By DJ Gallo
Special to Page 2

The opening day of the baseball playoffs is an exciting time, but it's also a time to get serious. That's why I've broken down every series in the opening round with in-depth, position-by-position analysis.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions about who will win each series, but realize that I have determined that the Tigers dominate the Yankees across the board.

There's no way the Yankees can win.

New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers

Catcher: Jorge Posada versus Ivan Rodriguez
The catcher is a baseball team's on-field leader and therefore must exude confidence. Ivan Rodriguez has a giant bronze statue of himself in his backyard. Jorge Posada does not.
Advantage: Tigers

1B: Gary Sheffield versus Sean Casey
Sean Casey is one of the most genial players in all of sports, and that friendly disposition will help him stay positive in this series as dozens upon dozens of Yankees players run by him at first base on the way to second, third and home.
Advantage: Tigers

2B: Robinson Cano versus Placido Polanco
On Monday, Robinson Cano was named American League Player of the Month for September. That's all well and good, I suppose, but Cano didn't win Player of the Month any other time this season, meaning he's not consistent. I'd rather have someone like Placido Polanco who can provide consistency by never being streaky enough for Player of the Month consideration.
Advantage: Tigers

Brandon Inge
Matthew Mitchell/WireImage.com
Brandon Inge is no All-Star, but he's clearly better than the Lonely Yankee.

3B: Alex Rodriguez versus Brandon Inge
I'm not sure if I've ever heard of this Brandon Inge guy, but I know for sure he's better than that steaming junk pile the Yankees have at third. I've been told he's the worst player in baseball.
Advantage: Tigers

SS: Derek Jeter versus Carlos Guillen
Sure, Derek Jeter may have hit .343 this year with 118 runs and 34 stolen bases, but I'll take someone like Carlos Guillen over a numbers guy like Jeter any day. Guillen has what is called "intangibles," and those are what really matter come playoff time.
Advantage: Tigers

LF: Hideki Matsui versus Craig Monroe
Hideki Matsui has the weight of an entire nation on him whenever he steps to the plate, while Craig Monroe has no pressure at all except maybe the weight of his hometown of Texarkana, Texas. And, yes, while Texarkana probably has a fair number of obese people, like any American town, their combined tonnage still doesn't equal the entire weight of the Japanese population. Or at least I hope it doesn't.
Advantage: Tigers

CF: Johnny Damon versus Curtis Granderson
Johnny Damon is a quality major league player, but he doesn't have nearly the respect around the league that his superior, Curtis Granderson, does. For instance, take both players to Fenway Park, and Damon will get booed while Granderson won't illicit a peep from the Boston faithful because they respect his abilities so much. And maybe also because they probably have no idea who he is.
Advantage: Tigers

RF: Bobby Abreu versus Magglio Ordonez
Both players are Venezuelan stars, but only one them was referred to by Ozzie Guillen as "another Venezuelan #%@^." I don't know what "#%@^" means, but I'm just going to assume it's something awesome because Guillen tends to be a rather complimentary gentleman.
Advantage: Tigers

DH: Jason Giambi versus Matt Stairs
Matt Stairs was traded this season by Kansas City and released by Texas. The shame and embarrassment of not being wanted by the likes of the Royals and Rangers should motivate him to accomplish great things in the postseason.
Advantage: Tigers

Rotation: Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, Randy Johnson and Jaret Wright versus Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers, Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman
The so-called experts say Detroit's young rotation is exhausted from logging so many innings during the regular season. But this isn't the regular season anymore. It's the postseason -- a whole new season. And Detroit's pitchers have yet to record a single inning in the postseason. So they'll be as fresh as can be.
Advantage: Tigers

Bullpen: Mariano Rivera versus Todd Jones
Todd Jones has facial hair that would make Johnny Cakes jealous. Therefore, by the tried-and-true baseball rule that says all closers must experiment with facial hair as though they are 15-year-old boys, he is a great closer. As for that bald-faced closer Mariano Rivera, he shouldn't even be allowed to take the mound with his smooth face, let alone be considered for the Hall of Fame.
Advantage: Tigers

Manager: Joe Torre versus Jim Leyland
Joe Torre is a great manager, that's a given, but Jim Leyland is on a whole different level. For instance, he can blow a smoke ring that forms into the words "HIT AND RUN."
Advantage: Tigers


Minnesota Twins vs. Oakland A's

Catcher: Joe Mauer versus Jason Kendall
Joe Mauer established himself as a major league star this season. But don't overlook Jason Kendall. The A's catcher has only one home run in more than 1,100 at-bats over the past two seasons. Clearly he's been sandbagging it the last two years in preparation for his first postseason, drawing the outfielders in over time, only to start depositing moon shots over their heads once the playoffs start. Either that or he's just not very good.
Advantage: Draw

Justin Morneau
Ron LeBlanc/WireImage.com
Never rely on a Canadian if you want to win the World Series.

1B: Justin Morneau versus Nick Swisher
Ha! A Canadian starting at first base in the major leagues. Yeah, good luck with that, Twins. I'm sure this Morneau guy will turn out just swell for you. Idiots.
Advantage: A's

2B: Luis Castillo versus Mark Ellis
Luis Castillo played 10 years with the Marlins before joining the Twins before this season, and the experience he gained in helping Florida to two World Series titles will be invaluable to his teammates. Plus, if they lose, he has a lot of experience with that, too.
Advantage: Twins

3B: Nick Punto versus Eric Chavez
Most teams want power from their corner positions, but Nick Punto has only one home run this year. But I think that's great. It's proof that not everyone in baseball is on steroids.
Advantage: Twins

SS: Jason Bartlett versus Marco Scutaro
Marco Scutaro's "traditional" baseball numbers may not look impressive -- .266, 5 HRs, 41 RBI -- but I bet he has an OPS that is out of this world. No, not that either? Well, then he's very, very cheap and has all the body parts necessary to wear a standard baseball uniform. That Billy Beane, what a genius.
Advantage: A's

LF: Rondell White versus Jay Payton
Sometimes I wonder why the American League is regarded as so superior to the National League. But then I look at two teams like the Twins and A's who have superstars like Rondell White and Jay Payton at every position and I am reminded why. (Why I wondered that in the first place.)
Advantage: Draw

CF: Torii Hunter versus Mark Kotsay
Torii Hunter fueled the Twins' offense during Minnesota's late-season surge, whereas Mark Kotsay didn't have to resort to theatrics such as putting up big, gaudy numbers (because his team was comfortably ahead in its division).
Advantage: A's

RF: Michael Cuddyer versus Milton Bradley
Milton Bradley is the kind of player who can ignite a team -- either through his offense or through a rage in which he sets fire to the clubhouse.
Advantage: A's

DH: Jason Tyner versus Frank Thomas
You may think Frank Thomas is light years better than Jason Tyner, but then you don't know baseball. How do I know this? Well, none other than the reigning world champion Chicago White Sox would prefer to have Tyner on their team over Frank Thomas. And that's good enough for me.
Advantage: Twins

Rotation: Johan Santana, Brad Radke, Boof Bonser and Carlos Silva versus Barry Zito, Dan Haren, Esteban Loaiza and Rich Harden
The aces -- Johan Santana and Barry Zito -- are the key here, and I'd put my stock in Santana. I had Zito on my fantasy team, and all I needed from him in his final start was a complete game shutout to give me enough points to take over first place. But he failed to come through, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he's not a reliable big-game pitcher.
Advantage: Twins

Bullpen: Joe Nathan versus Huston Street
Huston Street served a stint on the disabled list near the tail end of the season, so there must be concerns about his arm withstanding the one inning every other day or so his job requires.
Advantage: Twins

Manager: Ron Gardenhire versus Ken Macha
Ron Gardenhire and Ken Macha are two of the best managers in baseball who year after year put their teams in position to make the playoffs. I'm comfortable saying they're among the top 30 managers in the entire sport. Really!
Advantage: Draw


New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Catcher: Paul Lo Duca versus Russell Martin
The Dodgers' farm system somehow is able to produce a seemingly endless supply of young Italian catchers. First there was Mike Piazza, then Paul Lo Duca and now Russell Martin. (Assuming Russell Martin is Italian like Dean Martin.)
Advantage: Dodgers

Nomar Garciaparra
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
The Dodgers are young, but luckily they can rely on Nomar's World Series experience.

1B: Carlos Delgado versus Nomar Garciaparra
Winning a playoff series often comes down to which team has the most postseason experience, and Nomar Garciaparra's familiarity with playoff pressure from 2004 when he won a World Series ring as a member of the Boston Red Sox will be invaluable to the Dodgers.
Advantage: Dodgers

2B: Jose Valentin versus Jeff Kent
Jose Valentin and Jeff Kent should be a joy to watch this series. Both play all-out at all times, yes, but I expect their mustache maintenance to be at playoff-level, too. Will they hang bunting from their ticklers? Tune in to find out.
Advantage: Draw

3B: David Wright versus Wilson Betemit
The Mets are set with David Wright at third for years to come, while the Dodgers know that they could do a lot better at the hot corner than Wilson Betemit. That means the Dodgers have more room for improvement in the coming years while the Mets will just be treading water.
Advantage: Dodgers

SS: Jose Reyes versus Rafael Furcal
Jose Reyes plays baseball with a noticeable joy. But Rafael Furcal will be far more happy than Reyes this postseason, considering he doesn't have to immediately report to jail upon its conclusion like he did two years ago.
Advantage: Dodgers

LF: Cliff Floyd versus Marlon Anderson
Cliff Floyd and Marlon Anderson are fan favorites because their at-bats give fans a chance to get up and use the bathroom or visit the concession stand without fear of missing any action on the field.
Advantage: Draw

CF: Carlos Beltran versus Kenny Lofton
Carlos Beltran hit 41 home runs this season, tying Todd Hundley for the Mets' single-season record. So that means Beltran is no better than Todd Hundley. That's pretty pathetic.
Advantage: Dodgers

RF: Shawn Green versus J.D. Drew
Shawn Green made more than $10 million this season, while J.D. Drew took home $11.4 million. This is an example of why some teams make the playoffs and others do not: Playoff teams get great value for their dollars.
Advantage: Draw

Rotation: Orlando Hernandez, Tom Glavine, Steve Trachsel and John Maine versus Derek Lowe, Hong-Chih Kuo, Greg Maddux and Brad Penny
With former Atlanta Braves starters Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux on opposing staffs, we could see the rare playoff series that both teams lose.
Advantage: Draw

Bullpen: Billy Wagner versus Takashi Saito
Billy Wagner hums his fastball up there in the triple digits. Of course, sometimes the batter connects and it's almost a guaranteed upper-deck home run. But either way, it's a win-win for the fans.
Advantage: Mets

Manager: Willie Randolph versus Grady Little
Grady Little took the crux of the blame for Boston's failure in the 2003 ALCS, so you can bet he'll do everything in his power to get the Dodgers to the World Series. In fact, he'll even leave L.A.'s ace in to pitch every inning of every postseason game if he has to.
Advantage: Dodgers


San Diego Padres vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Catcher: Mike Piazza versus Yadier Molina
Once one of the best hitters in all of baseball regardless of position, Mike Piazza's production at the plate has taken a noticeable downturn over the past few years. Yadier Molina, however, spared us ever having to suffer through watching him decline as he aged by deciding to be a lousy hitter from the beginning of his career.
Advantage: Cardinals

Albert Pujols
Frank Orris/WireImage.com
Don't be surprised if the real Albert Pujols finally shows up this October.

1B: Adrian Gonzalez versus Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols came out of nowhere in 2001 with a monster rookie season. Most thought he would drop off precipitously in his second year. He didn't. Nor did he in his third, fourth, fifth or sixth year. But it's coming, I tell you, it's coming. Eventually. And it could be this week.
Advantage: Padres

2B: Josh Barfield versus Ronnie Belliard
Ronnie Belliard was the Cardinals' big acquisition at the trade deadline. So clearly this is a team with no holes if Ronnie Belliard was all they needed.
Advantage: Cardinals

3B: Russell Branyan versus Scott Rolen
Scott Rolen is a Gold Glove-caliber third baseman, although he didn't get to show that this year due to injuries -- and also because, thanks to St. Louis' pitching staff, the majority of balls hit in his direction were rockets ripped well over his head on the way to the bleachers beyond the left-field fence.
Advantage: Cardinals

SS: Geoff Blum versus David Eckstein
Genius move here by the genius that is Tony La Russa to start a dwarf at shortstop. That strategy worked like a charm for the St. Louis Browns 55 years ago when Eddie Gaedel was walked on four pitches, and it will work again this postseason with the St. Louis Cardinals. Expect Eckstein to be on base a lot in this series.
Advantage: Cardinals

LF: Dave Roberts versus Chris Duncan
Dave Roberts is a cagey veteran who knows all the tricks of the trade, while Chris Duncan is a young, strapping hotshot who burst onto the scene and enjoyed immediate success. I don't know how either of them will perform in the playoffs, but maybe when the series is over they can team up to star in a hackneyed buddy cop movie.
Advantage: Draw

CF: Mike Cameron versus Jim Edmonds
Longtime St. Louis center fielder Jim Edmonds likely won't be back with the team in 2007, meaning he will be playing his heart out to hold off the Cardinals' inevitable playoff elimination as long as possible.
Advantage: Cardinals

RF: Brian Giles versus Juan Encarnacion
Brian Giles is a solid hitter, but more importantly, he is a great clubhouse presence who has been known to parade around the locker room naked, cracking jokes and playing pranks, to keep his teammates loose. That's the sort of thing that helps a newcomer to a team -- like Mike Piazza, for instance -- feel relaxed and at home.
Advantage: Padres

Rotation: Jake Peavy, Chris Young, David Wells and Woody Williams versus Chris Carpenter, Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver and Anthony Reyes
San Diego's playoff rotation is composed of one tall guy (Chris Young), one fat guy (David Wells) and two medium-sized guys (Jake Peavy and Woody Williams). That's the same lineup I used to win tons of Nintendo Ice Hockey games when I was a kid, so I see no reason it won't work for the Padres, too.
Advantage: Padres

Bullpen: Trevor Hoffman versus Adam Wainwright
Trevor Hoffman is baseball's all-time saves leader, sure, but he has never gone head-to-head against Adam Wainwright and come out with a victory.
Advantage: Cardinals

Manager: Bruce Bochy versus Tony La Russa
It must be pretty intimidating for Bruce Bochy to look across the diamond and see the great, unparalleled baseball genius, His Excellency Tony La Russa, in the other dugout. Although it's probably not even possible to look in La Russa's direction without going blind, what with all the light reflecting off of his dozens of World Series championship rings.
Advantage: Cardinals

DJ Gallo is the founder and sole writer of the award-winning sports satire site SportsPickle.com. He is also a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and Fantasy Sports Monthly, and has written for The Onion and Cracked. His first book -- "SportsPickle Presents: The View from the Upper Deck" -- will be in stores soon.




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