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SnakePit Round Table: MLB Playoffs

As mentioned, we've got plenty to keep us going through the long-dark, off-season at the 'Pit. One of these warm embers will be the SnakePit Round Table. Each week, I'll fire a batch of questions at the editors and writers here, and... Well, we will see what happens! These may be Diamondbacks-related, generally baseball-themed or entirely off-topic, and I'll post the results here each Tuesday - from there, anyone else is welcome to contribute their thoughts on the topic.

We start with the 2010 mlb playoffs. The card of games is finally set, without even the need for a play-in contest [note that these question were sent out last week, so there may be the odd reference to the Padres, hehehe]. So, who do we think will win? Who do we want to win? Will we be paying much attention? And, finally, what Arizona playoff memories stand out in your mind?

1. Who do you want to do well?

IHSB: I'd love for the Twins to go far, possibly win it all, as my dad is from Minny and they've had some horrifying luck with pro sports teams over the past umpteen years. Unfortunately only having the likes of Sam Cassell, Lattrell Spreewell, and Stephon Marbury to pair with a young Kevin Garnett. The unfortunate end to Kirby Puckett's career (and then the even more unfortunate end to his life). Selling their soul to Brett Favre. It'd be nice to be able to cheer for a Minnesota team for good reasons.

soco: I'd like to see the Rangers do well, considering that the poor franchise has never made it out of the first round in it's nearly 40 year history. It would be nice for the Reds to win it again, since they're not the Cardinals or Cubs. Also, both of those teams have Sun Devils on them, so that's always a plus.

Jim: Put me down for the Twins, since they were my team (as much as anyone could be said to be!) before the D-backs. In the NL, I'd like to see the Braves do well, and give Bobby Cox - one of the all-time great managers - a good send-off. But there's a lot less angst than, say, 2008, when we had the Dodgers and Cubs in the post-season. I still don't want the Giants to win, but that's still mostly a hangover from the Barry days, so I'm much less concerned with them.

Kishi: If it's up to me, we see a Tampa Bay World Series win this year. Sure, part of it is because I've been a fan of them for a while, part of it is because I feel bad that the poor guys seem to get no-hit by everyone and their mother, part of it is expansion brother solidarity- but I think there's also some Yankees dislike in there. Who wouldn't want to see the big spenders get thwarted by their small budget division rivals? From the NL, I think I'm putting my support behind the Reds right now. I wouldn't mind seeing the Braves win it, though- one last ring for Bobby Cox is a great storyline. Oh, and mrskishi, as a Minnesota native, is trying to convince me that I should support the Twins. I'd be okay with that.

Wailord: I'd like to see Atlanta do well, really. I'd prefer rooting for a National League team while I can, I hate the Giants, I hate the Padres, I hate the Phillies, and I don't have a big issue with the Reds. However, this is, afterall, a Cubs household (please, guys Castle Wailord can't take any more sieges), meaning the Reds are out of the running for the family endorsement. If Atlanta doesn't make it, I'll have to switch over to some American League team, and it'll probably be the Rangers. Any team that can piss off the Yankees is a-ok in my book. I, unlike some, am not sick of Atlanta dominance, as I wasn't even a baseball fan in the 90's. Braves or bust, I guess?

DbacksSkins: I'll root for the Colorado Roc- wait? What? WHAT IS THIS?!? I HAZ A GUARANTEE!! Oh well. I'm rooting for the Reds and Rays primarily. The San Diego Moorads can go die in a fire (I'll save an extinguisher for AJ Hinch, though). The Giants might be rootable, but they have friggin' Timmay, along with a lingering bad taste from the Bonds era, like cough syrup an hour after you've taken it. The Phillies are big market and got their title already, ::ahem... puts away 2008 World Champions Phillies hat (WHAT!? IT WAS A GIFT!):: the Yankees are the root of all evil, and the Braves... well, I think the majority of the baseball world got tired of them during the 90s.

To me, it came down to the Twins, Rangers and Rays against the Reds. In a vacuum, I'll always root for a generic NL team over a generic AL team, and not only are the Reds small market, but they haven't won in awhile. Plus, Joey Votto is insanely awesome. In the AL, I like the Twins because, again, they're small market, but they always seem just happy to win the division -- think they're still taking revenge on MLB for contraction. The Rangers are kinda like the Mets of the AL West, but for some reason, I don't mind them, and Josh Hamilton is a great story. But the Rays? I'll always root for my expansion brethren to do well. WOO 1998 TEAMS!!

soco: How in the world are the Rangers the Mets of the AL West?

The Zellective questions your comparison between the Rangers and Mets, Phil. If anyone's the Mets of anything, it'd be the Padres, what with their complete and utter slide into mediocrity for the last week or so.

emily: I'd really like to see the Rangers do Wailord said, any team that can piss off the Yankees they way they did is certainly okay in my book. In the NL, I'm going for either the Braves or the Reds. Playoffs would be a nice send-off for Bobby Cox. However, I think this year's Reds roster is something special...and I'm not convinced that magic will rub off to next year. Also, flip the motherflipping NL West if they aren't the Diamondbacks.

Zephon: Rays. Anti-Yankees, sister expansion franchise, small payroll...I just like them. Always have. They're my AL team after the White Sox. I like any team that's not the Yankees, the Phillies, or the Giants. I want the smaller market teams to succeed.. I'd like to see the Braves make one last run with Bobby Cox at the helm, I think that would be the best send off for the future hall of fame manager.

snakecharmer: Part of me should root for the Giants, since I, y'know, live here. But another part of me knows how smug Giants fans get (and how their tickets will be more difficult/expensive to get next year) so I don't like that part. But I'm definitely rooting for them over the Padres. Yankees are evil, Philles did it already, etc etc. I have liked watching Tampa Bay's growth in recent years and would love to see them do well.

Azreous: Obviously, I can't root for the Giants in the slightest. And the Yankees are right out. But ther rest of the teams are a collection of compelling stories that have me excited for the postseason. The Reds, back in the postseason for the first time in 15 years. The Rays, trying to win it all before their team implodes in the offseason. The Twins, looking to turn small-market regular-season success into something more. The Braves, giving Bobby Cox one last run. The Rangers, who have never advanced in the playoffs. And the Phillies, with the best three-man rotation in baseball. As a fan of a team that clearly isn't in the playoffs, this is about as good as I could hope for.

2. Who do you think will do well?

IHSB: I still have no idea why the Rangers don't look more intimidating than they do. I think they pull it together in time to put up a serious fight with the Yankees, because Cliff Lee isn't going to be middling forever, and Colby Lewis & C.J. Wilson are a pair of nice arms to form a three-man rotation with there. In the NL, the Phillies are the best team of that group. They won't be for long, since I still believe Ruben Amaro has taken dynamite to that team, but the Roy Oswalt deal really stopped the bleeding and they're the favorites to get to the WS out of the NL.

snakecharmer: I think because it's Texas. I think the AL West has always been undervalued, from when Oakland sort-of-but-not-really succeeded with Moneyball to Anaheim having poor performances in the post-season recently (2002 not withstanding). And the fact that they only have 4 relatively small-medium-market teams. You don't hear a lot about them, they don't get much attention and that's probably why they don't seem intimidating.

soco: I still think that the Phillies are the team to beat in the NL. The Royz in the Hood are going to be a pretty powerful 1-2 punch in the playoffs, and if you add in their potent, homer-happy offense, then I don't see any of the other NL teams matching that. The Reds should still do well, but pitching could be a concern in the same way that the Padres and Giants could be hurt by their hitting. In the AL it's easy to say the Rays or the Yankees will get it done, but they've both been inconsistently good. The team that looks really good to me as the season ends is the Twins, though, and I expect them to get to the ALCS.

Jim: If the Yankees can overtake the Rays and get home-field advantage, they'll be tough to beat, but they are certainly more vulnerable on the road, and are only 41-40 against teams above .500, so I am optimistic they'll get taken down. At time of writing [Wednesday afternoon], none of the four AL teams are better than 5-5 in the past ten games, so are hardly charging, red-hot, to the post-season at this point. In the NL, it's hard to look past the Phillies; the Giants' rotation will keep them in games, but their offense lacks the punch. The Reds are probably the biggest threat, with the Braves struggling through injuries to Chipper Jones and Martin Prado.

Wailord: The Phillies have an offense that - when in full sync - can pretty much crush any lineup out there and they have the pitching staff to back it. Their only real problem has been inconsistency, but it seems like they've had that all straightened out with their recent September tear. They're the National League team to beat in my eyes, and I think I'd be surprised if they managed to miss out on the Fall Classic. As for the American League, I think the Yankees are a bit overrated and still don't have a pitching staff settled. Yes, they have CC - but Pettitte, although back, seems to still be a little "off", Burnett's been absolutely horrible, and Phil Hughes always seems to be sort of a question mark. I don't think the Rangers are the best of the four, and I believe Tampa's the superior team when compared to Minnesota. In a Tampa/Philly rematch, although I'd hate it, I think Philadelphia wins it (and have more than twenty fans to witness it - sorry, Tampa).

DbacksSkins: Giants rotation is awesome, especially in that ballpark, but I'm still counting on Aubrey Huff to break a hip or something. The Phillies and Reds can outslug any of the other NL teams, but the Reds' offense is better, even after park factors. The Braves get on base at the same rate as the Reds but lack the power, and while Tim Hudson is having a great bounceback year, (much to the joy of Maurer and Webb) Tommy Hanson isn't enough to pitch them to the World Series. Neither the Giants nor Padres can keep up. Adrian Gonzalez, Mat Latos and Clayton Richard won't be enough for San Diego in the playoffs.

Bryan Price has the Reds' pitching on the whole looking good, though the hitting is still carrying them. Bronson Arroyo has put up 2.1 WAR, yet he's their "ace" this year, and Cueto and Wood have combined for 3.2. But Aroldis Chapman throws 5,280 MPH (or something like that) and Arthur Rhodes, at age 40, is having one of the best seasons of his career. The Phillies have the two Roys and Hamels, which is a damned-good 1-2-3 in the NLDS, but something tells me the Reds edge them. In the AL, I think the Rays' young pitching does just enough to give their offense a chance against the Yankees in the ALCS. Despite Liriano and Lee's awesomness, the Twins and Rangers will have trouble overcoming injuries to Hamilton, Mauer and Morneau. Rays overtake the Reds in 5 games.

emily: Unfortunately, I think the Phillies are the team to beat. Again. ::sigh:: I don't know what it is, but I just hate that freakin team. As much as I'd like to see someone knock out the Yankees (Twins or Rangers, since I don't think they'd face the Rays in the ALDS, right?), I just don't think either team is strong enough across the board to manage it. I do, however, think Tampa could take down the Evil Empire in the inevitable NYY-Tampa ALCS. As for the NL...I don't know. I hope the Giants get smacked around in the first round, I'd like to see a Reds/Braves NLCS, but I think it'll probably end up a Reds/Phillies NLCS and a Tampa/Philly World Series. Gross.

Zephon: I think the team to beat in the AL is the Rays. I think the team to beat in the NL is Philly. Both teams are balanced, with potent offenses and great pitching staffs. I think you can make an arguement for almost any team making a run in the playoffs this year though. I have a hunch the Twins or the Rangers could surprise in the NL All that said, I really don't want to see another Yankees/Phillies world series. Or the Giants in the world series.

snakecharmer: I don't think the NL wild card team, whoever it'll be, will have a chance. The Yankees always seem to fade and then bounce right back, as much as I dislike that. If Tampa gets on a roll, they could probably do it, but, so could anybody.... /ambiguousanswer

Azreous: The Phillies have the clear advantage in the NL, because rotations get shorter come postseason time and the Halladay/Oswalt/Hamels trio tops everyone (although Lincecum/Cain/Sanchez isn't far off). They're also healthy for the first time in what feels like forever, and their results from the past two months speak volumes to how good Philly can be when all the pieces are in place. In the AL, I might have picked the Twins if Morneau were in that lineup, but I don't think they have the pitching to stay afloat with him missing the entire postseason. As it is, I'm forced to hope that the Rays can hold off the Yankees -- the two teams were evenly matched in the regular season, so a seven-game series could be interesting. If nothing else, Zephon's right: no Yankees-Phillies, please.

3. Do you watch many playoff games, or aren't you bothered once the D-backs are eliminated?

IHSB: Sadly, it isn't up to me.. /sadface

soco: I love baseball, any type of baseball. But like IHSB, I am slave to many external conditions. The only thing preventing me from watching all of the playoff games and the World Series will be my work schedule. If it cooperates, then I'll be golden.

Jim: Like soco, work is my enemy - especially now I work till 9:30pm most evenings. I'll certainly be following the games, and it's nice to be able to see contests where I am not emotionally invested in the outcome!

Azreous: I'm on the same boat with work ruining baseball (and the NBA) -- most shifts take me through the entire evening. The plus side with newspaper stuff is that I'm forced to keep up on what's happening regardless, and there is a 15" TV across the room that'll be tuned in to whatever game is going on that night. So whenever I can pay attention, I will.

Kishi: I watch a lot of playoff games. If it's on, and I'm home, I'll have the TV turned on, even if it's just background. I actually pay attention to more games when the DBacks are eliminated than if they're in it- if they're in, I watch them, but if they're out, I'll watch everything. I'm actually pretty bad about it during the regular season, too, which is why mrskishi sometimes laments the creation of MLB Network, I think....

Wailord: It seems each year I grow to be a bigger and bigger fan of baseball, steadily increasing my playoff diet each go-around. I'll watch as much as I can this year (school allowing), as I now know more than, like, three players in baseball (more than can be said for me circa-2007).

emily: Honestly, unless the Diamondbacks are playing, or I fall in love with a team (2002 Angels), I tend to not pay much attention til later on in the playoffs...usually skip the division series and forget about baseball for a week. That said, why does the new season of South Park have to start on the same day as the playoffs? WHYYYYYYYY.

Zephon: I'll catch a few games from each series, and if it's an interesting match up, I'll watch the majority of the world series.

snakecharmer: I definitely watch (except, I'll be in Canada for the DSs so I have no idea how that'll work). I work from home, nothing better to put on as background noise than a playoff game I don't have to pay attention to. Besides, that's how I fell in love with the Diamondbacks, so, gotta celebrate our "anniversary" by watching whoever's there.

DbacksSkins: If I have free time, I might watch, depending on the teams, and whether or not there's something better on, like football, Star Trek, Mythbusters, or Law & Order: SVU. (I think that sentence might be overcommafied)

4. What are your Arizona playoff memories?

IHSB: Not being at Game 7 of the World Series, unfortunately - I was at a Suns game while my mom and brother were at the D-backs game. Though I did go to a couple of the Cubs games in ‘07, and the girl I took (who I was semi-dating except she wouldn't call it that because most girls are weird) to one of them went on the screen for the Guess-the-Attendance dealio. I gave her the advice prior to her going up there to pick the highest number because that's how marketing works. She did and she won so that was exciting I s'pose but all we got for it was a bunch of spare bobbleheads and random crap. I'll never forget it, though.

soco: the 1999 and 2002 were over too quick to have any opinion on them. That can be the problem with 5 game series, especially ones that see a team get swept out. The 2001 Championship win is obvious and cliche (and shame on you, IHSB, for being at a SUNS game when Game 7 was on), and will likely be covered endlessly over the next year, which is the 10th anniversary.

The 2007 playoffs were something special, though, for me. Growing up in a small city with absolutely no sports life outside of the high school and junior college level, and following exclusively awful teams, I didn't have much experience with the postseason, and I certainly had never actually attended a game. So to be able to go to the 2007 NLDS and NLCS, was extraordinary. Ted Lily throwing down his glove, the deflated Cubs fans, the roar inside Chase Field that was the loudest noise I had ever heard in there, and then the crashing silence when Jose Valverde walked in the winning run for the Rockies. It will be hard to replace the 2007 season, not even with the Coyote's magical run (and unfortunate early exit) last year.

Azreous: I'm a huge Suns fan, and they easily come first before the Diamondbacks for me (although my SBNation profile probably makes people wonder). And even then, there's no way I'm missing a World Series Game 7 to watch an early-season Suns game. I don't care if the seats are front row, courtside, or riding on Stephon Marbury's back -- you can't do that.

That said, the clinching game of the 2001 WS is the easy choice here. 1999 was painful -- a bullpen collapse in the first game, tied 4-4 in the ninth; Todd Pratt's homer in the 10th to win the series that Steve Finley alllllllllmost managed to catch. 2002 was just sad. 2007 is too recent. But the World Series win defined a franchise, becoming one of the best games ever played in the process. It's cliche, but it's far too good not to pick.

Kishi: Obviously, Game Seven of the 2001 World Series. But Game Five of the 2001 NLDS is probably second to me- Tony Womack's walkoff single to give us the first postseason series win of any baseball team I've cheered for, that is easily one of my favorite baseball moments ever.

Wailord: Ah, Game 7 of the World Series. November 4, 2001 - who can forget where they were that day? Oh, wait, me. The answer is in second grade. No playoff memories for me (yet?).

emily: HAH. With the addition of Wailord, I'm finally not the youngest! WOO! (I was in fifth grade in 2001). Um, honestly, (and this is going to make everyone laugh at me) the part of that 2001 World Series that sticks in my brain the most is game 4, on Halloween, and going trick or treating with my brother and asking at every house "WHAT'S THE SCORE?" and everyone thinking I was insane.

Zephon: The Diamondbacks 2001 play off run is what got me into baseball. I made a ton of money betting on the Diamondbacks, all off a hunch that they'd win the world series. Favorite moment has to be "New York, New York" being played on the PA after we beat up the yankees in game six. Also, IHSB, wth were you doing at a SUNS game while game seven was happening?

snakecharmer: Ditto, except for the betting-money part. I hadn't been terribly interested in pre-World Series series before, but I was flipping channels and saw Craig Counsell at bat and thought "WTF? OH hey he's cute" so I stopped to watch. It was one of the NLCS games, I think, and I just rooted for them the whole way through and that got me hooked. But during WS Game 7 they were PUTTING UP EMMY RESULTS because the Emmy's had been pushed back 3 weeks and I was TAPING THEM on my other tv (West Wing's big year) and was being spoiled so I watched with one eye open so as not to read the ticker at the bottom. In ‘07, I was trying frantically to get on the list for World Series tickets and emailing my cousins (who live there) with how to get on the list so somebody could get tickets. But that fell through.......

Jim: I wish I could relive 2001, now that I am fully invested in the team - at the time, I was a fan, but I wasn't a FAN. I think my recollections of that series have been fully documented elsewhere, so I'll go with the 2007 NLDS against the Cubs. Lilly's glove-throwing was magnificent - and as we saw over the weekend, will continue to live on at the SnakePit, every time we face him.

But even better was Livan Hernandez frustrating them at Wrigley, after Young's leadoff homer took the crowd out of it. 11 base-runners in the first five innings, and only one run scored? Marvelous. We were at a birthday party for a grandchild, so I had to keep running out to the car to listen to the radio. I think the shrieks of delight I let out when Hernandez rolled up the bases-loaded double play to end the fifth, led to years of therapy for some arriving children...

soco: Speaking of the 2007 NLDS against the Cubs, that Game 3 had another great memory with Stephen Drew. He got hit by a pitch in the 9th inning, wasn't awarded a base. So what does he do with the very next pitch? Launch it for a solo home run. Beautiful.

DbacksSkins: soco, wasn't that Upton who did that, starting the legend that "you don't wanna hit Justin Upton with a pitch"? Of course, Lilly throwing his glove was hilarious. One of my favorite general postseason memories came while NOT watching when Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS went to extra innings, my freshman year in college, and being able to tell WHO had won the game by hearing exactly who was screaming on my dorm floor. (Knowing which folks were Red Sox and which folks were Yankees fans. Stupid east coast.)

My favorite Arizona postseason memory came during Game 6 of the World Series, and it's certainly a story I've told before to anyone who'll listen. We'd just been beaten down for 3 straight games to yield the series lead to the Yanks, but we used Game 6 to reassert ourselves and tie up the series, setting a WS record for hits in the process and giving the Yankees their worst postseason loss ever in a 15-2 shellacking. For me, the memorable part was not the game itself so much as the manner in which I "observed" it. I was at a high school debate tournament at one of the Mesa high schools (Red Mountain, probably?) and didn't have access to a TV, but I'd come prepared with an AM radio. I saw, to the west, the B-2 Spirit that flewby the stadium before the game, before going in to watch the debate.

We were watching the tourney finals (I hadn't made it, obviously, but one squad from my team had), but in my case, I was ONLY watching, and listening to the game. I surreptitiously gave scoring updates to other interested audience members in the room, trying not to distract the two featured squads. During the 2 minutes of silent prep time between speeches, I went ahead and broke protocol to announce to the room, "In case you're all interested, the Diamondbacks are beating up on the Yankees 12-0." Everyone briefly erupted in excitement, cheers and high-fives with members of opposing debate teams, but quickly returned to silence in order to allow the debate to finish.

Of course, we won that game, AND the Series the next night. Oh yeah, and despite my interruption, my teammates won the finals and the tournament. :-)