While I am appalled at the use of steroids in major league baseball (and all sports for that matter), the whole turn of events in the steroid investigations feel like a flashback to McCarthyism. Back in those dark days, if you were accused of being a communist you either gave up the names of other "communists" or were blacklisted. Now we are seeing the same type of activity when focused on steroid use in baseball. It all started with the Balco investigations. This led to retired baseball player Jose Conseco telling all in his book Juiced. In it Conseco points fingers at all of the "users" around him using spotty facts in the process. The intent besides selling books was to deflect attention away from Conseco to others such as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Now we get the accusatory finger from journeyman pitcher Jason Grimsley who (likely with the help of his defense attorneys) implicated sure-to-be Hall of Fame pitcher Roger Clemens and his close teammate Andy Pettitte. Grimsley's house was searched after he admitted to using human growth hormone (HGH). Grimsley then agreed to cooperate with investigators, no doubt agreeing to give up other names in exchange for his own freedom. Sounds to me like McCarthyism in the ballpark.
I hope this does not take away from the most joyous time of year for baseball fans - the playoffs and the fall classic, the World Series.
As for my picks this fall, here they go:
AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES
Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees - The Bengals had the best start in MLB under manager extraordinaire Jim Leyland. However, they also managed to stumble their way in the last half of the season losing the division title on the final day of the regular season after getting swept by the inept Kansas City Royals. The Yankees are too deep to fall victim in the best of five ALDS. Yanks in 4.
Oakland Athletics vs. Minnesota Twins - As bad as the Tigers were since the All-Star break, the Twins were one of the best teams (along with the Yankees) in the back half of the season. Oakland has a good pitching staff but their bats don't scare opposing pitchers. The veteran Frank Thomas is several years removed from his prime but could show flashes of his old self in a short series. Twinkies in 5.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CHANMPIONSHIP SERIES
Minnesota vs. NY Yankees - Both teams were hot in the second half of the season with the Yankees sporting the best record in baseball along with the cross town NL rival NY Mets. Hitting advantage goes to the Yankees. The starting pitching is even and a Johan Santana (Twins) match up with Chien-Ming Wang (Yanks) could occur twice and create some classic pitching duels. When it comes to hitting the Yankees are head and shoulders above the Twins. The Homer Dome in the Twin Cities could be a sandbox for the Yankee Hall of Fame lineup. Yanks in 6.
NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES
NY Mets vs. LA Dodgers - The Mets were the best team in the NL and the most consistent throughout the season. The Trolley Dodgers ended strong to capture the Wild Card. While the Mets will go without Pedro Martinez in this best of five round, I believe that the Metropolitans are still the better team without him. LA has a nice line-up of veterans players but the power in the Mets lineup will more than compensate for Martinez' absence. Willie Randolph will also out manage Grady "I Should Not Have Left Pedro Martinez In" Little. Amazins in 4.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Diego Padres - A very religious match up. The Pads sport the career saves leader Trevor Hoffman. That still does not make him the best reliever of all-time or at the current time for that matter. Despite the Cards late season swoon they still have the best hitter in the game, Albert Pujols. Pujols will make sure that Hoffman does not get to do his job. Red Birds in 4.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets - In a 7 game series I believe that the starting pitching advantage swings to the Cardinals favor as: the Met's Martinez is out; Tom Glavine only has one start in his tired arm and his career in the post season is spotty at best; and, Steve Trachsel is unreliable. This leaves only the ageless El Duque to carry the starting pitching on his shoulders. The Mets bullpen will be tested. The Cards still have Pujols. I predict an upset with the Cards winning in 6.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Yankees. A rematch of the 1964 World Series in which Bob Gibson led the Cards to a victory and was well documented by David Halberstam in October 1964. Starting pitching, bullpen, hitting, manager, coaching advantage all go to the Yankees. Sure the Cardinals have Pujols but the Yanks have perhaps the most potent lineup with Damon-Jeter-Abreu-Sheffield-Matsui-Rodriguez-Giambi-Posada-Cano. Not close but I will give the Cards a game. Yanks in 5.