Friday, October 3, 2008

Dodgers, Phillies on Verge of Advancing

The other day I predicted that the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies would win their divisional series and advance to the National League's championship series.

But they've both been more efficient than I expected.

I predicted that both teams would need all five games to finish off their foes.

Each team has played only two games — and they both have today off — but both teams are 2-0 and could finish off their series tomorrow.

Particularly amazing are the Dodgers, who barely managed a winning record in baseball's worst division yet have surprised baseball observers by winning the first two games on the road. Now they need only one more win — with the next two games to be played in Dodger Stadium — to move on to the N.L. championship series.

Only one team in major league baseball history has come back to win a playoff series after losing the first two games at home — the 2004 Boston Red Sox — recalls

The Phillies, meanwhile, took care of business at home. They, too, need only one more victory to win the series with the Milwaukee Brewers — but the next two games will be played in Milwaukee, where the Brewers won 60% of the time this year.

The Brewers, however, are going to have to win 100% of their home games in this playoff series, then take the fifth and deciding game in Philadelphia if they're going to deny the Phillies a spot in the league championship series. That's a tough assignment.

As observes, prior to this year, there were 16 times when a team took a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five National League divisional series. Each of those 16 teams won the series — and 13 of them did so by completing the sweep with a win in the third game.

The odds clearly are against the Brewers and the Cubs.

And, if you're a Cubs fan, it's going to be hard to blame this postseason collapse on a 63-year-old billy goat curse — unless the Cubs can manage to rise from the near-dead, win two straight in Dodger Stadium and bring the series back to Wrigley Field for the fifth game.

If that happens, the billy goat might turn out to be a plausible scapegoat.

But make no mistake about it. The blame for the first two losses (especially Thursday night's 10-3 disaster) belongs to the Cubs themselves.

And a certain amount of the credit probably belongs to the Dodgers.

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