Cold Head Larry, rally monkey and Disney characters: What more do ALCS, NLCS need?
The Coast Guard has just rescued a guy who has been adrift in the ocean for two weeks on a disabled pleasure boat. And this guy’s first question was, what time do the Yankees play the Athletics tonight in the ALCS?
Poor dope. Here’s some things you won’t be seeing in this year’s World Series: Roger Clemens flinging shards of wood at opposing hitters; any shade of green uniform; tomahawk chop; Randy Johnson’s anemic batting stroke; shirtless father and son rushing onto the field to beat up a first-base coach.
What you still might see: Rally monkey; homer hankies; McCovey Cove; Steve Kline’s filthy, disgusting game hat (available on e-Bay for $9.95).
We here in this space find it refreshing that the teams with the highest payrolls, the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Braves, have been eliminated. We take not-so-secret delight in the image of George Steinbrenner cursing and
throwing office supplies at Jason Giambi. You know, if Giambi had he only stayed with the Athletics, he might still be playing. But we don’t take as much delight in that as we do with the previous Steinbrenner thing.
Over in the National League, The “Big Unit” is still trying to figure out what happened in Game 1 of the NLDS, where he was unceremoniously rocked.
Lichtenstein had more success topping the Nazis than Johnson did against the Cardinals.
With both LCSs underway, let’s take a look at how we think things are going to proceed.
ALCS — Minnesota vs. Anaheim (Twins lead, 1-0)
Twins fans got a chance to raise the roof in the Metrodome on Tuesday, when only seven short months ago Bud Selig was trying to raze the roof there. This is starting to look like the script to The Natural, where the baseball powers-that-be want the Knights to lose, but the players have other ideas.
“You’re a very obstinate man, Mr. Hobbs!”
Here are the keys to victory for the Twins:
1. Play all your games in the Metrodome, where you are 12-2 in the postseason. When it’s time to go to Anaheim, come up with an excuse. “Um, we can’t travel because our grandmothers are sick. We need to stay close to home.”
2. Bullpen must come up big. With J.C. Romero and Johan Santana from the left side and right-handers LaTroy Hawkins and Kyle Lohse, Minnesota shut down the A’s. In fact, we say skip the starters and go right to the relievers.
Now, for Anaheim, it’s important to remember that the team is owned by the Walt Disney Company, which means that no employee of ESPN is allowed to make a negative comment about the Angels.
In fact, if you were to log on to ESPN.com right now — all they have is Angels’ statistics, and they seem very inflated (Garrett Anderson did not hit 75 home runs this year). When you click on Minnesota, all you get is photos of Zorro. It’s just not right.
Keys for Anaheim:
1. Do not frighten the rally monkey. Sudden movements or loud noises, such as hoots or whistles, could shock the monkey, and there could be trouble.
2. Keep fans awake past the fourth inning. Who are we kidding? This is Anaheim vs. Minnesota, and you’ll lose interest by Game 3. Antiques Roadshow will get bigger ratings. And so, all Disneyland mascots are hereby summoned to all Angels’ home games in this series — we just pray that your charming antics will be enough.
PREDICTION: Angels in seven.
NLCS — San Francisco vs. St. Louis (Giants lead, 1-0).
The Giants met the Cardinals in the NLCS in 1987, and we’d like to tell you what happened but sadly those records were lost in a fire. We do know that the last time Tony La Russa faced the Giants in the World Series was 1989, when he directed the Oakland A’s to a four-game sweep. Of course, we tend to forget that La Russa only needed two pitchers to get the job done that year, as an earthquake interrupted the proceedings.
It’s common knowledge that dogs and other animals can predict earthquakes, and the contention was that La Russa’s animal pals tipped him that the quake was on its way. Some even say that the beasts somehow caused the disaster, a charge that was never proven. At any rate the whole thing was tainted, and the Cardinals’ skipper is looking for redemption.
Meanwhile, it is known that Giants’ manager Dusty Baker is fond of hunting and fishing, as is second baseman Jeff Kent. So what will happen when La Russa, the animal lover, faces a team that also loves animals, but only with the right barbecue sauce? Well, the fur will fly, so to speak.
Keys to victory for the Cardinals:
1. St. Louis will need to get Scott Rolen back in the lineup, pronto. At this level you can’t afford a big hole in your batting order — his 31 homers and 110 RBI during the regular season will be sorely missed. On the bright side, at least Rolen’s injury occurred during a game, on national television. He didn’t have to make up a lame excuse like he was washing his truck and fell off, or he tripped over the family dog.
2. The Cardinals do not have any major gimmicks, such as the tomahawk chop, and that’s a plus. All they have is one guy in the upper reserved section who places a frozen malt on his head in the sixth inning, whom they call Cold Head Larry. Anything more than that would be distracting.
Keys to victory for the Giants:
1. Don’t let Steve Kline’s hat beat you. This thing is very dirty, and it’s easy to become hypnotized by its sheer grubbiness. Wear nose plugs. Avoid any plays where the pitcher covers first base. (If Cardinals win, QVC will offer them at $21. Order # 456A-66890).
2. Patrick Hayashi must catch more home run balls than Philip Ozersky. Hayashi is the guy who caught Barry Bonds’ 73rd home run ball at Pac Bell Park in 2001, and Ozersky is the guy who caught Mark McGwire’s 71st homer in St. Louis in ’98. How often do we get a chance to see two Hall-of-Famers square off in the same series? We are truly blessed.
PREDICTION: Giants in 3 (sadly, another earthquake).
— Rick Chandler’s interactive sports column, Capacity Crowd, can be found at NBCSports.com
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