Monday, October 19, 2009

A five-game sweep?

In 2004, the Detroit Pistons whupped the Lakers in the NBA Finals 4-1. The Pistons' four wins were by an average of 13+ points; the Lakers' lone win came after a miracle game-tying shot that forced overtime. Sports journos called it a "five-game sweep" because of the Pistons' dominance.

The NLCS is shaping up to be the same. The Phillies can pound the ball, their starters have pitched 15 consecutive scoreless innings, and even the Phils' bullpen can hold an 11-0 ninth inning lead. The Dudgers won Friday thanks to some poor fielding and surprisingly decent pitching. But the Phils have four or five solid starters, the Dudgers couldn't hit Pedro Martinez (who now throws like a right-handed Jamie Moyer) and the series is out of the California sun until Friday . . . if it goes that long.

The Dudgers are fighting history. Since the advent of divisional play in 1969, the same two teams have met in the NLCS in consecutive years four times. The previous year's winner won twice, the loser gained revenge once, and the Phils are halfway to repeating. The one time since 1995 that the same two teams matched up in consecutive NLDS, the winner repeated (2004-05 Astros over Braves).

In the AL, the prior year's loser has fared worse in the rematches. When the ALCS has been a repeat of the previous year's matchup, the prior winner is 5-1. When the ALDS has been a repeat of the prior year's matchup, the prior winner is 4-2 (and the eight times the Redsax were not involved, the prior winner was 8-0). Total for the two leagues: 12-4 advantage for the prior year's winner, and we're halfway to 13-4.

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