Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Orange County Boogaloo: An Angels-Red Sox Preview

This ain't no Baseball In The Daytime--this is MLB's showcase series and therefore TBS will show all the games under the lights. But this matchup does contain some personal relevance here at the HoG, due to old allegiances. On-again off-again baseball analyst Captain Feverpiss has his take on his Angels, my Red Sox and the state of the elections. Enjoy.

Old No. 7: Your team was eliminated by the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007. Both times the Angels were swept, and both times the Red Sox went on to a world title. When it was confirmed that the matchup was once again Los Anaheim-Boston, what was your reaction? Are you thrilled to get another shot?

Captain Feverpiss: My reaction has been mixed. Have the Red Sox had our number for the past three playoff series? Yes. Have the Red Sox won 7 straight postseason games against us? Yes. That being said, I have much more confidence this year due to our overall supremacy against the Sox. We swept them at home and away for the first time ever. We demoralized Ben Affleck and forced Stephen King to write romance novels. I wouldn't say I'm thrilled to "get another shot," I'd say I'm thrilled we have a stronger team than in years past and that the Sox are limping in a bit. The absence of Manny Ramirez helps as well. I always hated having to pitch to either him or Ortiz (or both) the way they stacked the lineup. Without steroids or Manny, Ortiz has proven that he's not all that dangerous.

7: Who's the most important Angels player in this series? What about for the Red Sox?

Feverpiss: For the Angels I think there is a need for a role player to step up. Who will it be? I don't know. I think we need Garrett Anderson, Mike Napoli, Howie Kendrick or Chone Figgins to step up and help the stars (Vlad, Hunter and Teixeira) carry the load. Role players seem to provide that extra edge in a closely matched battle like this. Vlad has not been a big component in the playoffs throughout his career. Hopefully Teixeira will be as good as he's been in the regular season. In my mind, the difference maker will be the Angels' ability to score runs. I think it will be up to a role player to punch out of the mold and get us that extra spark.

Dustin Pedroia is the one to watch on the Red Sox. He's a catalyst that can get their offense moving quickly. If Pedroia can do what he's done all season, get on base and score runs, the Angels are in for a long series.

7: How do you think the new veterans (Torii Hunter and Mark Teixeira) will hold up in the crucible of the ALDS? What about the kids (Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick)?

Feverpiss: I see no reason for concern that the "crucible" will test any of these players. Hunter has been there before, many times. He's a guy with a good sense of humor and should keep things light on the younger guys. Teixeira hasn't been tested on this stage, however all accounts point to the fact that the guy is an adult, a diplomat, and has ice water in his veins. Howie Kendrick would be a guy who I might be concerned about a little, but he's so damn good at making solid contact that I think he'll keep a cool head and do his job.

7: What are you most worried about in Game 1?

Feverpiss: Getting out of the gates early and scoring runs. We have to strike early and often. I know Frankie Rodriguez had a great year and earned some sort of record, but I don't want to see the ball in his hand in Game 1. I need a blow out of epic proportions to be comfortable.

7: You guys have the best road record in the majors--in fact, you went 50-31 both in Anaheim and away from your park. Does this team have any concerns about travelling to Fenway this year or are Games 3 and 4 just run-of-the-mill contests?

Feverpiss: Game 3 will not be just a "run-of-the-mill" contest. Every game these guys play will be vitally important to them and regardless of the Fenway dominance this season, it will be no easy contest. Game 4, if necessary, will be crucial because it will mean that we are either putting the Sox away, or setting a positive tempo for the plane ride home for game 5.

7: Will K-Rod be a Met next season? If so, will Scott Shields close? Jose Arredondo?

Feverpiss: Shields should get it due to seniority. Arredondo is great, but unproven. Arredondo will make a great set up guy next season. Look for Jepsen during the series as well. He may be a key bullpen guy next season.

If there is any justice in the world, K-Rod will be a Met next season and never make another postseason appearance in his career.

7: Is Ervin Santana's resurgence for real? Do you think Joe Saunders will be a sturdy playoff starter? Are you guys going with a four-man rotation or will Lackey come back for Game 4?

Feverpiss: I believe Ervin's resurgence is the real deal. He's always had great stuff, he just always seemed to fall short of expectations as if he was overwhelmed. Maybe the correct analogy would be that Santana was overwhelmed like Jim J. Bullock at his first bukkakke.

Saunders is solid. He won't strike many out (last Sunday's 9 K performance was a fluke), but he'll eat innings and give the Angels a chance to win.

Lackey will be back for game 4, Scoscia doesn't have much confidence in Garland or Weaver right now.

7: In your opinion, does Scoscia manage differently in the playoffs? Does he run differently, take more/fewer chances, use his bullpen strangely? Some guys are better regular season managers than postseason or vice versa, what's your take on your skip?

Feverpiss: I think Mike plays a slightly more aggressive tilt in the postseason. He doesn't necessarily gamble, but he takes an extra base here and there that he normally wouldn't in the regular season. Of course, he will always preach aggressive running on the basepaths, however Mike will tend to really try to take advantage of opportunities and try to open games up in the postseason.

7: I know I asked you earlier in the year about this team versus the 2002 Angels that won it all. How do you personally feel going into October this year, versus the other years you've made the playoffs? Are you more confident? This team seems awfully solid.

Feverpiss: There is much more expectation on this club. We basically went wire to wire, and we are much more talented. No doubt this team has a different style. The 2002 team had a totally different make up and won because they fought hard, not because of sheer talent.

7: OK, I need some predictions from you. Give me a winner for the other three series, the league championships and the World Series.

Feverpiss: Angels vs. Red Sox: Angels in 4.

Chicago vs. Tampa: Tampa in 5.

LA vs. Chicago: Cubs in 3.

Philly vs. Millewaukee: Philly in 4.

ALCS: Angels in 6.

NLCS: Cubs in 7.

World Series: Angels in 7.

Presidential Election: Obama by 8.

If the bailout is passed: Depression for 6 years.

If no government bailout takes place and companies are allowed to fail: Nasty 2 year recession.

7: I personally can't see an 8-point spread in the popular vote. I don't care what the polls say now, that's a pretty massive blowout when you consider where the popular vote has been over the last 20 or so years. If Obama wins it'll be by two or three. I look at electoral votes--if the vote were today I think Obama would take just over 300, with 270 needed to win. But if McCain keeps fucking up his campaign, it could be an electoral massacre with 340 or more for Barack. He's up right now in all the big swing states and could win Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina and Colorado as well. What does McCain have to do to keep it close? What can Obama do to put it away?

Feverpiss: If McCain were smart he'd try to figure out a way to flip flop and start trashing the bail out. I know that would be nearly impossible, but if he wants to win over the independent or swing voter--say no to the bailout.

If Obama wants to put it away, he should start reading Austrian economics and start quoting Mises and Hayek. He should let the McCain camp implode on itself and start talking about fiscal discipline, not entitlement expansion.

7: Ten four. I'll go this way:

ALDS: Red Sox in 5, White Sox in 5.

NLDS: I already took the Cubs and Phillies.

ALCS: White Sox in 6.

NLCS: Cubs in 4.

World Series: South Side over North Side, 7 games.