It's the first day of October and the Hunt for October is on. The Stack is here to talk about playoff baseball and preview the upcoming postseason tournament as well as reaction to MNF and more so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Tuesday, October 1:
MLB Postseason Preview
With the Tampa Bay Rays knocking off the Texas Rangers 5-2 in game 163 in Texas, the postseason schedule for baseball has been set. David Price pitched a brilliant game against Texas, going the distance for the win. Evan Longoria was terrific as well, going 3-4 with a homerun and two RBIs. Tampa now has to go to Cleveland for a date with the Indians on Wednesday. The winner of that game will take on the team with home field advantage throughout the playoffs, the Boston Red Sox. The Indians have won ten straight games coming into the playoffs, making them perhaps the hottest team in the postseason. The thing about Cleveland is, they don't do anything really flashy, but Terry Francona has done a marvelous job in his first year of getting guys to buy in ane lead them to the postseason. He is easily the AL Manager of the year. Will Tampa Bay carry momentum from Monday's win into Wednesday's game? Possibly. Tampa has struggled a little more than some would have expected this year. The Rays-Indians gmae is going to be a good one. After Boston's abysmal year last year, it was tough to see them winning the AL East this year, but they have. Their offense is terrific, being first in runs, on base percentange and slugging percentage and second in batting average. David Ortiz has been their MVP. Whoever the Red Sox play, Rays or Indians, they're in for a tough time. Boston is the real deal. They have a lot of players contributing to the success of the team and first year manager John Farrell has done a fantastic job and he would win AL Manager of the year if not for what Francona has done in Cleveland. Game one of the Boston-TB/CLE series is Friday.
Tonight is a big game as the NL play-in game happens between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates from PNC Park at 8:07 PM ET on TBS. Pittsburgh finally has postseason baseball! The Pirates after twenty straight losing series are back in the playoffs and they are hosting the game. The atmosphere is going to be amazing. Pittsburgh went into Cincinnati on a mission to get the play-in game at home and they accomplished that. They'll throw Francisco Liriano on the mound tonight against Johnny Cueto. Liriano needs to pitch well in the first few innings for the Pirates to win. If he struggles, the Pirates lose. But if he can get through the first two, three innings giving up one run or less the Pirates will win. I like the Pirates tonight. The winner of the game will take on the St. Louis Cardinals. Cardinals were the best team in the regular season and it really shouldn't come as a shock. The team does things the right way all year long. If they play the Pirates, it's almost a toss up series. The Cardinals win if they play the Reds. I can see the Pirates winning if they play the Cardinals. One way or the other, it's going to be a good series. First game of that series is Thursday, October 3 at 5 PM ET on TBS.
The Oakland A's-Detroit Tigers ALDS is going to be a fascintating series. The Tigers have the likely AL Cy Young winner, no not Justin Verlander, but Max Scherzer. Verlander struggled this year, but it is a good one-two punch to have. The A's are no slouches on the pitching mound themselves. There's a reason why they have homefield advantage in this series. Still like the Tigers a little more though. Verlander and Scherzer and that offense is a little better. Should be a good series. Game one is Friday, October 4th in Oakland at 9:30 PM ET on TBS.
Finally, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves begin their series Thursday, October 3 at 8:30 PM ET in Atlanta. The Dodgers were the hottest team in baseball the middle of the summer, but cooled off a bit down the stretch. They still have Yasiel Puig though and a lot of other talented guys. The Braves seem like they always do a good job in the regular season, but struggle once it comes to the postseason. Would love to see them win this series, but I think the Dodgers are a slightly more talented team and will win this series.
That sets up the World Series pick. While my preseason World Series pick of Anaheim and Washington fell way short, it's a new day. It would be great to see a Cleveland Indians-Pittsburgh Pirates World Series, it's very unlikely to happen. How great would that be? I'll take the Los Angeles Dodgers to go against the Boston Red Sox and I'll take Boston to win the World Series. Enjoy the baseball playoffs everyone. They're going to be great! Full schedule for the ALDS and NLDS can be found here.
Saints Brees by Dolphins on MNF
See what I did there? It was a pretty easy night for the New Orleans Saints as they pummeled the Miami Dolphins 38-17. Drew Brees was once again marvelous throwing the fooball, going for over 400 yards with four touchdowns while Darren Sproles provided the energy early on. The little fireball finished with over 100 yards receiving and proved to be the difficult matchup for Miami all night long. Tight end Jimmy Graham got in on the fun too and before you knew it, the game was a runaway. The Dolphins didn't seem ready to handle the Saints nor the primetime lights...not quite yet. They'll get there. They have a good team, but on a night like last night, it was all about the Saints and how good they look on both sides of the ball. Watch out to the rest of the NFC. The Saints are marching in.
NFL Week 4 Power Rankings
1. Denver Broncos 4-0
Will anyone stop the Broncos? Doesn't appear that way. Peyton Manning is running away with NFL MVP right now.
2. Seattle Seahawks 4-0
It wasn't pretty, but a win like the Seahawks got at Houston will get them believing in more in themselves.
3. New Orleans Saints 4-0
Look out NFL. Drew Brees and the Saints offense are back with a vengeance. Only offense that is better than theirs is Denver. Brees would be right behind Manning in MVP voting.
4. New England Patriots 4-0
Brady and Billechick do more with no-name players than anyone else in the league. The loss of DT Vince Wilfork for the year though (Achilles) will certainly test them.
5. Kansas City Chiefs 4-0
Chiefs couldn't have picked a better year to play the NFC East. Andy Reid is tormenting his former division.
6. Indianapolis Colts 3-1
Wonder if owner Jim Irsay will have anything to say on Twitter this week.
7. Detroit Lions 3-1
Reggie Bush is making it look easy in Detroit and making the offense very, very difficult to defend.
8. Chicago Bears 3-1
That defense wasn't very good against the Lions. Neither was Jay Cutler. Three interceptions is very difficult to overcome.
9. Tennessee Titans 3-1
Titans defense has been stellar, but the loss of quarterback Jake Locker with a hip injury for an unknown period of time will cripple Tennessee's chances of making further noise.
10. Miami Dolphins 3-1
Dolphins didn't look overly impressive at New Orleans. The again, who does? Need to see more before we can consider them a threat in the AFC.
11. San Francisco 49ers 2-2
It took them a while to get going in STL and questions still exist about the offense, but that was a much needed win for the 49ers. They certainly looked better than the previous two weeks.
12. Cincinnati Bengals 2-2
Let this be a lesson to you Cincinnati...don't get so high on yourselves that you take an inferior opponent lightly.
13. Green Bay Packers 1-2
A week off to get their running backs healthy/healthier will only make the Packers offense that much more lethal.
14. San Diego Chargers 2-2
No 2-2 team has looked more like a 4-0 team than the Chargers.
15. Houston Texans 2-2
No 2-2 team has looked more like an 0-4 team than the Texans.
16. Dallas Cowboys 2-2
Leave it to the Cowboys to make a mess of things and fail to declare themselves the beast of the NFC East...or the NFC Least.
17. Baltimore Ravens 2-2
Yeah, Joe Flacco can't have any more of those five interception games and Ray Rice can't have any more of those five carry games.
18. Atlanta Falcons 1-3
Injuries have plagued the Falcons this season, but their red zone execution is horrible. They need to improve and quickly if they want any shot at making the playoffs.
19. Arizona Cardinals 2-2
Sunday's game was not a thing of beauty, but the Cardinals got a road win and get to come back home. Their defense looks really good despite losing two linebackers.
20. Buffalo Bills 2-2
Shows a lot about a team that has as many injuries as the Bills have to play defense the way they did against the Ravens. There is hope in Buffalo.
21. Carolina Panthers 1-2
The Panthers hope to come out of the early bye carrying the momentum of their beatdown of the Giants. A trip to the desert awaits.
22. Cleveland Browns 2-2
Hoyer fever has struck the city of Cleveland. The Browns have won two in a row and have no look of giving up on the season. Nice to see for Browns fans.
23. New York Jets 2-2
Geno Smith has looked very overwhelmed on the road. The Jets just don't have a lot of pieces to be competitive week in and week out.
24. Minnesota Vikings 1-3
Lost in Matt Cassel storming the castle in London for the Vikings first win was the return of Jerome Felton. Big aid to the running game. Big win for the Vikings headed into the bye.
25. Philadelphia Eagles 1-3
If not for the Eagles defense being so bad, we might be talking about why Chip Kelly's offense hasn't looked the same since week one.
26. Washington Redskins 1-3
Finally a win for the Redskins, but RGIII still doesn't look quite right and Alfred Morris has bruised ribs. Thank goodness a bye week awaits.
27. Oakland Raiders 1-3
The Raiders look like a much more competitive team with Terrelle Pryor starting than Matt Flynn.
28. St. Louis Rams 1-3
Offense can't get going, defense is struggling. The Rams could be in for a long year.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers 0-4
Ben Roethlisberger says the Steelers are the worst team in the NFL. Either he's not counting Jacksonville as an NFL team or he forgot they were in the league.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0-4
Tampa's slogan should, "We put FUN in dysfunction." How did that decision to start Mike Glennon turn out?
31. New York Giants 0-4
Let's see, outscored 69-7 the last two games. Doesn't look like there is much hope that the Giants can turn this thing around anytime soon.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars 0-4
At least one person (Big Ben) thinks there is a worse team in the NFL than the Jaguars.
Coming up Wednesday: 2013-14 NHL season preview