This Week: The Potpourri Of Sports And The Mfan Nfl Picks For Week 7!

Marc Elliott

SCANLON… Have you been watching the MLB playoffs? I have, and I must say that I have seen some excellent, very exciting games so far. As I have noted previously, I am no fan of the new wildcard “extension” series preceding the real playoffs (although the Cards-Braves tilt was awesome, crummy umpiring notwithstanding), but since then, man oh man! All four of the Divisional series went five games, and just about all of the Game 4s and 5s were exciting tilts in their own right.

The series between the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland A’s was phenomenal. In Game 4 last Wednesday eve, with the A’s down 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth, they scored three runs to win 4-3 and tie the series at two apiece. The next night turned out to be anticlimactic, though, with the Tigers smacking the A’s 6-0 to take the series and a spot in the ALCS.

The series between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles had some intense baseball moments as well. In Game 3, for instance, with the Yanks down 2-1 in the bottom of the 9th, Yankee skipper Joe Girardi pulled star player Alex Rodriguez for pinch hitter Raul Ibanez, who homered to tie it and then hit a 2nd dinger in the bottom of the 12th to win it for the pinstripers. This was just an appetizer for the next night, when the Birds would have to take it to 13 innings to win 2-1 to stay alive and set up the deciding Game 5. This game didn’t possess the juice of the previous two games and was won by the Yanks 3-1; they advanced to take on the Tigers.

Thus far in the ALCS, the Tigers have taken a quick 2-0 lead with the series now heading to the Motor City. Former Twins player Delmon Young was the Game 1 hero, going three for six with three RBIs and a solo homer to pace the Tigers. This game looked like it was cruising along for a Tiger win in regulation, but the Yanks put up 4 runs in the bottom of the ninth to send it to extras. Then with a runner on first, Young smacked a double that I swear had actual rocket smoke on it and scored the man on base. With a pinch runner in for Young, Andy Dirks brought him in for a 6-4 lead. Yanks captain Derek Jeter, already playing on an injured ankle, finished it—and his season—by tweaking it on a ground ball play to him.
I am not a guy who cares much for the Yanks (I am tired of their $200mil rosters and the whole Yankee “thing”), but I have always admired Jeter. He is a classy guy and I’m sorry to see him out of the tourney. From the ninth inning on, with the Fan Jr. on the phone with me direct from the Iron Range, we turned and twisted through every intense moment of the game. It was awesome. Today the Tigers beat the Yanks 3-0 in a methodical game that put them in the driver’s seat heading home. The rest of this series should be interesting.
In the National League, the one and only series I didn’t follow too closely out of the entire playoff was the one between the Cincinnati Reds and the San Francisco Giants. The Reds won Games 1 and 2 out at the Bay to bring a 2-0 lead to Cincy. The Giants then proceeded to end the Reds’ quest for the NLCS by winning the next three games and the series. I had observed the Reds quite a bit over the summer and thought they had a chance to win it all, but he Giants had other ideas.

This brings me to the series between the Washington Nationals and my second favorite team (and only other behind the Twins), the St. Louis Cardinals. The clubs split Games 1 and 2 in the Gateway City. The Cards hammered the Nats 8-0 in Game 3, and the Nats won Game 4 2-1 in dramatic fashion, with a walk-off homer to set up one of the most epic Game 5s I have ever seen. The Nats got up 6-0 on the Cards by the end of the 3rd inning. Then the Cards started chipping away. Going into the top of the ninth down 7-5, the Cards scored four times for a 9-7 lead, which would be the eventual final. The Cards won the series 3-2 and advanced to take on the Giants. After they got the third out, stunning the SRO crowd, it was so quiet in that stadium you could have heard a mouse pass gas. And yes, once again the Fan Jr. and I were burning up our telecommunication devices. The Cardinals won Game 1 of the NLCS in San Fran tonight 6-4 for a 1-0 series lead.

My prediction of a Reds-Yanks finale is in the toilette, and with the Tigers only needing two more victories out of a possible five games, I like their chances more than I do those of a tired-looking Yankee club. The Orioles’ series took a toll on the stripers, simple as that. But, I would caution, never count the Yanks out of anything. Cards and Giants? I can’t draw a bead on that one. The Giants are a pretty good club. I didn’t think they were the best NL team this year, but here they are. As for the Cards? They weren’t the best NL team either, so I don’t know what to say except that if it’s October, throw out everything you thought you knew. This is one club you DON’T want to play… PEACE  

(HOME team in CAPS)
SAN FRAN over Seabirds
BUFF over Tenn
Brownies over INDY
NYG over Wash
Saints over BUCS
Boys over CARO
TEXANS over B-more
Cheese over GOATMEN
VIKES over Cards
PATS over J-e-t-s
OAK over Jax
BEAR over Lion
Steel over CINCY

WEEK 6 (Incomplete) 4-9
SEASON: 50-40

Marc Elliott is a freelance sports opinion writer who splits time between his hometown in Illinois and Minnesota. Elliott grew up in the Twin Cities with many of his childhood neighbors working or playing for the Vikings and Twins. He participated in baseball, football and hockey before settling on hockey as his own number one sport. Elliott wrote “The Masked Fan Speaks” column for the Lake County News Chronicle for ten years and was a prominent guest on the former “All Sports” WDSM 710AM in Duluth.