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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Games promise excitement

As the baseball season reaches its twilight, the pieces are starting to fall in place. The excitement of the division races is slowly giving way to reality, and the playoff image is becoming much clearer.\n Forget about the American League. It's set; Seattle, New York, Cleveland and Oakland are in. And while we're at it, forget about Cleveland and Oakland, too. Sure, the A's may win more regular season games than the Yankees, and hey, I'd like to see them win as much as the next guy, but by now we know the Yankees will find a way to beat them in the playoffs. If Cleveland or Oakland is lucky enough to win one playoff series, they certainly will not win a second.\nThe National League is a bit hazier, but we can narrow it down to eight or nine teams.\nHouston will win the central division, and Arizona is looking strong in the west. Atlanta and Philadelphia are still tight in the East, but neither team is really strong enough to make playoff noise. \nIf they can dig themselves out of the hole they are in right now, Los Angeles has a realistic shot of winning a playoff series. They are the only team in the wild card race that has a good enough balance of pitching and hitting.\nSure the Cardinals have a powerful lineup, and sure the Cubs pitching has been solid - but to win a series against the best teams in the league, both areas must be strong.\nThe Dodgers lineup is powerful with Gary Sheffield, Shawn Green and Eric Karros in the middle, but they also get people on base with solid hitting from Marquis Grissom, Mark Grudzielanek, and the extremely underrated Paul Lo Duca, who is hitting .325 (and how many catchers hit lead-off?).\nThey also boast a very solid pitching staff in Kevin Brown, Chan Ho Park and Terry Adams. All three hurlers have double digit wins. Piece that with stopper Jeff Shaw, and the Dodgers can easily compete with Atlanta, Houston and Arizona.\nThat being said, I still like Arizona representing the National League in the World Series. When the playoffs reduce starting rotations to just three men, they can throw Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in two-thirds of their games. The lineup is strong enough and has enough experience to win big games. In the end, this makes them better than any other NL team.\nBoth League Championship series will be exciting. The predicted Yankees/ Mariners bout is an unusual case of the underdog being a far better team than the favorite - and the Yankees are the favorite. \nThe fact that the Bronx Bombers have won four World Series in five years is enough to make even the mighty Mariners shiver. Fans will be split down the middle in rooting for these two teams. New Yorkers will pull for their dynasty, not to mention the fact they want to win in honor of their devastated city. Virtually the rest of the nation will pull for Seattle, in the hope that Yankees' dominance will finally be overcome. I believe this series will go the full seven games, but even I cannot guess who will come out on top.\nThe National League is balanced enough that any combination of playoff teams will make for a strong series. Every team in the race has a superstar name and exciting chemistry. Only Philadelphia can say they are full of no-names, and that fact may pull in fans who want to see the underdogs win.\nWe can only hope that baseball's post season lives up to the excitement we have seen so far. If it does, it will be remembered for a long, long time.

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