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Wild Playoff Central

By Phil Janowicz

COLUMNIST

First of all, I’d like to apologize for my sudden week off last week. Be sure to set your alarm when you take a nap.

With the baseball regular season in its twilight, just a few races remain close. The AL “Comedy” Central has a tight race with the White Sox and Twins at the top of the heap with the Royals a bit behind. Don’t worry, the Royals still have a chance, seeing as they play the White Sox seven times in the next week and a half.

If the Royals don’t happen to take the Central as I predicted before the season started, I’d have to side with the Twins. How could I possibly pull for a team known for being an ass with players like Carl Everett and Frank Thomas. The bad side of Chicago was home to the Tom Gamboa attack last September against the Royals and the most biased sportscasters in the business. Their almost all black uniforms just confirm, as “Major League II” pointed out, that the White Sox are the most hated team in baseball.

Okay, now I know you’re all thinking, “But, I hate the Yankees! Everyone does! Why aren’t they the most hated team in baseball?” Well, as much as I agree with you all, the Yankees are indeed the most hated team among knowledgeable baseball enthusiasts. But, keep in mind that the city of New York and fair weather fans love the Yankees. If you thought that wasn’t enough, now the entire nation of Japan is a Yankees fan, therefore negating the hatred formulated in the States. The White Sox have half a city and most baseball fans hating them. Therefore, the White Sox are the most hated team in baseball.

On the National side of the coin, the Marlins, Phillies, and Dodgers are leading the Wild Wild Way. I like the Marlins right now because of their superior pitching over the Phillies and their superior offense over the Dodgers. The Phillies may look good, but, like the Eagles, they’ll fold in their finale at the Vet despite huge promise.

In the NL Central, the Astros, Cubs, and Cardinals are in a log jam with the Cardinals about to drown. Even though the Cubs have arguably the best pitching in the National League, their offense and fielding leave much to be desired. I see the Astros quietly emerging as the team to lose to the Braves in the Divisional Series.

Jano Awards:

Hitting: Vladimir “The Impaler” Guerrero of the Montreal Expos. Vlad is now the fourth player this season to hit for the cycle. Also this week, Vlad has six runs, two homers, ten RBIs, one stolen base, and a .407 average. Hopefully next year you can lead your Expos, wherever they play, to the playoffs.

Honorable Mention: “Touched By An” Angel Berroa of the Kansas City Royals. A large reason for the Royals still being in the playoff race is the playing of Berroa. The past week, he has eleven runs, five RBIs, four stolen bases, and a .483 average, including a five for five performance Tuesday against my Indians. Angel and Pena are getting many to believe in the Royals this year.

Pitching: Pedro “K-Man” Martinez of the Boston Red Sox. Vintage Pedro. The past week, he has racked up two wins, one complete game, fifteen K’s, a 1.06 ERA, and a 0.71 WHIP. With Pedro like this, the Sox are unstoppable.

Honorable Mention: Bartolo “Obsession” Colon of the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox playoff hopes are riding on their pitching staff, and Colon has proven he’s worthy of relentless praise. At Fenway, Colon pitched a complete game win, allowing only one unearned run and a WHIP of 0.78.

Utility: Joe “Steve Miller” Randa of the Kansas City Royals. Commonly known as “The Joker” in the Royals clubhouse, Randa always has a smile on his face. A large reason the Royals are playing so well down the stretch is his hitting at the hot corner. The past week alone, Randa has five runs, three homers, sixteen RBIs, and a .364 average.

Honorable Mention: Alex “Drug Runner” Escobar of the Cleveland Indians. Acquired in the Roberto Alomar trade with the Mets, Escobar is a fountain of power at the plate. Despite injuries, the Indians have stuck with Escobar because they know that he will produce next year. Just a little taste of what’s to come is his stats last week: six runs, one homer, five RBIs, one stolen base, and a .393 average.

Boner of the Week: Paul “Slump” Konerko of the Chicago White Sox. Returning to early season form, Konerko has gone one for fourteen in the past week. Keep sucking, Paul. Keep sucking.

Honorable Mention: Matt “Mr. Clean” Bryant of the New York Giants. Okay, this is football, but the NFL has started, and this was really bad. After the Giants kicked a field goal with eleven seconds to go in the fourth quarter to go up 32-29. On the ensuing kickoff, Bryant proceeded to squib kick the ball out of bounds at the half yard line for an illegal procedure penalty. The Cowboys got the ball at the forty with no time run off the clock and proceeded to throw a twenty-five yard pass to set up a 52-yard field goal, which sent the game to overtime. The Cowboys won in overtime leaving the Giants fans in shock.