Okay, which team gives?
Both teams have the magic carpet ride background story. The Washington Nationals, in the playoffs for the first time in about a thousand years, won an amazing 98 games. Last year, they were just below .500. A couple of years ago, they couldn't take two steps without tripping over their proverbial shoelaces, winning less than 60 games. You almost have to try to be that inept.
But these Nationals are exciting. They win when they should and when they shouldn't. They enigmatically shut down their best pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, while in a pennant race. Who knows when they'll be back this way, after all? Davey Johnson, the old New York Met manager with whom the team won one of their two world championships, should understand the wistfulness of magic. You would have thought the Mets would win year after year the way 1986 played out. It didn't happen. So, the Nationals chained their best pitcher to the bench because he might have thrown too many innings -and in the process, the team may miss the chance of a lifetime to proceed all the way through to the trophy.
Even with that lunacy, the Nationals finished off the division, and then wrestled the first game away from the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoff opener on the road, in the late innings.
The Cardinals? Well, they lose Albert Pujols, manager Tony La Russa, and pitching coach Dave Duncan, and barely miss a step. Like the Yankees, they're another team that doesn't pay much attention to the opponent's magic carpet ride. They've benefited from more than their share of magic through the years, including last year when they had little business emerging triumphant in the World Series. A little clutch hitting and a bunch of Texas Rangers' manager Ron Washington's miscues, mix and stir and voila! They seem to always play the role of underdog, and the results tip their way more often than not.
So, who then falls off the magic carpet? Look for the Cardinals to emerge in five games.
Glenn Vallach has been a New York Mets fan since foolishly abandoning the mighty Yankees in his youth after Mickey Mantle retired. Since the fond, fleeting memories of the Tom Seaver, Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee years, he sits quietly yearning for a fraction of the success enjoyed annually by the team that inhabits the borough in which I was born...waiting and hoping...waiting and hoping.
- · Yahoo! Sports New York Mets page
- · Yahoo! Sports Washington Nationals page
- · Yahoo! Sports St. Louis Cardinals page
- · Yahoo! Sports Albert Pujols page
- · R.B. Fallstrom, The Associated Press, Nationals rally past Cardinals in Game 1
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