By Phil Hecken
Well this is a fine mess.
I had hoped to come to you today with predictions for the MLB playoffs, based on the simple premise that the better uniformed team will win the series. And I will. There’s just one small problem. Going into the final day of the MLB season, not a single playoff series has been determined. Thanks to a resurgent Padres team, and a Phillies team that just keeps on winning, the NL will have five teams alive for four playoff berths today. And depending upon the results of those games, we may have not one, but two extra games beginning next week, just to determine the playoffs.
Things are a little more clear in the AL, where the four playoff teams have been decided for almost a full week. But, thanks to the uncertainty of who will win the American League East, we won’t know whether the Rangers travel to New York or St. Pete, nor whether the Twins will host the Yanks or Rays until the games are over today.
Who says the last week of the season isn’t exciting.
So, with that uncertainty in mind, lets set up the scenarios and predict the winners based upon all possible matchups, OK?
American League Divisional Series
We know one thing for certain: Either the Rays or the Yankees will be the Wild Card team in the ALDS. What we don’t know is which team will be the Wild Card. Three possiblities exist. If the Yankees have a better record, they win the East. If the Rays have a better record, they win. And if the two teams are tied, the Rays would win the east because of a 10-8 edge in head-to-head play. If the Yankees win the East, they host the Rangers and the Rays head to Minnesota. If the Rays win the East, they host the Rangers and the Yankees head to Minnesota.
Entering play today, the Yankees and Rays are tied. So a Rays win gives them the division, regardless of what the Yankees do. A Rays loss and a Yankees loss also gives the Rays the title. If the Yanks win and the Rays lose, then the Yanks are your AL East champs. That’s pretty simple. Let’s pick those scenarios now.
Say what you will about the Yankees, but you cannot deny their uniforms are absolute classics, especially their homes. Any time the Yankees wear the pinstripes, they earn the advantage over any other team. Their road uniforms are also pretty sweet, but not invincible. Texas presents some interesting uniform possibilities: standard home, plus a red softball top and a blue softball top. On the road, they’ll wear either their standard grays or sometimes their blue alt. I would hope they’ll stick with their whites and grays, but it could be a total crapshoot. Nevertheless, the pinstripes with a home field will present too great a uniform challenge for the Rangers to overcome (and their red alternate is actually one softball top I don’t hate). *IF the Yanks play the Texases, Yankees in 4
If the Rays are the wild card and travel to Minnesota, this could be a very close series. As the home team, the Twins have a beautiful standard uni, an absolutely gorgeous fauxback alternate, and a dreadful softball top to choose from. Unless they decide (foolishly) to break out the navy top, the Twins home uniforms are solid. The Rays can only muster a plain gray or a dreary softball top as opposition. Advantage Twins. For the games inside the dome, the Rays offer up a solid, if unspectacular standard home, with the option of topping that with the dreary blue or the much nicer powder blue top. The Twins can answer with their new script, pinless roadie (which I happen to think is a HUGE improvement over the pinstriped roads, although many of you disagree) or their own uninspired alt. I can’t see Minnesota losing this uni battle, unless they somehow think wearing that blue alternate is a good idea. *IF the Twins play the Rays, Twins in 5.
The above scenarios had the Yankees winning the AL East. If the Rays win, that would set up the Yankees heading to Minnesota and the Rays hosting the Rangers.
Even though I would rank the Yankees home uni as the “supreme” uniform in the ALDS, the would only have the option to wear it two times. The Twins, on the other hand, could throw either of their homes at the Yankee roads and I’d give the edge to the Twins. The only cog in that machine is if the Twins somehow elect to wear that god-awful blue top. I’d wager they wouldn’t. *IF the Yankees play the Twins, Twins in 5.
The Rays hosting the Rangers could be a barn burner, because the Rays home uni isn’t that much more attractive than the Rangers gray roads, and if the Rays elect to wear the dark blue top even once, that could tip the series. The Rangers in white is far superior to the Rays in either gray or their navy alt. This could come down to a game five. Dare the Rays break out plaid-brimmed cap at any point? What about the powder tops and rups? It won’t be enough. *IF Texas plays Tampa, Rangers in 5.
National League Divisional Series
Here’s where things get really interesting, because not only are the teams not yet decided, the only thing we know for sure is that the Fightin’s have the home field and the Reds are in. Other than that, nothing is for certain.
In one of those “if the season ended Saturday” scenarios, the Giants would win the NL West, leaving the Padres and Braves to fight it out for the Wild Card on Monday. But the season ends today, so there are a whole mess of things in play. Here we go:
1) If the Giants beat the Padres, the Giants win the NL West. A Giants win coupled with Braves win, and the Braves become the wild card team. If the Giants win and the Braves lose, the Braves play the Padres on Monday in Atlanta for the wild card.
2) If the Padres beat the Giants, they win the NL West (although they would be tied, the Pads own a better head-to-head record). If that happens, and the Braves lose, the Giants win the wild card.
3) If the Pads beat the Giants and the Braves win, all three teams would finish at 91-71, and that “better head-to-head” record between the Padres & Giants is irrelevant. The Padres and Giants would play each other Monday to decide the NL West. The loser of that game would play Atlanta on Tuesday to decide the Wild Card.
Got all that? Sure you do.
Of course, the two “easiest” solutions are for both the Giants and Braves to win (SF wins NL West, Braves win Wild Card) or both the Giants and Braves to lose (SD wins NL West, SF wins wild card). Anything else will involve a playoff.
(ESPN explains all this better than I just did.)
Lets dispense with all that for now, and go with the if the season ended Saturday night…” scenario. That would pit the Reds at the Phillies and the Braves at the Giants.
Anyone going up against the Phillies is in for a fight, especially since they’ll have the home uni edge. They’ll wear their home pins for evening games at CBP, and their smooth creams for day games. While the Reds have only their gray roadies to combat that, it’s too much to overcome. For games in GABP, the Reds can wear their very nice standard homes for evenings or put on their red softball top for day games. While I actually like the red alt, and would give those a slight edge over the Philly roads, it won’t be enough. *IF the Phillies play the Reds, Phillies in 3.
This would be a nightmare series to predict. The Giants, as the hosts, would wear their home creams…unless a game is played on a Friday, in which case they would wear their orange tops. If they play on a Sunday, the Giants will toss on their orange billed caps. Meanwhile, the Braves would sport either their standard grays or their navy softball alts. Advanage Giants, unless they play on a Friday and the Braves wear gray. For games in Atlanta, the Braves throw either their classic whites or, if the game is on a Sunday, their red alts. The Giants counter with their road grays, unless it’s a Sunday, in which case they’d swap the solid cap for the orange bill, but the Braves will be in red. My head hurts. Despite this being Bobby Cox’ swansong, the unis won’t carry the day. *IF the Braves play the Giants, Giants in 4.
For all the other scenarios, we’ll go through the breakdowns. Fortunately the San Diego Padres uniforms will eliminate them from consideration no matter who they play. The only one that isn’t horrible is their home white, which isn’t bad, but is non-descript. Their other choices for home kits include their navy alt and their awful camo alt. For their road games, their soon-to-be-retired
piss sand uni or the blue over sand won’t carry them past anyone. With that being said, let’s see how the other matchups break down:
Giants vs. Phillies: The Giants unis could give the Phils a run for the money, but the Philly homes tip the scales. *IF the Phillies play the Giants, Phillies in 4.
Reds vs. Braves: I’m not sure this matchup could exist. But as of Sunday morning, the Reds, Braves and Padres all have 90 wins. If they all win Sunday (and then all that other stuff happens), I suppose a scenario might exist where the Reds and Braves would play each other. If they did, the Reds would be the home team and have the edge, uni wise. *IF the Reds play the Braves, Reds in 5.
Reds vs. Giants: If the Giants meet the Reds, the Giants would be the home team. That would give them a slight uni edge — enough to tip the scales. *IF the Reds play the Giants, Giants in 4.
Reds vs. Padres, Braves vs. Padres or Phillies vs. Padres: The Padres lose the uni battle. I’ll give them one game each versus the Reds or Braves, but break out the brooms if they play Philly. *IF the Padres play the Reds, Reds in 4…*IF the Padres play the Braves, Braves in 4…*IF the Padres play the Phillies, Phillies in 3.
Well, there you have it. Sorta. The very unscientific way to pick the winners of the respective Divisional Series. If it comes down to a pre-NLDS play-in game or set of play-in games, the Padres would host the Giants, but I’d still give the edge to the Giants (plus, I don’t think the Padres could win 4 straight against San Fran, which is the only way that scenario occurs). If either team has to play Atlanta, I give the one-game edge to the Braves, because they’ll be in their home unis (Braves hold a better head-to-head against both teams).
Congratulations, if you made it this far, you’re a trooper. But hey, it’s not a bad way to end the MLB season.
This sure seemed like a good idea on Wednesday.
Trackin’ the Ducks
UW #1 Seahawks Fan Michael Princip has been tracking the Oregon Ducks and all of their 2,456 possible uniform combinations this season. He’ll be updating it after each game.
The Ducks matched up with Stanford yesterday in Autzen. Unfortunately, ESPN in my area carried the PSU/Iowa game so I missed the Ducks in their all-greens. As much as I don’t like the monochrome look in football, the Ducks always seem to be able to pull it off better than most. Here’s Mike with some more new updates to the tracker:
Fantastic win for the Ducks last night, and they looked fantastic in their matte greens (jersey/pants), yellow, and metallic green helmets. Representing the school colors to the hilt. Noted, at the bottom of the spec. sheet, is a shot detailing Oregon’s propensity to camouflage surnames at the back of the jerseys, example white jersey worn against ASU.
For this week’s equipment spec. sheet, I focused on an important piece of equipment, not so noticeable under all of those uniform combinations, and that is the shoulder pads & lower back pads. I feel they get about the same amount of attention when it comes to aesthetic design as car engines do, not a lot. More emphasis on the utilitarian, and less on the aesthetics, however, there has been some nice designs and technical innovation that I wanted to focus on, most notably the shock absorbing impact micro beads.
Here then, is your 2010 Duck Tracker
5 & 1
Well, well, well. We found agreement on many of the non-BCS unis in yesterday’s grading, so will I agree or disagree with Jim Vilk in this week’s 5 & 1? There were a bunch of great uniform matchups yesterday, so our man in the street had lots to choose from. A few big rivalry games headed yesterday’s slate, as well as some great intra-conference pairings.
So…how’d he do this week:
4. Temple/Army: If Temple was the home team, this game would be ranked higher.
3. Tennessee/LSU: As Les Miles said after the game, “Just another day in the SEC.”
2. Washington State/UCLA: Not crazy about Wazzu’s logo, but everything else looks great.
1. Texas/Oklahoma: For some reason, Texas pulls off the all-white look better than anyone.
And my worst pick — Ball State/Central Michigan: That Cardinal logo looks worse than Louisville’s…and that’s saying a lot.
OK, Jimmy…thanks for the reviews. I’m kinda shocked you didn’t pick USAFA vs. USNA for number 1, especially since I thought you hated all white unis in the sunshine. Guess I was wrong about you.
See ya next weekend with more 5 & 1.
Still have a backlog of uni tweaks, so let get right into it. If you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way. OK? OK! Here’s what’s on tap for today.
Those who’ve already sent in tweaks, they’re fine the way they are, but in the future, because many of you seem to enjoy elaborate write ups, can you possibly try to keep them to 50 words tops per team? (Every one I’ve received since I asked for the ~50 limit has complied so far!) Thanks!
Starting off the show is Matthew Ripley, and believe it or not, he has a Washington concept:
I am huge Eagles fan and actually love when they pull out the old yellow and blue throwbacks. It really represents the city (ie the colors of the city flag) unlike almost every other team does. So, I started wondering what other teams would look like if they actually tried to represent in their uniforms, the city they claim to represent. I started with division rival the Washington Redskins. The DC flag is pretty sweet (I grew up there), and has a neat red and white star motif (but no blue, so it’s not cliche). I decided to play up the three stars and three stripes. Here is what I came up with. I know, it does kinda look like an All-Star jersey, but it has a much more classic feel to it, plus I want to see the reaction of ‘Skins fans to what I did to their helmet logo… I am working on ones for the Giants (BIG changes) and the Cowboys (not as major changes), and will send them in when I am done.
Next up is Nick Henneger, who has gone BFBS with the Badgers:
I have done a black alternate uniform for the University of Wisconsin football team. Camp Randall gets rocking every Saturday but I can’t imagine how crazy a black out would be. As you can see I left a little red on the sleeve and did a split color design on the side of the pants. I also did a subtle change to the helmet by making the face mask and stripes black. Hopefully you like it.
Our last tweak comes from Will Hogg, who has a design concept for Tulane. I think Jim Vilk approves:
After watching the Tulane-Ole Miss game the other day, I was inspired to give Tulane an Ole Miss-inspired fusion. I’m quite pleased with the results. Gave the Green Waves the white helmets, because they look amazing. Upgraded the jersey and pants with some much-needed stripes, and substituted the “T Wave” logo with their more traditional “T-U Shield” logo. Also gave them a neat pelican decal for their helmet bumper. I think it’s a winner. Thanks and enjoy!
Great job today fellas. Back next time with more.
OK everyone, that’s going to do it for this fine Sunday. Even if you’re not a fan of the teams involved in the MLB playoff battle, you have to admit today’s a hell of a way to (maybe) end the season. We may have Monday baseball after all is said and done.
Good slate of NFL games today, and I’m pretty certain the Falcons and Bills are both slated to wear their throwbacks. Plus, it’s Breast Cancer awareness month, so expect to see lots of pink.
And if baseball and football aren’t your thing, well, there’s always the conclusion of the Ryder Cup.
Have a great day everyone.
Everyone knows that Tampa Bay has always been associated with plaid. Perhaps we can poll all 10 of their fans to see how they would react to using Miami’s colors in their uniform scheme. — Skycat