Well, this is a first here at the ole Column. I will not be doling out some of patented advice (patent # 402958226), unless the specific question asked is... wait, hold on. This IS advice. And it comes to us from... uh.... longtime reader..... ummm.... Pat...ty...ricia.... Oh...Bun...by. Patricia O'Bunby. And she writes:
Hey Fats. You are undoubtedly the sexiest person alive. My womb would be honored to one day hold your spawn. My question is: do you have any advice on who to bet on in the upcoming ALDS between the Cleveland Indians the Boston Red Sox?
And I mean it about the babies. Call me. My number is 707-XXX-XXXX [withheld for... ummm, because I don't know if 707 is a real area-- I mean, for privacy.]
I'm glad you asked, Patricia, and I have done you the honor of shipping you some sperm. May Fats Jr. turn out to be just as charismatic, but less asthmatic, than me.
Let's examine these two ballclubs on a position to position basis, to see which team has the advantage.
Cleveland - Ryan Garko
Boston - Kevin Youkilis
Analysis: Boston finds themselves pretty lucky in two respects with their first baseman. Not only did he go errorless this year, no small feat for a 1st baseman, but YOOUUUUK is simply a fun thing to shout out. Cleveland fans have displayed no shortage of frustration having to shout out GAAAAARko to spur on their corner infielder. On paper, they had almost identical years, with batting averages being only 1 point different, and only 5 more HR for Garko. And Garko keeps a very entertaining postseason blog.
Cleveland - Asdrubal Cabrera
Boston - Dustin Pedroia
Analysis: It's hard to knock a guy who is a front-runner for AL Rookie of the year, but I'll try. His name is Dustin. That's literally one of only three or four names that makes "Asdrubal" sound relatively fortunate. The only reason Cabrera is not a front-runner for various awards is that he only started playing major league ball with the Tribe in mid-August. And after 1 week of bench play, they promoted him to the everyday starter. And since then, the team went 31-13, the best in the majors. I'll get backlash for this, but I'm putting the guy who DIDN'T bat .317 during the season ahead here.
Cleveland - Jhonny Peralta
Boston - Julio Lugo
Analysis: This one is pretty open and shut. Peralta is a good defensive shortstop who is no slouch batting #6 in a rather hit-heavy line-up. They both have speed (though Lugo did edge Peralta out 33-4 in stolen bases). Peralta, however, led the majors with 21 HR, the most for a shortstop. And Julio Lugo, it should be noted, spent 4 years in the Devil Rays organization. That, more than his hefty sub-.240 batting average, clinches it.
Cleveland - Casey Blake
Boston - Mike Lowell
Analysis: Mike Lowell is still an active player? And how. Using his experience (fancy word for 'geezer status'), he kept up an impressive .310+ batting average while managing deftly to not break or fracture any major body part. That, in combination with the fact that, aside from having a rather impressive and even beard, I didn't even know who the Indians' third basemen was, makes this one pretty simple to call too.
Cleveland - ?
Boston - ?
Analysis - I don't even know who either punt returner is, so this one's a toughie.
Cleveland - Franklin Gutierrez/Trot Nixon
Boston - I have no idea
Analysis - Franklin Gutierrez is a great fielder. Trot Nixon is hard-nosed veteran filled with spunk who was one of the storied "idiots" of the '04 Red Sox history-making season. Yet together in almost 600 at bats they couldn't even muster 150 hits or 20 home runs. I give it to whoever is playing RF for the Sox.
Cleveland - Grady Sizemore
Boston - Coco Crisp
Analysis - One of the most ironic battles, Coco Crisp was traded from the Indians when they realized that Grady Sizemore was the man. Things to consider: Coco Crisp is also the name of a cereal (rumors that Cleveland promoters have been working hard to create Great-y Sized-Smores Breakfast Treats have been denied). Sizemore bested Crisp in every offensive stat except triples and strikeouts, and had infinitely more pizzazz with his glove. A no-brainer.
Cleveland - Kenny Lofton
Boston - Manny Ramirez
Analysis - Kenny couldn't hold Manny's jock strap. Well, he could. He probably did when they played together on the Indians. But this isn't as big a landslide as you'd think. For one, Lofton has one thing that Manny doesn't - fielding mobility, as in any. They're both veterans (read: old), but it really isn't a contest.
Cleveland - Victor Martinez
Boston - Jason Varitek
Analysis - Apologies to Red Sock Nation, but Varitek didn't do a whole lot this year aside from sport an extra letter C on his jersey. Vic was the heart and soul of the Indians line-up, and has already continued it into the post-season. While "Tek" may be a cooler nickname than "Nez", the numbers just don't add up.
Cleveland - Travis Hafner
Boston - David Ortiz
Analysis - As much as I like Hafner, I'm afraid if I don't pick Big Papi, he'll eat me.
Cleveland - C.C. Sabathia
Boston - Josh Beckett
Analysis - These two front-runners for the AL Cy Young Award will battle in Game 1. Their seasons were almost identical (except for run support, where Sabathia probably could have done better pitching for a high school JV softball team}. It's a coin flip. Crap, the coin came up on its edge.
Cleveland - Fausto Carmona
Boston - Daisuke Matsuzaka
Analysis - In addition to being the #1 and #2 in the silliest-name competition in the majors (joining other team members Trot, Coco, and Asdrubel), these two have had impressive seasons so early in their career. Fausto is in the top 5 for Cy Young contention. Matsuzaka has 34,920 known pitches in his arsenal. But the answer is pretty easy here.
Cleveland - Jake Westbrook
Boston - Curt Shilling
Analysis - He's an oldie, but a goodie. Shilling can still go with the best of 'em, and Westbrook is about as reliable as do-it-yourself-laptop-software. Though it's well-documented that Shilling pitches best when he is bleeding, so the Sox may want to think about beating up their one-time ace with a mallet before the third game.
Cleveland - Paul Byrd
Boston - Tim Wakefield?
Analysis - Tim Wakefield turned 92 this year, which has hindered his ability to reach 65 on the radar gun. Fortunately for him, knuckleballers don't need speed, they need wheelchairs. As Byrd showed in the first round of the playoffs, he isn't scared of big bats. As Wakefield showed, he gets injured alot.
Cleveland - Perez, Betancourt, Borowski et al
Boston - Papelbon, Okajima, Gagne et al
Analysis - I of course stacked the deck with two great pitchers and one... well, one guy who tries real hard, for each team. Both clubs have great bullpens in general, with Shaky Joe Boro being the AL saves leader this year with 45, while simultaneously setting a record for the highest ERA for anyone who was a saves leader. Gagne, on the other hand, should be called Gag-Me. Ha! I'm so clever! It's a coin toss, but I think it goes to Cleveland, who's bullpen held the ludicrously-overpriced Yankees to 1 run in more than 10 innings of work.
Home Field Advantage:
Cleveland - Jacobs Field
Boston - Fenway Park
Analysis - Ummmm, the Red Sox have home field advantage. Yup. More game played in Beantown than at the Jake.
Cleveland - Eric Wedge
Boston - Terry Francona
Analysis - Wedge's got a beard.
It looks like if I add it up, we have 8 advantages for Cleveland, and only 7 for Boston. So what does that mean? Here's my advice: Boston in 3. Take it to the bank.
Write in new questions, because Fats is back!