Ah, October is here.

If you are a sports fan, Christmas has come early. The NFL season is in its infancy and the Major League Baseball Playoffs have just begun the long march to the World Series. For your reading pleasure, the Mustang Daily has decided to give you a playoff preview of the upcoming American and National league championship series and the World Series – with a twist.

Teams in those series have already been predicted. Read on, and enjoy.

ALCS: Oakland A’s (93-69) vs. New York Yankees (97-65)

The baseball incarnation of Star Wars – will the empire strike back and head to the Fall Classic? Or will Oakland general manager Billy Beane and his council of underpaid Jedi finally get the best of the Emperor’s.eh, Steinbrenner’s Yanks?

You know the A’s want this match up, especially after the heartbreak of being eliminated by the Yankees in 2000 and 2001. The Yanks come in with the highest payroll in baseball at more than $198 million while the A’s continue to thrive with a paltry $63 million.

The two are a study in contrast – the Yanks spend like Larry Flint, the A’s like Larry the Cable Guy. New York has a cast of mature veterans; the A’s have players that frequent the same bars that I do.

The A’s have the edge in pitching this year, but the Yankees still have Mariano Rivera (34 saves, 0.81 ERA in postseason) to shut it down in the ninth.

How the Yankees do will depend on how much they can get out of Randy Johnson, if he pitches at all. The A’s are hungry, but the Yankees are too, having not won a World Series in six years (must be nice).

It will come down to who will make more clutch hits and any team with Derek Jeter on it will have the edge in that department. Nonetheless, it will be an entertaining series. Expect some bizarre plays and standard late-inning heroics. Don’t be surprised if Jose Canseco tries to make a start or two in left field. When it’s all said and done the Yankees squeak by in a seven-game thriller that everyone will remember. Yankees win, 4-3.

NLCS: New York Mets (97-65) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (83-78)

The Cards struggled down the stretch and looked more like a team that didn’t want to get beat in the World Series again. The Mets have cruised as of late, but are still the most talented team in the National League on paper.

The Mets have used a perfect mix of veterans and youth all year. The Cards are primarily a veteran team, with a couple of guys (namely Jim Edmonds, who is getting old, and Jeff Weaver, who pitches like he’s old) in the twilight of their careers.

Pitching is pretty even – both staffs are solid, although the Mets are going to miss Pedro Martinez. Both lineups have a lot of pop; I would give the Mets the edge because of their speed and ability to put pressure on the Cards. However, don’t be surprised if Albert Pujols has a monster series and puts St. Louis on his oversized back for a couple of games.

Expect Cards manager Tony La Russa to bean a couple of Mets for celebrating home runs if things don’t go his way.

Pujols will be fun to watch, so will La Russa, but it will not be enough to get the Cards past a talented young Mets team. Mets four games, Pujols two. On to the first Subway Series since 2000.

World Series: Yankees vs. Mets

Somebody needs to get the Padres and Astros together (we know neither will be busy); this series could use the whole Piazza/ Clemens shenanigans.

The Yanks will play the team that they last won the Fall Classic against. I just hope the Mets give Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden tickets, they deserve them, and it might keep them out of trouble.

Pitching will matter in this one, but only in later innings (see: Rivera). I’m really hoping these turn in to 12-10 absolute slugfests, which would be great because I have no reason to pay attention to this series. Such is the case when you are a Giants fan.

Defense won’t really matter because of the amount of extra-base hits in the series.

The ERA’s will be bloated on both sides, and it will be the highest scoring World Series in history.

The usual Jeteroics will be in full effect, and expect a good series from Mets third baseman David Wright.

It will be a good World Series, but I’ll take the Bombers. The reason: it’s a win-win for me. I pick the winner, say “I told you so,” and the Yankees don’t win another World Series for six years.

Or, they lose and I can say I picked them to provide the proverbial “media prognostication jinx” (not sure if that exists, but it sounds good). I’ll take the Yankees in six games, 4-2, with A-Rod winning MVP honors. Because when you make $25 million a year, you deserve a little extra something.

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