Home > Game Previews, MLB > NLDS Previews: The Real Playoffs Start Here (No Matter What MLB.tv Says)

NLDS Previews: The Real Playoffs Start Here (No Matter What MLB.tv Says)

Now that the wildcards are out of the way, we can move on to the actual playoffs. Both of the National League matchups start today, the first of which being between the Braves and the Dodgers.

The narrative writes itself: The Dodgers are the loose, easygoing, devil-may-care group that thumbs its collective nose at baseball’s traditions; the Braves adhere strictly to the game’s unwritten code, going so far as to physically intimidate or punish those who go against it. The Dodgers jumped (and apparently peed) in the Diamondbacks’ pool after they clinched the National League West; the Braves got so bent out of shape that someone had the unmitigated gall to be happy he hit a homerun that they didn’t even let him cross home plate before starting a brawl over it.

That’s an easy narrative, to be sure, but the two teams’ personalities won’t have nearly as much to do with the outcome of the games as the health and talent of their players. After an injury-plagued start to the season, the Dodgers finally got mostly healthy about halfway through, and we all saw what they did. Unfortunately, they now find themselves without one or perhaps two of their biggest bats; Matt Kemp is definitely done for the year, and Andre Ethier may be able to do no more than pinch-hit, if that. Skip Schumaker and Dee Gordon are likely to see the majority of the playing time in center field. Atlanta, meanwhile, will be without Dan Uggla; his absence is more related to his being terrible then any injury, however. This proclivity to avoid horrible players is a relatively new trait for them; after all, they did give BJ Upton $75 million.

Speaking of horrible, the Braves have also made the on-the-surface horrible decision to start Freddy Garcia in game four, should the series go that far. Even if they weren’t stupid traditionalist dicks, and even if they weren’t going up against a team that decided “fuck prospects, let’s just throw all the money at all our problems,” I would say they deserve to lose for that reason, and no other.

Of course, they ARE stupid traditionalist dicks, and they ARE going against the one team owned by billionaires that decided “hey, we’re billionaires and there’s no salary cap, so let’s spend ALL THE MONEY.” That team also just happens to have Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. So I’ll say Dodgers in four, and I hope they beat the drums in center field afterward while Brian McCann sits in the dugout and pouts.

Sportspun: First off, let’s ignore the Matt Kemp factor; the Dodgers were pretty damn good without getting much from the one-time MVP contender, so like Uggla, his injury is more a footnote than a difference-maker in predicting this series. Ethier’s absence is a lot more critical, but the Braves’ stupidity about Garcia may be the real issue. Apparently the decision was guided by Paul Maholm’s poor performance over the last month as much as Garcia’s strong one; much like Scott Downs being left off due to a poor 14 innings in Atlanta, this… does not scream of an intelligent decision-making process.

Still, I’m a stupid traditionalist dick myself when it comes to baseball, and if the Braves are the last line of defense for the idea of shutting your mouth and playing the game instead of ostentatious celebrating and gratuitous displays of emotion, they’re my team here. Unfortunately, while this should be a closer series than the media and odds-makers say, those poor pitching decisions may be the last straw for Atlanta. Dodgers in four, which means they’ll at least “have to” celebrate at home.

Goog: What, there’s another series? Oh, right. Well, the Cardinals are better and didn’t have to burn their ace just to get here, but the Pirates are really fun, so…Pirates in four? Yeah, that works.
Sportspun Liriano’s the guy I’d want on the mound, but let’s not sell Gerrit Cole short. AJ Burnett… well, who the hell knows? I think the Pirates will make this competitive even with just one Liriano start. But while they beat St. Louis 10-9 in the season series, they’ve been playing over their heads all year, and that sort of thing should never be expected to hold up. I’ll be rooting to be wrong, but Cardinals in 5.

  1. October 3, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    How is “yell at guys and stop them from crossing the plate” part of “shut your mouth and play the game?” If Brian McCann had just shut his mouth and played the game, there wouldn’t have been a problem.

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