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Legends On Deck

Breaking Down the American League Championship Series

When George Constanza was meeting with the front office of the Astros, Houston was a National League city.  Who would have ever seen the Yankees and Astros meeting in the ALCS?  Friday evening, Game 1 of this best of seven series begins.  If your team is out already, but you want to find some rooting interest — and you just can’t get enough postseason baseball, this article is for you.

Houston Astros

History:  The city of Houston was awarded a MLB franchise in 1962, the Colt 45s.  The 45s were renamed the Astros in 1965 and would not win an Pennant for another 40 years.  Their first Hall of Famer was Craig Biggio (enshrined in 2015); not counting Nolan Ryan who wears a Rangers cap on his HOF plaque and played for four teams.  The 2005 Astros were swept in the World Series by the Chicago White Sox.  

Reasons to root for the Astros:  If you like to see franchises win their first World Series, the Astros would be any easy choice.  The 2017 Astros have been dynamic, led by the likely AL MVP Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer,

the Astros led the league in nearly every batting statistic (2nd to Yankees in HRs) during the regular season.  This postseason, the Astros story has been much of the same, including Altuve’s three homer performance in ALDS Game 1.  Throw in the starting pitching duo of Verlander and Keuchel, the team looks hard to beat. Not to mention, if you are a Detroit Tigers fan, you might want to see your longtime Ace, Justin Verlander, finally get his ring.   The city of Houston has been devastated by Hurricane Harvey and as the people of the fourth largest city in America rebuilds, a World Series title would surely be good for the city’s morale.

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New York Yankees

History:  It’s no secret, many people despise the Yankees, because they win.  With 27 World Series victories and 40 AL Pennants, the Bronx Bombers are the most successful franchise in the history of professional sports.  Their last World Series title was in 2009, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games.

Reasons to root for the Yankees:  Despite being the Yankees, this 2017 team arrives in the ALCS as the underdog.  This Yankees team was built for future glory, but an unexpectedly good season highlighted by rookie slugger Aaron Judge and Catcher Gary Sanchez and some key midseason trades to shore up the bullpen (David Robertson), rotation (Sonny Grey) and lineup (Todd Fraizer) bolstered their postseason prospects.  Their bullpen has been particularly strong and clutch hitting by Didi Gregorius has been a major factor in the playoffs.  Powering past the Twins in the Wild Card game and unseating the 2016 AL Champion Indians down 2-0 in the ALDS, makes this Yankees team exciting to watch and dangerous for any opponent to face. Like it or not, a Yankees World Series appearance would be good for ratings.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1    Dallas Keuchel vs Masahiro Tanaka

Game 2    Justin Verlander vs Luis Severino

Game 3   TBD vs CC Sabathia

Game 4   TBD vs Sonny Gray

Who’s going to win?  Reality is, both teams are coming in hot.  The Yankees perhaps have a slight edge on momentum, as they are coming off three consecutive wins against Cleveland.  They have been producing runs, despite little help from Sanchez and Judge.  If those two find their swing, watch out.  Starters Luis Severino and veteran CC Sabathia have looked good too.  Meanwhile, the Astros have been particularly good all season long, so their advantage is consistency.  It could be enough to push past the surging Yankees.  If Keuchel and Verlander throw two strong outings to get them out to an early series lead, their explosive lineup could help carry them the rest of the way.  

It is difficult to make predictions in postseason baseball.  Games can turn on a dime and momentum can often propel surprise performances by little known players as well as disappoints from the biggest stars.  It’s baseball at it’s very best.  

Grand Slam New York

Brian Koss

Brian Koss

Brian grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, MI where he spent his childhood playing organized baseball, pick-up games, collecting baseball cards, listening to his grandfather's stories about the 1930s Pittsburgh Pirates, drafting fantasy baseball teams and attending Tigers games. His dad, who coached his teams, weaved family trips around ballpark visits. A diehard Detroit Tigers (and Lions) fan, Brian and his wife (a Real Estate team) are raising their two children near Orlando. Brian helps coach his daughter's tee-ball team, working to pass along his love of the game.
Brian Koss