wild card, though I didn't think he'd go 0-5 with 2 K's. He'll pick up the pace today, and it'll be a much better game. Though if Boston wins big again, hey, I picked the Sox, so no biggie. :)

Cards win 8-3, and it wasn't even THAT close. I don't think we'll see Gagne at all this series, esp. with former Yankees choker Weaver topping the mound Thursday night in Game 2. Here's hoping the redbirds get the hits out of their system by the NLCS -- I'll guess they put a 10-spot on the board in Game 2.

Red Sox win (1-0).
Cards win (1-0).
Twins win (1-0).

Let's get the 4th right Wednesday.

October 04, 2004

Braves win! Braves win!

Ok, so it's been a while since I last posted -- luckily no one reads this anyway, so nobody missed it!! :-
Congrats to SpaceShipOne, the first non-government funded flight to hit the edge of space twice. The second flight was this morning, and congrats also to Erika Wagner, our own Dore on the Scene, who earned the chance to see it firsthand. Way to go, sis! The engineers won a prize of $10,000,000 for their success. I personally think it sucks that for breaking a historic arrier, they only get half as much as A-Rod makes a YEAR for a hitting a little round ball, but that's another post entirely.

Speaking of baseball, the playoffs are set!! The Braves are making their 13th straight appearance as a division champ, despite a vast majority of baseball pundits placing them third. Eight teams, on champion, eh? Here's how it'll boil down. I'll guarentee the results, but not the game numbers...


Pitching wins championships -- look at VU and USC in the SEC tourney this year, both with excellent pitching and defense, and both ended up in the final. Santana v. Mussina, Radke v. Leiber, then El Duque or K. Brown v. Silva? I'll take the Twins, thanks (the team with 20-, 11-, and 14- game winners as opposed to 12-, 14-, and 10-/8-game winners), and they'll win it in the Metrodome in 4.

Anaheim hosts Boston. Team Hot v. Team Not-in-a-good-long-time. This will be the best of the division series, and maybe, just maybe, of the whole postseason. Great pitching matchups make it that close, even with the high-octane offense of the Red Sox. Vlad Geurerro will be the wild card throughout the series, and he can carry this team on his back (that's why he's the MVP this year). Even with Vlad, though, I think the Red Sox have the edge -- they showed a lot of moxie to make the AL East race close to the last week, and you KNOW they want another shot at the Yankees. They won't get that chance, but only because they'll meet the Twins in the Pennant Series, getting there in 5 (2 of those wins in Extras, including Game 5).


The Dodgers are in! The Dodgers are in! They play the Cardinals! Oh.

Not Game Over -- Dream Over, Gagne. Cardinals sweep, and you blow a save in only the pressure situation you've been in since the '03 All-Star Game -- oh, wait, you blew that too, so your streak doesn't count.

Braves v. Astros. Yes, you all know that I'm a homer, I'll say it right now. I'm a homer. No drama in my picking Atlanta to win. Let me tell you why. Remember that pitching wins championships, and that gives Houston the edge? Not so fast. As good as the Astros pitchers are, Atlanta's starting pitching is on a bigger roll, and there's not a better NL closer in CLUTCH situations than John Smoltz. Also, over the past few years, the Astros have been swept three times by the Braves in the NLDS. No sweep, but Houston leaves the Juice Box disappointed after Game 4.

Ok, let's review. Twins over Yanks, Sox over Angels, Cards sweep the Dodgers, and the Braves over the 'Stros. On to the two-headed Championship monster.


I'm going NL first because you know who I'm picking already, and I'll save the AL for some drama. :) Braves over the Cards in 5. Yep, FIVE. Why? The Cards won 100 games, they've got 3 MVP candidates, half their squad was on my fantasy team last year -- have I NO loyalty?

None whatsoever.

Pitching wins championships, not hitting. I'll take Wright, Ortiz, and Thompson over anything the Cards can throw back. I'll take Smoltz over anyone in the NL. I'll take 13 straight seasons of playoff experience over the however few the Cards have since '91. I'll take a 3-game sweep at home after Atlanta takes one of the first two games in St. Louis. Let the hate mail begin (that's michaelponeill2003@yahoo.com).


Yikes. This is a rough pick, as the teams match up pretty well, but the Twins have the advantage in pitching, which in my book beats the advantage the Sox have in hitting. That factored in with my not wanting the bad karma of the Braves having to play a potential Destiny's Child in Boston puts the Twins over the top in yet another fantastic series that rivals the Sox/Angels tussle in competiton (NOT competitiveness, you damned journalistic wankers) and drama. Seven games, 2 again in extras.

There you have it. Braves v. Twins for all the marbles. It's '91 all over again, but the latest end of the Braves' streak will not be the same as the beginning.

World Series. Redemption.

If you're from Atlanta, this reads like a fairy tale. No one picked the Braves to win the reg. series, the NLDS, and are overwhelming underdogs in the NLCS. Yet here they are, a Sid Bream slide away from the biggest miracle in team history.

Here's what we need before the Series even starts. We need a pay-per-view steel cage match between (who else?) Ron Gant and Kent Hrbek. Who wouldn't pay to see this? You could even have Kirby Puckett as Hrbek's manager, stumbling around in blind-man glasses and a cane, bumping into the cage every now and then to put joy in the hearts of every Braves fan. How can Ted Turner NOT make this happen? (Again, all hate mail should be sent to michaelponeill2003@yahoo.com)

Anyway, back to the actual competition. Congrats to both teams on making it back, congrats to the 34 other Braves fans who stayed by their team with me, here's where we reap what we've sown.

I've said it all throughout the page, pitching wins championships. Here comes the exception to prove the rule. I'll grant that the starting pitching for Minnesota has the edge, but there's too much for the Braves to play for, especially Smoltz, the only returning Brave from the '91 series. It's going to look eerily like the '91 series, with MN winning the first two games, then Atlanta sweeping at home (which will make them perfect for the postseason).

Game 6, where it turned around for the Twins in '91, will be their downfall. Remember Puckett's amazing catch in '91? Andruw Jones, 12th inning pulls back a would-be 2-run homer that would've been enough to beat the one-run they put in the top half of the frame. Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!

There you have it. Braves in 4, then 5, then 6 to win it all. Think I'm off-base? Tell me so, and I'll post YOUR predictions right here, anyone who beats mine wins a frosty beverage.

To that let me add that I'll be updating more often, and would love to hear some feedback! Shoot me an email or just post a response. Don't forget to catch SeaLab on [adult swim].