Those who think the Oakland Athletics will roll to another four-game World Series sweep - and judging by the odds, that ap Commentarypears to be nearly everyone in Western Civilization - could be surprised.
The Cincinnati Reds match up well with the A's and, more important, they don't beat themselves. The Reds had the best defense in the National League and made just two errors in the playoffs. They also have the deepest bullpen.Oakland's Dennis Eckersley may be the best reliever in baseball, but even the A's can't match Norm Charlton, Rob Dibble and Randy Myers for bullpen depth.
The Reds won't slug with the A's, but then again, the A's didn't hit even one homer in the American League Championship Series.
Cincinnati has two hard-throwing right-handed starters, Jose Rijo and Jack Armstrong, who could give the A's trouble. Armstrong appears recovered from injury problems.
The Reds have a deeper bench than the A's, which will come into play more in Cincinnati, where designated hitters won't be used, meaning more pinch-hitters.
However, the A's may have the two best bench players if Willie McGee and Harold Baines are non-starters at Riverfront Stadium.
Oakland has one player who could dominate the Series. Rickey Henderson was strangely quiet in the playoffs and that isn't likely to continue.
But the feeling here is that the Reds will win at least two and perhaps even force a seventh game.