Predicting postseason winners: You never know with this game

The Cardinals spoiled the party for the Nationals in the NLDS. (Getty Images)

Picking all of the postseason results, from the two wild-card games through to the World Series, was a lot of fun for me. I didn’t come close to picking pennant winners in either league, but I did learn something about the game in the process. And I’m happy to share that with anyone who comes by this space as well.

I started off the selection process by picking the Cardinals and Orioles to win the wild card games. It must have been a birds thing or something. And it felt a bit like the NCAA tournament, because it was a one-and-done situation. Perhaps that’s what MLB was trying to create with this format.

And the first full round of the playoffs — where each series went to the five-game limit — was also exciting, and full of potential for me as well. I picked the first three series winners in that round (the Giants, Tigers, and Yankees) and was on the verge of going 6-0 through the first two rounds if the Nationals could put the Cardinals away. But some inner voice told me this wasn’t going to happen.

Adam Wainwright took the hill in game five for the Cardinals, and he got pounded early on. As someone on Twitter pointed out, “Waino no es bueno.” But it somehow felt wrong to me. Nobody in baseball ever has a long run of success without at least a few blemishes. And I knew that I wasn’t going to be any different.

I took to my Facebook account, as the Nationals were enjoying a three-run lead early on in game five, and typed in the following status update: “I’m 5 for 5 in picking the playoff winners so far. The great cosmic force will probably even things out by bringing down the Nationals tonight. You can thank me if/when this happens, Cardinals fans.” A couple of my Cardinal-fan friends indicated it didn’t look good early on, but they hoped I was right.

And, over the course of the next few hours, I was proven right. Any hope I had of securing bragging rights for the postseason on this board went out the window, as the Nationals were my pick to go all the way. I liked the idea of them coming from out of nowhere to take home the big trophy. But it was not to be. In fact, my picks didn’t win another series the rest of the way after the Nationals went down.

Anybody who’s ever followed baseball knows this is the way it works. There are highs and lows, and whenever one of those two has the upper hand, the other one always follows along soon enough. Baseball has been described as a crazy game, and my complete reversal of fortune in game five of the Cardinals-Nationals series seems to bear that out. If nearly 40 years of following baseball has taught me anything, it’s that the unexpected is really anything but that.

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