This is my favorite playoff series, if only because it’s going to finally put the lie to Bud Selig’s constant lament that no team in the lower half of payroll has ever advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs. The Twins and the A’s were respectively 27th and 28th in ESPN’s Opening Day payroll tally. I’m surprised that the right Honorable Commissioner didn’t intervene and ‘fix’ the matchups in what he might see as the best interests of baseball. One of these teams will win three games and advance, only to be immediately heralded as an aberration, no matter what happens when they face the Yankees.
There are some obvious storylines specific to the Arizona/St. Louis matchup, as derived from the generic list above. Let’s lay those out, and address them one by one:
The Diamondbacks would really prefer to have a healthy Luis Gonzalez.
The Diamondbacks are backing into the playoffs.
The Cardinals are peaking at exactly the right time.
This is a match-up of opposites in many ways, not the least being the teams’ post-season histories. The Yankees have won the World Series 26 times, including four of the past six years. To achieve a similar level of dominance, the Angels would have had to win 10 championships in their 41 years of existence. Instead, they enter the playoffs with the most meager post-season tradition of any Divisional Series participant, with three first-round exits in as many tries.