National League Championship Series (NLCS) Preview

by James Generic

2013 National League Championship Series Preview

Thank God, the divisional series is over. That’s a lot of very meaningful baseball to watch. Full disclosure, I began a romantic relationship when the playoffs started, and we have begun our new partnership by watching a whole ton of games to see what happens next. Sure, I go to a lot of games during the year and the Phillies are a near daily part of my experience during the regular season, but christ, I can listen to that on the radio and still do other things. So me and my ladyfriend Megan have bonded over the stress of having to see as much of sudden-death hardball as is humanly possible. We’re romantically enabling each other’s baseball additions.

Harjit rightfully took me off previewing the American League games after I enraged all of his west coast friends by calling for the Tigers to win in 3 and insulting sabermetrics and by claiming that Billy Beane hates managers (I actually thought Tigers in 4 or 5, and Melvin is a damn good manager, and Beane is a genius.) Instead, I will cover the National League Championship Series while he gets the DH’s and double switch-less ALCS.

Los Angeles Dodgers

2013 record: 92 wins, 70 losses
Hanley Ramirez

Hot-Hitting Hanley Handing High-fives (Image courtesy flckr user keithallison, bad alliteration uncredited)

Why You Shoot Root For Them: It’d be a fun coincidence for the Dodgers to win it all in the year where the fantastic film 42 brought Jackie Robinson back into the limelight, wouldn’t it? Though the film took more or less the official line about Branch Rickey signing Robinson out of the goodness of his own heart and not even mentioning the years-long campaign  by Communist sports organizations and CP sports writers like Lester Rodney, it does take a step forward by giving Wendell Smith, an influential sportswriters from the Pittsburgh Courier of the Black Press. The glitzy, movie-staresque Los Angeles Dodgers certainly bare little resemblance to the blue-collar Brooklyn Dodgers, the team of the underdog in the 1940s-50s, though. Historically speaking, though, of the 4 teams left vying for the MLB title, the Dodgers have won the longest time ago, when they captured their sixth franchise title in 1988.

Of the current team, Cy Young front-runner Clayton Kershaw has absolutely dominated the NL, last pitched on short rest to doom the Braves. Leftfielder Carl Crawford and 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez stepped above their Boston disasters, though they are collectively owed $180 million in the next 5 years. Hanley Ramirez limped into the playoffs but continued his hot-hitting ways. The 22 year old Cuban rookie of the year candidate rightfielder Yasiel Puig has served as a lightning rod of both criticism (which has some truth but also some racial overtones to it) and fan embrace, as well as an epic band (Puig Destroyer) . With the fantastic Zach Greinke, who has overcome diagnosed social anxiety to serve as the team’s number 2 ace on the mound, and a rejuvenated Brian Wilson (no earned runs ever given up in the post season) and his cancerous beard (no shaves ever in the post season), the Dodgers are well poised to represent the senior circuit in the World Series, and Timmy must be stoked about that.

Why You Should Root Against Them: The Dodgers have won 6 titles. Los Angeles as a city has boasted multiple championships across all sports, with the Kings most recently winning an NHL championship. Let’s not even mention the evilness of the Lakers. There is a lot of distractions in southern California. Plus, your laid back Dodgers fan doesn’t even show up on time for the damn game, and then leaves early to beat traffic! You must suffer through traffic if you want to enjoy a championship. And let’s just say it, even though I’m fine with players getting paid: the Dodgers boast a $216 million roster, dwarfing all others by $50 million. Also, this site hosts out of the Bay Area, and I know a lot of Giants fans frequent it or work on it (Harjit).

Some stats:

Kershaw: 33 GS, 236 IP, 1.83 ERA , 7.9 WAR
Greinke: 28 GS, 177.2 IP, 2.63 ERA, 3.9 WAR
Gonzalez: 157 G,.293 AVG, .342 OBP, .461 SLG,  3.9 WAR
Puig: 104 G,.319 AVG, .391 OBP .534 SLG,  5.0 WAR
Ramirez: 86 G,.345 AVG, .402 OBP, .638 SLG,  5.4 WAR

St. Louis Cardinals:

 2013 record: 97 wins,  losses
Matt Holliday

The Indomitable Matt Holliday (Image courtesy flckr user keithallison)

Why You Should Root For Them: They’re good, and they stay good. They survived the retirement of super-skipper Tony La Russa just fine. Built upon a dominant pitching staff and bullpen headed by cruisin’ bruisin’ starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, they boast a cast of hitting characters from the indomitable leftfielder Matt Holliday, rightfielder Carlos Beltran, post-season clutchman David Freese, gold-glover Yadier Molina and career-year 2nd baseman Matt Carpenter. They survived the loss of Pujols with Allen Craig, who in turned was replaced by rookie Matt Adams, who sealed the Cards win over the Pirates in Game 5 of the NLDS. Michael Wacha (one of Harjit’s favorites and a Fozzie the Bear WACHA WACHA reference) almost no-hit the Pirates and only has 9 career starts. They are a good mix of youth and veteran experience. And they just keep on winning. On offense, they are just a juggernaut, scoring a league leading 783 to the Dodgers 649, while allowing 596 to the Dodgers 582.

Why You Should Root Against Them: I detailed in the Divisional Series preview of the haughtiness of your entitled gentlemanly aristocratic Cardinals Nation, who have appeared in 6 of the previous 12 NLCS’s. The utter politeness of your Missouri overlords should enrage any good dirtball.

Some stats:

Wainwright: 34 GS, 241.2 IP, 2.94 ERA , 6.2 WAR
Miller: 33 GS, 173.1 IP, 3.06 ERA , 3.4 WAR
Holliday: 141 G, .296, .389 OBP, .490 SLG, 2.7 WAR
Beltran: 145 G, .300 AVG, .339 OBP, .491 SLG, 2.4 WAR
Carpenter: 157 G, .318 AVG, .392 OBP, .481 SLG, 6.6 WAR
Molina: 136 G, .319 AVG, .359 OBP, .477 SLG, 5.7 WAR

Prediction:

Cardinals in 7-James
Dodgers in 7-Harjit
Dodgers in 3-Timmy

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