Monday, October 21, 2013

A sweet World Series prediction and a sweeter victory

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I didn't know Mike Matheny during his playing days, but I respected the intensity, leadership and game-calling skills he brought to the Cardinals. When he left as a free agent after helping the Cardinals get to the 2004 World Series, I columnized that they would miss him terribly.

And they did.

For about a year.

Yadier Molina has become a much better hitter than most thought he would be. Add in those amazing defensive skills, and he is the best all-around catcher of the new millennium. He was a vital part of St. Louis teams that won titles in 2006 and 2011.

Now both Molina and Matheny are back in the World Series with the Cardinals. The former is still as great as ever, and the latter is showing that Tony La Russa isn't the only recent manager who can guide the Cards to greatness.

Logic says to pick the Red Sox to win the World Series, but there's just something about these Cardinals. 

Whether it's some young kid (talkin' 'bout you, Michael Wacha) pitching out of his mind at just the right time ... an important offensive contributor (Allen Craig this time) coming back from injury ... a veteran who has been great forever (Carlos Beltran) finally getting a chance to bask in the Fall Classic glow ... or the reunion of the Molina-Matheny tandem ... I just find the Cardinals' story so compelling.

Unlike 2004, when the Red Sox finally got past the Yankees and then steamrolled the Cardinals to win their first championship of the post-Babe era, this looks to be a crazy-good series.

Cardinals in 7.

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Say what you want about Ozzie Guillen. In 2005, he had the guts to do what no other manager has done for a couple of decades now -- stick with his starting pitchers when the you-know-what hits the fan.

In that year's ALCS, Guillen's pitchers threw four consecutive complete games and the White Sox won that series and then the World Series. If he had failed, he would have been ripped mercilessly. But he didn't.

Fast-forward to this year's ALCS. As good a manager as Jim Leyland has been, he falls right in line with every other skipper today. No matter how dominant his starter has been, he can't resist going to the bullpen in the eighth and ninth innings.

Well, like Guillen in 2005, Leyland didn't have a proven, reliable closer. Unlike Guillen in 2005, Leyland kept taking out the likes of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander ... to tragic results.

The Red Sox deserved to win the series, but one wonders what would have happened if Leyland had the Guillen-like guts to let his aces finish what they started. 

The good news for the Tigers: Scherzer and Verlander will be well-rested for next April!

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Jay Cutler just got even more valuable.

I'm not a big fan of the Bears' whiny, inconsistent QB -- you know, the one with one career playoff victory in eight seasons -- but I'd rather have him than a host of others. Including new QB-by-default Josh McCown.

Cutler looked awfully good standing there in street clothes while Caleb Hanie played in his place a couple of years ago, and McCown will make him look good in absentia, too.

Given that this is a contract year and that the Bears probably weren't going anywhere anyway -- I mean, have you seen what's left of that defense? -- this could end up having been quite a fortuitous injury for Cutler.

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Football ... baseball ... hockey ... basketball ... golf ... auto racing ... there were all kinds of contests over the weekend.

The biggest, of course, was the Best Dessert Competition in the Matthews Plantation subdivision. Won by ...


Is there any wonder why I keep my wife around?

Also, is there any wonder why my belly is round?

Congrats to my Sugar Mama!!
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