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Playoff Predictions

My beloved White Sox fell way short of the Division title despite winning 88 games. I must say that I wasn’t expecting them to win that many games during the pre-season. In fact in recent years, 88 games will win you the AL Central Division Title. But the Twins had to steal the show after the All-Star break and completely shut us down for the year. Alas, another season has passed but that doesn’t mean I will stop paying attention to baseball. The post-season has arrived and here are my picks: (expect extremely casual analysis without little to any merit).

AMERICAN LEAGUE

ALDS: Rays-Rangers: Rays Win in 4.

First of all, I really like both teams. The Rays are the antithesis of The Yankees – small market team, based centered around versatility, speed, and defense. The Rangers haven’t been to the post-season in over 10 years and are starting to make a turnaround in their organization spearheaded by Nolan Ryan.

that Nolan Ryan.

This is certainly the most difficult series to predict and easily the most interesting. Both teams have ridiculous pitching. I think Texas has the edge with their hitting but the Rays are more efficient with runners on base.

But if I had to decide I would say the Rays simply because of their ability to win with their outstanding defense and speed. Also, a pesky home field advantage doesn’t hurt as well. And everyone on that roster is thinking at the back of their mind when they will have another opportunity like this?

Either way if the Rangers win, I’ll be ecstatic. They deserve to be a force to be reckon with. Plus, I love Cliff Lee.

ALDS: Yankees-Twins: Twins Win in 5.

As a White Sox, I love the Minnesota Twins. They’re the most respectable opponent in baseball second maybe to The Rays. They’re just so god damn efficient. I don’t know how Ron Gardenhire does it year in and year out. They always seem to have question marks on their roster (most notably Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan this year) and yet always seem to defy expectations. They too rely on their speed but also they seem to always come through in the clutch. I don’t know how they can stay so consistent year after year.

The Yankees are the Yankees. I hate the Yankees. I hate their philosophy on baseball and I hate their obnoxious fans – easily the worst. Most Yankees fans aren’t even from New York. Seriously? How can you not root for the team that is geographically closest to you? Those people aren’t baseball fans. Being part of a team means that you stick together through good and bad times. So when you actually have a shot at glory, there is no better feeling. Yankees fans do not understand that because they are spoiled brats. They’re the Veruca Salt of Major League Baseball.

“I want a golden goose now!”

But I will say this: every sport needs a villian. The Yankees are the ultimate villian. Someone has to do it. Just like how Lebron took that niche this past summer.

so gay.

Ultimately I truly believe the Twins will win this series because this is arguably the best Twins team we’ve seen in years. They’ve also been one of the hottest team if not THE hottest since the All-Star Break. They may not have a true ace but their rotation has been surprisingly consistent and unbearably confident. Liriano’s 14 wins is incredibly deceiving and the rest of the pack can put up a fight against all the Yankees starters except for maybe Sabathia.

The Yanks power and hitting will bolster their chances but after C.C. their rotation isn’t what it was last year and they should never underestimate out The Twinkies.

Plus, I love Jim Thome.

ALCS: Twins – Rays: Twins win in 7

Again, any team that isn’t named The Yankees making it to the Championship Series will be extremely satisfying. Both of my picks are two teams I would love to see go all the way. But in the end, if I had to roll the dice, I would like The Twins have a shot at the title. No analysis needed, just a simple guess.

National LEAGUE

NLDS: San Francisco – Atlanta – San Francisco in 5

This is where my analysis gets even more shady as we venture in the National League but here’s what I think anyways. San Fran and ATL are the two teams people don’t truly expect to make it past the Championship Series. But if I had to give an edge to either or it would have to be San Francisco. Their pitching is underrated entering the playoffs and they actually started swinging the bat again after a lengthy absence.

The Braves have had lights out pitching in September as well but ultimately prevail with their hitting especially without Chipper Jones and Martin Prado. If there is a reason The Braves continue to the next round it’s because of Bobby Cox. The dude is in his final season with the organization and they want to do it justly.

scary, intimidating old man.

NLDS: Phillies-Reds – Phillies in 4

Oh Philadelphia. Entering the 2008 season, I was too worried about the Cubs winning it all (which couldn’t have been more true), I wasn’t focusing on what would be the first World Series win for what could very well be a dynasty team. This year is no different. The Phillies are way too sick nasty with their pitching: Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels. It is a shame for the underdog-ish Cincinnati Reds. The Reds will put up a good fight with the amount of pop in their offense but pitching is what wins you championships. And Philadelphia has 3 starts that can easily anchor an entire team. Halladay is undoubtedly the NL Cy Young Winner and has never even had the chance to go to the post-season. He will finally have that chance for ultimate glory which is a ridiculously scary thing. Oswalt was on the ’05 Astros staff when they made it to the Series but we all know that got swept from a much highly superior team. He asked to be traded to a contending team and here he is behind Halladay to make up the greatest 1-2 combo in the post season.

It really is a shame because the Reds are an excellent baseball team that defied expectations and then some this season. The few things holding them back are their spotty record against first place teams and their starting pitching. Not one of their pitchers stands out as a true ace  but certainly have the stuff to compete. Ultimately, the Phillies pitching is too overpowering.

NLCS: Phillies-San Francisco – Phillies in 5

Same story. Phillies pitching is too damn good. Stupid Phillies.

World Series: Twins – Phillies

One half of this match up is who I want there, and the other half is who will probably come strolling in. I really like the Twins but I can see any of these AL teams making it to the Series – even the Yankees. But its the Twins who I want to take the Big Kahuna – for the AL Central and for arguably the most efficient organization in baseball. The 2010 Twins remind me of my beloved 2005 White Sox. There certainly are similarities: No lights out starters, excellent bullpen, the ability to score runs in several different ways, and a team that defied expectations.

But what about the Phillies? Their offense respectively matches up with the Twins but they also have the best rotation in the post season. I hate to say it but I think in the end, the Phillies will make it to the series for a third straight year and win it all. I don’t like it but I like their chances of winning if we’re talking probability.

Players I Will be Rooting For

  • Jim Thome: I love Mr. Incredible. It was sad to see him go but he really didn’t fit in to our preliminary plans entering the pre-season. However, in retrospect it would have been nice to have Thome’s production value if he was not an everyday DH like he was with Minnesota. Regardless, the nicest guy in baseball deserves a ring and he may never have another opportunity like this ever again.


  • Buster Posey: The dude is a stud. What can I say? A rookie catcher that is bringing  a spark back to the SF lineup that hasn’t been seen since well, Barry Bonds?
  • Roy Halladay: No one should hate on Halladay for being on the Phillies. Is it really his fault he was tearing it up in baseball purgatory with Toronto and had enough of it? The guy is one of the best pitchers of all time, just give him a ring.
  • Joey Votto: What is not to like about him? You’re an asshole if you have a problem with him.
  • Nick Swisher: Because he’s Nick Swisher.

great episode of How I Met Your Mother

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A few days ago, the United States issued a warning to all Americans in Europe that there was a higher risk of a terrorist attack based on “cumulative analysis.” The State Department did not mention any specific cities but suggested that anyone near areas of tourism and public transportation should be alert. As a result, my school cancelled a trip to Paris to examine the site for our design project. They thought with the risk of an attack, that having 48 American students congregating at the same train station might not necessarily be a good idea so instead we’ll be going this Friday 🙂

However, we also have a research paper for our History of French Architecture class that requires us to visit the site of our building. Mine is in Paris. It’s the Val-de-Grace. Regardless of what it is, I am required to go to my site, take some pictures, sketch the main facade, along with a few other typed up research details by Friday in order to receive full credit for Appendix I.

Val-de-Grâce

So today, despite the warning issued out a few days ago, I ventured into the heart of Paris to complete my assignment or die trying of course. I took the train into Paris from Versailles and had to transfer at St. Michel Notre-Dame, which just happens to be the station right next to Notre Dame Cathedral, a hot spot for tourists. It was also the location of a bombing that happened in 1995. I was somewhat nervous transferring off at that spot but I knew that I had to continue on with my life and that this is just a warning and nothing is absolutely guaranteed. The terror alert was raised up dozens of times during Bush’s presidency. But I was reassured as well as intimidated to see many armed guards walking around the station. However, you do have to remember that you can’t be afraid and must go on.

typical French soldier

And in the end, I came back in one piece AND I found some really helpful information along the way for my research paper. It is certainly an interesting time to be living in Paris, for better or for worse. I hope for the better.

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Oktoberfest (not edited)

Months prior to our arrival in France, most of my classmates and I decided to go to Munich, Germany for the biggest beer bash on the planet, Oktoberfest. It wasn’t easy but after months of Facebook messaging one another, we booked our flights along with our “room + board,” and immediately the weekend of the 18th of September became one of the most anticipated events of the year.

The majority of the people attending Oktoberfest had flights leaving Paris early Saturday morning, with mine along with a dozen others, taking off at 8:15 AM (hey Flight 815!). Our program directors organized a bus to take us all to the airport, in an attempt to avoid any potential train issues, and ensuring our departures and gratefully so. However, we had to wake up early enough to be on the bus by 5 AM. Buuuut it was well worth it to say the least.

We waited an hour and a half at the terminal for our plane to arrive and soon enough we were on our way to Munich. We were excited to say the least.

We arrive at the Munich airport and immediately, I learned something about Europeans that we’ve consistently been told about from our program directors: Americans are loud and Europeans are not. The Munich Airport sounded like a library it was so quiet. With hundreds of people around, hardly anyone was speaking louder than a faint whisper. So you heard it hear first people, Americans are LOUD. We needed to buy train tickets for the Munich railway system and had a little trouble figuring out what the most cost effective train pass would be for 30 college students. Luckily, two completely different women gave up their train passes good for 5 people for the whole day to our group. Who’d a thought that German people were so unbelievably nice? Because I certainly did not.

Our first order of business was to check in at Wiesn’Camp, where we were staying the night. But first, a little info regarding Wiesn’Camp. Wiesn’Camp is at company (that I believe is owned by a local brewery) that rents out a soccer field and places tents and trailers for the young, daring Oktoberfest goer. Basically it’s like the Quidditch World Cup.

Minus the threat of Death Eaters.


But Wiesn’Camp is really cool because its a crowd of a bunch of young people from all over the world. Met some people from The States, Canada, Ireland throughout my stay. They also sell food and drinks for all meals of the day, which includes half-liters of beer for breakfast apparently because I saw people drinking at 10 AM. The people at the front office even screwed up our tent situation by assigning us a preoccupied tent. As a result, we received complimentary beers on their behalf.

cheers Guv’na!

I have never tasted a German biere before, in fact, I don’t think I can even name a single brand. But when my lips tasted my first of what was to be many German beverages, I was completely caught off guard by the sheer quality of the world-renown Bavarian Pilsner taste.  The contrast is uncanny. The foam was thicker than most beers and that too was even delicious, it may have even contributed to its amazingness. Now I am not a biere connoisseur, despite my spelling of the word “beer” would imply, in the slightest but I could definitely taste a difference from beers back home – which isn’t saying much considering the highest quality of beer found at most college campuses are Corona (if you want to even call that high quality, but really let’s be honest, it’s the cool, hip brand that attracts us to Corona), Heinken, and 312. Not exactly the cream of the crop, but trust me on this one – there is a BIG difference.

By the time we were settled in and ready to go to Oktoberfest it was about 1:00 and the festival had been open for a whole 3 hours at that point! That’s the equivalent to like 8,000 liters already consumed, we had work to do. The people at Wiesn’Camp gave us terrible directions, despite their remedial English skills, and we took a bus that led us to a station that was much farther away than the one they attempted to recommend, which was a 10 minute walk away. Regardless, we made it to the station and this really awesome Australian woman told us the fastest route to get there from the train station. So first two women give us free train passes, then we get a complimentary half-liter of Wiesn’Camp’s finest, and then this Australian women tells us the best route to the grounds, along with words of conventional wisdom and within 3 hours of arriving to Germany we realized how much the French are simply assholes. The amount of courtesy we received was unprecedented in Germany. The French would never have helped us out like their Eastern neighbors did. What jerks.

We arrive at Oktoberfest and it’s completely packed. Similiar to the crowds at The Taste and Lollapalooza only there are locals wearing Lederhosen and Dinrdls, and oddly enough there are a number of children with their families. We walk outside the train station and amongst the Oktoberfest crowd we there are food stands, beer tents, and a surprising amount of carnival rides as far as the eye can see.

Now who is going to want to ride that after drinking?

My group and I decided that we should get in line and try to get into a biere tent but little did we know that in order to truly get into an Oktoberfest biere tent you need to either do the following: a) secure a reservation months in advance, b) get there early in the morning before the doors open and storm the hall like it’s the Bastille when they do open their doors, c) wait over 4 hours, or d) bribe your way in. Fortunately the waiting line was next to one of the tent’s outdoor bieregartens and we drank a few steins while we waited in line.

“To alcohol: The problem and solution to all of life’s problems.”

A stein is about one liter in volume. A liter is the equivalent to 34 oz. Which means one large stein at Oktoberfest is the equivalent to about 2.666 (repeating of course) beer cans. And at about 9 euros a piece, that is one hell of a deal. Oktoberfest is a Bavarian tradition and not a corporate money grab as to the likes of Lollapalooza or sporting events. Therefore, the local breweries chose their prices at their own discretion which is a very good thing to the consumer – especially for students.

The rest of Oktoberfest was a blast. Basically it consisted of wandering around with people, drinking, eating, and waiting in line to go to the bathroom. Some people even snuck into a tent with the help of a shady, German security guard. I on the other hand only made it into one when the the night was dwindling down and I was on my way to the train when I hear Queen’s We Are the Champions, emitting from a roarious crowd in the Hofbrau Tent. Now the weird part was I was singing the song all day. From the early morning and onward because I read the night before that Sacha Baron Cohen was casted to play Freddy Mercury in the upcoming Queen biopic. My tent-mate, Andrew, and I immediately entered the vicinity, marveled at the site of a beer hall at day’s end, and joined in on the harmonies of thousands pretending they were the Queen front man, or soon Borat for that matter.

Sleeping at Wiesn’Camp was interesting to say the least. I did not take into account how cold the ground was going to be. It’s not my fault, I’ve never been camping. I had my REI sleeping liner but that did very little from the laws of thermodynamics from transferring my body heat to the ground. But I drank enough Bavarian refreshments to not care too much at all. Some people didn’t even bring  anything and resorted to spooning and layers upon layers of clothes. But no such luck. Those people froze.

In the morning, people left for the respective flights back but I had until 4:30 til my flight left so I and a few others spent the day in Munich exploring the city. We saw some cool architecture and a museum dedicated to German and Flemish painters. I took the train to the airport all by myself like a big boy and had lunch: Currywurst and Fries with a Fanta to wash it down.

it wasn’t until two bites in did I realize I should take a picture.

On the plane ride back, I was reflecting on what was an unbelievably fun weekend. Somehow Oktoberfest lived up to the hype. It really did. It was intense, but was still well maintained. I feel more in danger at The Taste than I did at Oktoberfest. I know someday I will come back under these conditions: 1) I go with my close friends from back home, 2) we stay there for at least 2 nights, and 3) we get in a beer hall tent. I now know what to expect and most of the ins and outs. Now it is only a matter of time. I can’t wait to go back.

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