The View From the Bench

Paul Salomon

Right around 8 p.m. Friday night, somewhere in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, the Molina family sat down to watch the MLB playoffs with great excitement. You can’t much blame them. Three of Bayamon’s native sons are playing October ball. They are the Super Molina Bros.
What’s more, they’re all catchers. Bengie and Jos catch for the newly renamed Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Yadier for the St. Louis Cardinals. With both teams in their respective league championships, it’s no wonder mom and pop Molina might be a bit anxious about the coming weeks.
They should be pleased with the brothers’ performances in their divisional series play. Yadi had 3 RBI in as many games, and Jos had 3 RBI in his only at bat. Bengie was perhaps the MVP of his series. He caught two runners stealing while hitting .444 with 3 HR. Not bad, given that on the night of this writing he threw out two more runners in the opening game of the ALCS.
On Tuesday night, the Angels beat the Chicago White Sox to take the early 1-0 lead in the ALCS. If Bengie’s defense and hitting can keep up, the Angels will be looking for another shot at the World Series Trophy they won in 2003.
On the other side of baseball, the NLCS began on Wednesday. It’s a rematch of last year’s Astros-Cardinals series that ended in 7 games with the Cardinals on top. They say the catcher is the quarterback of baseball. If that’s true, the Cardinals will look for Yadi’s gold glove defense to lead them to the World Series for the second straight year. That having been said let me make my LCS predictions.
The Cardinals have home-field advantage again this year, and play in what is arguably the best baseball town in America, and where they are 8-2 in their last 10 playoff games. With an 11-5 regular season record versus the Astros, look for a fully rested Cardinals pitching staff headed by Cy Young candidate Chris Carpenter to hold games close, while their heavy bats and MVP candidate Albert Pujols power through close victories – Cardinals in 7.
In the American League, the White Sox do have the best record, but the Angels have been the hottest team down the stretch. They just beat the New York Yankees to get where they are, and have a bullpen full of gamers. With a 1-0 start, look for the Angels, carried on the bats of Garret Anderson, Vlad Guerrero, and Bengie Molina, to power past 2005’s best ERA staff in the AL – Angels in 6.
If things play out in the way I think they might, the Molina family may have more excitement than they can handle. There may be family on both sides of the battle for World Champion. I guess that’s good news for the Molinas – at least some of them.