Do you ever wonder how much thought goes into the predictions made by members of the media? This year, when it came to baseball's League Championship Series, it certainly made me wonder.
The Philadelphia Phillies won the NL East with a 92-70 record, while the Los Angeles Dodgers finished with 84 wins in taking the mediocre NL West. The teams split 8 games during the regular season, each sweeping a 4-game series in its home park, all games coming after the Dodgers traded for Manny Ramirez.
The matchup of the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays seemed to be an even closer pairing. The Rays finished with 97 wins, taking the AL East by 2 games over the Sox. During the regular season the Rays took 10 of the 18 games between the teams, winning 8 of 9 at home but only 2 of 9 in Boston.
Based on those results, you might have been inclined to pick either team in each league. For example, on the poll set up on the Outsports Discussion board, the Phillies received 9 votes to the Dodgers' 7 while the Rays had an 11-5 margin over the Red Sox. (I admit it's not a large survey.)
The "experts" at various media outlets saw it differently. Let's take a look at what the writers at the following websites came up with:
Rob Neyer: Phillies 4-3, Rays 4-2
Jayson Stark: Dodgers 4-3, Red Sox 4-2
Tim Kurkjian: Dodgers 4-3, Red Sox 4-3
Steve Phillips: Dodgers 4-3, Red Sox 4-3
Ken Rosenthal: Dodgers 4-3, Rays 4-2
Tim Brown: Dodgers 4-2, Red Sox 4-2
Jeff Passan: Dodgers 4-2, Rays 4-2
Steve Henson: Dodgers 4-1, Red Sox 4-3
Gordon Edes: Dodgers 4-3, Red Sox 4-3
The Sporting News
Matt Lutvosky: Dodgers 4-2, Red Sox 4-1
Justin McGuire: Phillies 4-2, Rays 4-3
Brad Pinkerton: Dodgers 4-3, Red Sox 4-2
Chris Bahr: Phillies 4-3, Red Sox 4-2
Danny Knobler: Dodgers 4-3, Red Sox 4-2
Eric Mack: Dodgers 4-3, Red Sox 4-1
Scott Miller: Dodgers 4-2, Red Sox 4-2
Mark Rosen: Dodgers 4-2, Red Sox 4-3
Of the 17 "geniuses" listed above, 14 chose the Dodgers over the Phillies and 13 took the Red Sox over the Rays. 12 picked both the Dodgers and Red Sox to advance to the World Series. Only Rob Neyer of ESPN.com and Justin McGuire of The Sporting News correctly called a Phillies-Rays Fall Classic. Take a bow, fellas.
So why on earth did they so overwhelmingly, and wrongly, predict a Boston-Los Angeles World Series?
You don't suppose it was because they all desperately wanted to spend days and days blathering on about the glorious return of Manny Ramirez to Boston to face his former team in the World Series, do you? As if that wouldn't have become tiresome within about 5 minutes. Thank you, Phillies and Rays, for sparing us from the "Manny returns to Fenway" drivel.
Oh, and take the Phillies in 6 in the Series. Trust me. I'm writing on a blog so I obviously know my stuff.