October 2006

Welcome to the ALCS

I’m here, ready to entertain all of you ALCS watchers for the next week or so, or however long this series goes.

Let me start by saying I love this matchup because nobody would have picked these two teams back in the spring. All those teams who whine about payroll disparity now see how a team can be built with a modest budget and thrive.

The Red Sox and Yankees, with their massive payrolls, are on the golf course. The Tigers and A’s are the last two teams standing in the American League. This is, as my hombre Mychael Urban would say, Good for Ball.Hurt275

Dave Dombrowski and Billy Beane have both done this right. Build from the ground up, and make cost-effective free agent signings and trades.

I got to see the Tigers first-hand in the ALDS and they are a fun bunch to watch. Zumaya might break a radar gun before this series is over. The Tigers are anti-Moneyball in the sense they never look for a walk. This team likes to set the tone.

Is there a baseball fan who doesn’t enjoy watching Jim Leyland manage? This guy is as old school as they get, a blue collar man who demands maximum effort out of his players and knows how to motivate.

The best story involving the A’s is Frank Thomas. The Biggest Hurt of all for Thomas was watching his White Sox win the World Series last year, and being an injured spectator. Big Frank gets the October stage first-hand this year, and he made his presence felt in the sweep over the Twins. He is the best one-dimensional player in baseball — at least this side of David Ortiz. Frank can’t run, he can’t field, but boy, can he hit.

You also have Eric Chavez and Barry Zito, the two survivors from the teams that got bounced in Game 5 of the playoffs four years in a row.

How will Huston Street handle the pressure of closing in the ALCS? Same goes for Todd Jones, the veteran on the other side.

More later, chime in with any and all thoughts.

Ian Browne / MLB.com