Thank you, Mets. Thank you for saving me from an embarrassing 0-for-4 in my division series predictions. Not that 1-3 is much better.
So we're just going to reset ourselves and hope to do better with the league pennants on the line. I have a sneaking suspicion I will.
Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics
In 1972, these same two teams met in the ALCS. The A's won, and it started a string of three straight World Series titles. Those A's had Reggie Jackson, these A's have Frank Thomas. But unlike the '72 team, there isn't a Catfish Hunter in the bunch.
The Tigers are fresh off an emotional series win over the overhyped and overrated Yankees (Doesn't it feel good to say that?), a series win that washed away the momentary disappointment of losing the division to the since-dispatched Twins on the last day of the season.
The Tigers are riding high, feeding off a fan base that has waited almost 20 years for this. They feel like they can beat anybody right now, and they have the pitching to back it up.
From a purely nuts-and-bolts angle, the Tigers have a far deeper pitching staff than the A's. That will be the difference in the series. The Tigers and A's will split the first two in in Oakland, but when the series shifts to loud, rowdy Comerica, it will be all Tigers.
A first pennant since 1984 is in the cards for Detroit.
Tigers in five
St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets
Maybe the ex-Indian factor played a role in the Padres losing their first-round series with the Cards. But on which side of the fence will the bad Cleveland karma land in this series?
The Cards have Ronnie Belliard, the Mets have Guillermo Mota. Both were purged as part of the veteran fire sale the Tribe conducted this summer.
On paper, this series looks like it shouldn't even be close. The Mets have the skindeep upper hand with deeper pitching and a better offense.
But the Mets don't have Albert Pujols. And they do have Mota in a very important late-inning role, charged with getting the ball to closer Billy Wagner.
My feeling is the Mets will win a squeaker, setting a dramatic World Series moment in which ex-Indian Mota is facing Pudge Rodriguez in the deciding game, and hacks up one of his trademark dead-red fastballs to Pudge. He'll hammer it deep into the Detroit night, handing the Tigers their first championship in 22 years, and proving that yes, Virginia, you can go home to Cleveland again.
Mets in seven