|The Rangers are banking on Josh Hamilton snapping out of his funk. (AP)|
This is stupid.
I know it's stupid. I'm doing it anyway.
The Rangers are going to win the World Series.
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It's stupid, because of the 10 teams that made it to the playoffs, the Rangers are the only one that can't feel good about the way they're playing.
It's stupid, because I'm writing this on Thursday morning, and by Friday night, I could already be proven wrong.
I should be picking one of the teams that's hot, like the A's or the Yankees or even the Tigers. I should be picking one of the teams that isn't playing in the wild-card game, because at least then if they lose in the first round, hardly anyone will remember that I picked them.
It's stupid to pick the Rangers. So why do it?
Because they're going to win. The bosses asked me to tell you who's going to win, even though they should know from my history that I have absolutely no chance of picking the winner.
I'm picking the Rangers, even though it's crazy to pick the Rangers. They look like they're in disarray, their big star is struggling (is that sinusitis from a couple of weeks back still affecting Josh Hamilton's vision?), there are rumors of front-office discontent and talk that the manager could be in trouble.
But that's this week.
Four weeks from now, we're going to be calling them World Series champions, for the first time ever.
Here's how it's going to happen:
Braves over Cardinals: How crazy is this? If the two wild-card system had been in effect last year, this is what we would have gotten, a one-game playoff between the Cardinals and Braves. The Braves would have won it then, and the Cardinals never would have won the World Series. Not really -- but the Braves will win it this time, because Kris Medlen never gives up any runs, and neither does the Braves' bullpen. If you never give up any runs, you win.
Rangers over Orioles: This is where the whole month starts to turn in the Rangers' favor. This is also where their big offseason decision to dump C.J. Wilson and spend big on Yu Darvish begins to pay off. Sorry, O's, and too bad that we'll never see a playoff game at Camden Yards this year, but Yu's going to win, and so are the Rangers.
Rangers vs. Yankees: Once the Yankees lose to a team in a postseason series, they have a tendency to lose to them again (think Angels in 2002 and 2005, Tigers in 2006 and 2011). The Yankees lost the ALCS to the Rangers in 2010. There's no Cliff Lee this time, but Darvish will eventually pitch, probably in Game 3 next Wednesday in New York, which may well be when this series turns. Rangers in 4
A's vs. Tigers: The Tigers were the surprise team when they swept the A's in the 2006 ALCS. The A's are the better story now. With Justin Verlander and Doug Fister and Max Scherzer and (of course) Miguel Cabrera, everything tells me to take the Tigers. So I'm not. A's in 5
Braves vs. Nationals: The bad news for the Braves is that because they need Medlen in the wild-card game, he won't start until Game 3. The bad news for the Nationals is that because they needed Stephen Strasburg for the first five months of the season, he won't start at all. The Nationals are still good enough to win without him. I'm saying they won't. Braves in 4
Reds vs. Giants: I kept picking against the Giants in 2010, and they kept winning. Giants fans got angry with me. You'd think they would thank me. Now, the new playoff format gives the Giants the big advantage of playing the first two games at home. Besides that, they're really, really good. Reds in 5
League Championship Series
Rangers vs. A's: Didn't we just see this series, twice in the last two weeks? Don't we know how it turns out? Yes, we did, and no, we don't. The postseason isn't the same as the regular season. The A's were the story of the regular season. The Rangers will be the story of the postseason. Rangers in 5
Braves vs. Reds: The Reds complained that no one nationally is giving them enough credit. I'm giving them so much credit that I'm saying they're going all the way to the World Series. The rotation is solid, Jay Bruce is going to have one of his hot months, and Dusty Baker in the World Series a month after his mini-stroke is too good a story to pass up. Reds in 6
Rangers vs. Reds: Now that the Rangers have made it this far, the storyline shifts. Now the focus isn't on September 2012, but rather on October 2010 and October 2011. And this is when Darvish really makes the difference. The Rangers signed him because they felt they needed a true No. 1 starter. This year, they have one. This year, the disappointment ends. Rangers in 5