Playoff pondering

WARNING: These picks are strictly for entertainment purposes only! If you're dumb enough to think you're making money off this ...

So without further ado ...

AL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: DETROIT VS. OAKLAND: Both teams got here by waxing division winner Minnesota and New York -- and for all intents and purposes, that is the last time I will mention the Yankees and the soap opera that surrounds them for this post, thank you.

In winning that series from ... you know ... the Tigers relied mainly on "small ball." Their top four hitters -- Carlos Guillen, Placido Polanco, Sean Casey and Marcus Thames -- combined for 26 hits, but just one homer. Detroit rebounded from its late-season swoon by batting .309 in the ALDS.

Anyone who saw the series with ... you know ... with pitching. Take away Nate Robertson's poor outing, and Detroit allowed seven runs and 21 hits in 29 1/3 innings. And that was against one of the most potent lineups in baseball.

Oakland's sweep of the Twins was all about timeliness -- Frank Thomas' two homers in Game 1, for example. The A's batted just .245 in the series, and Marcos Scutaro -- yes, Marcos Scutaro -- led Oakland with six RBIs. If anything, Oakland again proved good pitching beats good hitting: the staff combined for a 2.33 ERA.

Detroit has the destiny factor on their side, and Leyland will keep them in check. He was the contstant when they were 40 games over .500 or in a tailspin that dropped them out of first in the AL Central. Tigers in five

NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: ST. LOUIS VS. NEW YORK METS: OK ... this is the matchup many were expecting earlier this season. How they both got here was surprising.

Neither team has particularly strong starting pitching. The Mets easily advanced without the injured Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez by sweeping the Dodgers. St, Louis, without No. 2 starter Mark Mulder and closer Jason Isringhausen, needed four games to oust San Diego.

This series, in all likelihood, will come down to who's got the better offense. If the Mets also can keep Albert Pujols in check, they're headed back to the World Series for the first time since 2000 -- and have a chance to win it all for the first time since big hair and skinny ties were in vogue. Mets in five

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