Search This Blog

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Must See Sports – Third Weekend of October 2011

October has it all in sports. Unfortunately, we will not have the NBA preseason, leading up to the start of the regular season because the preseason and the first two weeks of the NBA regular season have been cancelled. Enough dwelling on the negative, here are this weeks must see sports events.

NBA Commissioner David Stern is clearly losing sleep over the lockout. 1
Thursday, October 13


(Note: all MLB stats are as of the morning of Wednesday, October 12, 2011)

American League Championship Series – Game 5
Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers
C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94 ERA) – Rangers vs Justin Verlander (24-5, 2.40 ERA) – Tigers

Wilson has had one good start and been torched once in the postseason, with an ERA of 7.45 in October. Fortunately, the good start was the most recent one, ending in a Rangers victory in Game 1 of this series.

Justin Verlander was so dominant in the regular season that he was considered a threat to throw a no hitter every time he took the mound. In October, however, he has had a sub-par 5.54 ERA through 3 starts.

The momentum in this series appears to have shifted, with the venue, to Detroit. Verlander will be at home with his team’s back against the wall in a pivotal, if not decisive, Game 5. I think the Tigers have the edge.

Advantages – Game: Tigers, Series: Tigers

It's now or never for Verlander to pull a rabbit out of his hat. 2

National League Championship Series – Game 4
Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals
Randy Wolfe (13-10, 3.69 ERA) – Brewers vs Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.39 ERA) – Cardinals

Both pitchers were absolutely pummeled in their last starts and need to have short memories. These are two similar pitchers in similar situations. I expect the bats to be the difference in this game.

The hitting advantage is with the Brewers. While the Cards have gotten some pop, at times, from different parts of their batting order during the postseason, their only true staple of consistent productivity in the lineup has been Albert Pujols. Phat Albert is batting .414 with a homerun and 6 RBIs in October. His teammate Lance Berkman could provide Pujols and the entire batting order a boost if he can break out of his mini slump, hitting only .231 in the postseason (.301, 31 HR, 94 RBI in the regular season).

Milwaukee, on the other hand has had their big guns firing away. Ryan Braun, as of Wednesday morning, is batting .500 with 2 homeruns and 8 RBIs in the postseason. The powerful Prince Fielder has 3 postseason homeruns, including homers in Games 1 and 2 against the Cardinals.

Advantages – Game: Brewers, Series: Brewers

Cards fans can only hope those fingers aren't the number of games left for Albert in St. Louis. 3

Friday, October 14

National League Championship Series – Game 5
Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals
Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83 ERA) – Brewers vs Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.56 ERA) – Cardinals

A former Cy Young winner, Greinke has looked like anything but in October, with an ERA north of 8.00 in two October starts. Jaime Garcia was lit up like a Jack-O-Lantern on Halloween, giving up 2 homers and 6 earned runs in Game 1, last Sunday.

Loose pitching favors the better hitting team and Milwaukee hits as well as any team in the National League.

Advantages – Game: Brewers, Series: Brewers

Saturday, October 15

American League Championship Series – Game 6 (if necessary)
Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers
Max Scherzer (15-9, 4.43 ERA) – Tigers vs Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95 ERA) – Rangers

If necessary, I like Derek Holland at home in the pitching matchup and therefore this game.

Advantages – Game: Rangers, Series: Tigers

NCAA Football

#11 Michigan Wolverines at #23 Michigan State Spartans

If you haven’t seen Denard “Shoelace” Robinson (1130 passing yards, 10 TD, 9 INT, 57% comp.; 720 rushing yards 8 TD, 7.1 avg.), you should tune in to this one. Robinson has been a one man show for the Wolverines, unbeaten through their first six games. Robinson’s contribution in combination with a defense giving up less than 13 points per game has the Wolverines peering in to the top 10 rankings.

The Michigan State Spartans will provide the Wolverines with their first ranked competition of the season. MSU is coming off of a narrow win over Ohio State, but did, in fact, lose to an unranked and inconsistent Notre Dame team last month. Even though the Spartans are at home, the Wolverines have a powerful weapon in Robinson and have been somewhat more consistent than their cross-state rivals.

Advantage: Michigan

The Shoelace craze is catching on! 4

Sunday, October 16

National League Championship Series – Game 6 (if necessary)
St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers
Edwin Jackson (12-9, 3.79 ERA) – Cardinals vs Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.54 ERA) – Brewers

If this series reaches a sixth game, I like the chances of Marcum and the Brew Crew in the close out game.

Advantages – Game: Brewers, Series: Brewers

American League Championship Series – Game 7 (if necessary)
Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers
Doug Fister (11-13, 2.83 ERA) – Tigers vs Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40 ERA) – Rangers

In spite of the home field advantage, and in spite of Lewis recording 6 strikeouts in each of his first two October starts, I like what I have seen from Fister in high pressure situations in the post season. His nerves of steel were on full display in Fister’s in his 7.1 inning, 2 earned run performance in a must win situation, Tuesday night, in Game 3, with the Tigers down 0-2. I am also a bigger believer in the Tigers’ bats than those of the Rangers.


San Francisco 49ers (4-1) at Detroit Lions (5-0)

This is not a game I had circled on my football watching calendar in preseason. Nonetheless, this is a key, mid season, NFC matchup. The Lions are off to their best start in over a half-century. Solid defense, particularly with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh’s (16 tak., 2 sacks) outright intimidation and dominance at the line of scrimmage, a healthy tandem of Matt Stafford (1436 yds., 13 TD, 4 INT) and Calvin “Megatron” Johnson (29 rec., 451 yds., 9 TD), and a no-quit attitude have the Lions as the buzz of the Motor City.

The 49ers, frankly, have me scratching my head. The only thing I can say is that their Head Coach, Jim Harbaugh, is earning every nickel of his lucrative (some have implied, “inflated”) contract. Quarterback Alex Smith (965 yds., 7 TD, 1 INT, 66% comp.) has still yet to demonstrate a grand awakening for an extended period, but he is not losing games and he’s been very efficient in 2011. The Niners are doing it the old fashioned way: running people over, particularly with running back Frank Gore (400 yds., 3 TD, 4.3 avg.) and taking the run away, 4th in the league, allowing a paltry 76 yards per game.

Because Smith has yet to step up and rise as a leader (as opposed to not losing the games for his team), I am still not buying the 49ers stock. On the other hand, I bought Detroit’s stock in the preseason and now, I am ready to corner the market!

Advantage: Lions

The Lions' last NFL Championship was in 1957, over the Cleveland Browns, 57-14. 5

New Orleans Saints (4-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2)

The Saints are never out of a game when quarterback Drew Brees (1,769 yds., 12 TD, 5 INT) is in the game. Brees had engineered 4th quarter comebacks against the Houston Texans in week 3 and last week against the quickly improving Carolina Panthers. Brees also brought the Saints within 1 yard of tying the Green Bay Packers in Opening Night Kickoff Game.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have positioned themselves to be in the playoff race this season. There is nothing flashy about this team, but they are young, disciplined, and well coached. Josh Freeman (1,156 yds., 3 TD, 6 INT) is a quickly improving, emerging future star who possesses a running threat (2 rushing TDs) if needed. However, running back LeGarrette Blount (328 yds., 3 TD, 4.3 avg.) is questionable for the game with a knee injury.

This is a critical game, as the winner will hold sole possession of first place (after tiebreakers) in the NFC South. I expect the Buccaneers to play tough at home and the Saints will have to bring their “A game” to win. I also think that as long as the Saints take care of the football that they simply have too much firepower for the Bucs.

Advantage: Saints

Maybe the Bucs should break out the retro uniforms, with Bucco Bruce on the white helmet. 6

Monday, October 17

National League Championship Series – Game 7 (if necessary)
St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers
Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.45 ERA) – Cardinals vs Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52 ERA) – Brewers

Should the series require a deciding seventh game, the matchup of ace pitchers has all of the makings of an all time playoff classic in the history of Major League Baseball. Both pitchers have had ice in their veins. The Brewers’ Gallardo has a 1.29 ERA in two post season starts. The Cardinals’ Carpenter may have single-handedly saved his team’s season.

Chris Carpenter spun a gem, which will go down in Cardinals lore should the Cards continue to advance, a complete game shutout on the road in a deciding, 1-0, Game 5 win in the National League Divisional series against the Philadelphia Phillies. Many, myself included, had the Phillies penciled in the World Series and, without that masterpiece by Carpenter, I think the Phillies would have been there.

From my vantage point, a Game 7, with this pitching matchup, would merit 50/50 odds at a neutral site. The Brewers, however, are at home and I think they will have the slightest advantage in this game.

Advantage: Brewers

The 1-2 punch of Braun (left) and Fielder (right) has to come through for the Brewers to advance to the World Series. 7
Don't forget to vote in the fan polls!

To advertise with The Daily Hat Trick, or to submit a guest column, please contact the editor at

The Daily Hat Trick is sponsored by Sports N Stuff. For great deals on jerseys, shirts, cologne, and other guy stuff, visit
1) Image from
2) Image from
3) Image from
4) Image from
5) Image from
6) Image from Getty Images via
7) Image from

No comments:

Post a Comment