Question of the Day: Which two teams will be in the World Series? [Updated]
Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, vote in the poll and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Bill Kline, Morning Call
The Phillies are older than Stones -- that’s Fred and Wilma -- and have more bruises than Barry Bonds’ ego. But there’s a little-known codicil in the 2011 Pennsylvania sportswriters’ constitution that compels the preseason selection of the Phillies, and their Bamm-Bamm rotation, to reach the World Series.
Once there, they will confront the Twins, who will use bounce-back years from Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan to mitigate the loss of several key players from last year’s division championship team. To be sure, the Twinkies will not sniff 100 wins like the Red Sox will do, but when October’s bright lights are powered up and it’s time to take the stage, the Twins will put on a show better than the Stones -- and that would be Mick, Keith and the boys.
[Updated at 10:02 a.m.
Peter Schmuck, Baltimore Sun
In a situation like this, it's tempting to take a flier on a highly unlikely World Series pairing. Then, if that ship comes in, you just remind everybody how smart you are, and if it doesn't, no one will remember if you don't bring it up.
It's even more tempting now that the big, bad Phillies are having trouble keeping a healthy team around their great starting rotation, but it's not tempting enough. The Big Four in Philly are big enough to get over the rough spots and the rest of the team will likely be back to full strength in the second half, so they're going to be in the Fall Classic. And win it.
The American League is a bit tougher to handicap, since I'm not sold on the Red Sox, so I'll go out on a bit of a limb and pick the Chicago White Sox to pound their way into the postseason and beyond. And I'll be sure to remind everyone if I'm right.]
[Updated at 12:40 p.m.
Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune
They’re healthy. They’re loaded. They’re headed for a World Series rematch. Carlton Fisk was the star of the 1975 World Series with that dramatic, demonstrative home run just inside the left-field foul pole at Fenway Park, but it was the Reds, not Fisk’s Red Sox, who would win Game 7 the next day. It’s tougher to get to the Series these days, as you advance through two playoff series, but the Red Sox and Reds have the type of pitching that should help them outlast the competition. Both are easy picks in their divisions, even though the Red Sox finished behind the Rays and Yankees a year ago. They’ve added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, and get all of their 2010 casualties (including Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Josh Beckett) back at full strength. The Reds surprised St. Louis in the NL Central race a year ago and, except for inserting Edgar Renteria for Orlando Cabrera, return intact. The biggest challenge for Dusty Baker is maintaining the energy the Reds played with a year ago, and a strong finish to spring training suggests they’ll be just fine. Don’t be surprised if both these teams run away with their divisions. They look like the class of their leagues. All they have to do is prove it.]
[Updated at 12:50 p.m.
Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times
The Boston Red Sox are the popular pick in the American League, and for good reason. They have an enviable combination of power, speed and depth in their lineup. With the national exposure provided to the Red Sox, and without the need for him to carry an entire offense as he did in San Diego, fans across America will be wondering whether Adrian Gonzalez might be better than Albert Pujols. The Red Sox don't have an elite starting rotation or bullpen, but they have depth in both areas, and the money to correct them as necessary.
The Philadelphia Phillies might have a starting rotation for the ages, but that yellow caution light appears rather bright when the starting lineup and rotation each has only one player under 30. Chase Utley and Brad Lidge already are on the disabled list. The San Francisco Giants have the pitching to repeat, but were fortunate that their starters -- and closer Brian Wilson -- all stayed healthy all season, and through a long postseason, last year. The Giants aren't deep enough offensively to withstand pitching injuries. So we'll take the Atlanta Braves as the National League entry into the World Series, with an offense sparked by youngsters Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, the NL's best catcher in Brian McCann and Chipper Jones (1.143 OPS this spring) in a renaissance season. Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe and Tommy Hanson are solid atop the rotation, and the speed guns will be out for Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters at the back of the bullpen.]
Photo: Giants fans celebrate in San Francisco after their team won the 2010 World Series. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times