Rob Iracane: October 2008 Archives

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Walkoff Walk commenter and gadabout Honeynut Ichiros is on the scene in Philadelphia today for the big Phillies victory parade and graciously offered to liveglog it for us. Of course, his shitty Blackberry spewed out every single update in one fell swoop to my email box, so it's less of a liveglog and more of a data dump. Enjoy!

12:26: Through much squeezing and pushing, I have now worked my way to the front of the crowd. The air is thick with joy and PBR. Teens are passing brown-bagged spirits around like homeless at a bonfire. And it's unsasonably warm, like the snow that fell in Princeton on Tuesday never happened.
1232: The twenty year olds behind me are seeing who can pound their beers the fastest. The current chant is "loser blows the winner." No girls are involved.
1240: Woooo! The parade is coming! Screeeeeeaaaaaaaam!
1245: the first cars came by to raucous applause. Just some tow trucks. Hope nobodys parked in a loading zone.
1246: Anything that moves gets a yell from the crowd. A Snack truck for the cops passed by, handing out sodas for the boys in blue, and its as if Hamels himself is driving.
1250: 50 cops on bikes just rolled by. Parking enforcement?
1251: A ghetto bird flys overheaf. Today WAS a good day.
1256: Woooo. First bus is passing us. Who's on it?. Oh, some old guys who work for WYSP. That makes sense.
1257: A passing reporter just got a show your tits chant. Didn't work. I think she was tempted, though.
1259 ITS Pat the Bat! On an old horse-drawn fire truck! ANd he brought his bulldog. Oooooh and awwwww.
101- a float with a bunch of Phillies ballgirls comes by. More show your tits. Nope, these gals are on the clock.
102 mayor michael nutter and the trophy come past. Some short girl just envied my stature (I'm 6'4"). Practice practice practice.
102: Greg Dobbs and Jaime Moyer! The stars are out tonight!
103 - Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are on the same float! Tastycakes and Subway, envision the synergy!
105- Holy shit! Jayson Werth was drinking an original Coors. Fuckin a. Almost makes up for the skidmark on your chinny chin chin.
107: J Roll is a bit subdued, dude. I expect more out of the sparkplug.
108 aaaaaand that's all she wrote. Ten minutes of bliss, I suppose. How rad. I never saw Cole Hamels or Victorino, tho. There were only 3 floats with players on them. He must have been on the other side. All I got was crummy old Geoff Jenkins.
125 working my way thru the crowd, walking against traffic on Broad St. Just got my 10th whiff of weed. If this city is gonna burn, it gonna smell sticky sweet.

Thanks, Honeynut! (picture stolen from Philly.com)

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Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • A.J. Burnett Hates the Yankees: Do you blame him? He's exactly the kind of signing fans in the Bronx would love...for about 20 seconds. A pitcher in the decline signing for a huge wad of cash? Thanks, but we've already had our fill of Kevin Brown, Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano, Roger Clemens II, David Wells, and Randy Johnson.

  • Manny, Many Other Folks Filed Free Agency: Yesterday was the first chance for free agents to file, and their prior teams have a two-week window to negotiate with them before they're sent out into the wild. The Dodgers will most likely lose Derek Lowe and Manny Ramirez, but they'll need to keep Joe Beimel or Troy will go apeshit.

  • Marlins, Royals Consummate First Trade, No One Notices: Well, almost no one. Florida first-bagger Mike Jacobs will knock Billy Butler to DH in Kansas City, while Marlins pick up someone who allegedly has pitched in the majors for a few years. News to me!

  • Nationals Cut Closer Chad Cordero: Another former Expo leaves the Washington roster. If memory serves me right, Nick Johnson is the only player left on the team who played for Montreal back in 2004. Cordero had labrum surgery this past year but is one of the most accomplished closers in franchise history. Translation: he'll be a failed Met reliever next year.

  • Should Jake Peavy Stay Or Should He Go?: Sorry, Braves fans. Seems like the Padres want too much in return for the stud pitcher, and the stud pitcher is being too wishy-washy about which teams he wants to play for. If I were Jake, I wouldn't want to leave San Diego either. The fish tacos are supreme.

Players of note who were cut by their teams: Ken Griffey Jr., Toby Hall, and Edgar Renteria. Get 'em while they're hot!

linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • D-mac's animated GIF proves that Shane Victorino is a flying squirrel. Philadelphia Will Do.

  • D-mac also has video of the bash on Broad Street last night. Philadelphia Will Do.

  • Matthew Cerrone extends a hearty congrats to the Phillies organization and then throws the fanbase under the bus. Metsblog sponsored by GEICO.

  • David Pinto shares his thoughts about why the Phillies won. Baseball Musings.

  • One more D-Mac link, I swear this is the last one. Charlie Manuel wears a jaunty hat. Philadelphia Will Do

  • Our other Philly pal Matt P. shares another photo montage. The 700 Level.

  • Rinku and Dinesh are celebrating too. Not the Phillies win, mind you. It's Diwali! The Million Dollar Arm Blog.

  • Phillies fans and haters alike can celebrate with stuff dipped in BACONNAISE. Serious Eats.

Don't fret, the Linkpunch isn't going anywhere this offseason. If you have something you'd like us to punch up, just send us an email at tips@walkoffwalk.com and we'll use 'em.

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Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent probably doesn't care much for politics. He's usually too busy talking trash about Vin Scully or tooling around on his hog to get involved in the political process, and who can blame him? He's a professional baseball player, not a consarned community activist!

But with the threat of same-sex marriage on the horizon in California, Kent is putting his money where his foul mouth is, donating $15,000 to support Proposition 8, which would impose a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. Because if we let the gays get married, what's next, letting a man marry a dog? Amirite? Amirite?

Seriously, folks, we don't hide our political affiliations here at Walkoff Walk. If you've read us for even just one month, you know where CTC and I stand on most issues. We try to not preach to our readers about politics, or music taste, or cinema, or television or anything. We're a baseball blog. Yes, we may suggest certain things with our words, pictures, and videos, but we don't want to offend our readership by telling you what to do...until now.

We are firmly against Proposition 8 and, were we Californians, we would vote no on this heinous matter. Were we Californians, we'd also probably share a bungalow in Santa Rosa and spend our weekends at the wineries and restaurants in Napa and Sonoma, but that's a matter for a different day. We disagree with Mr. Kent's stand and wish he had spent that $15,000 on something more worthwhile, like a 17-day European cruise with our own Todd Jones. Folks, regardless of if you agree with us, get out there and vote on Tuesday.

(We owe some Frescas to BBTF Newsblog)

Here's footage of legendary Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas calling the final out of the World Series last night, as his partner Chris Wheeler fights off invisible vampire bats.

(Thanks, D-mac)

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Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

  • What was with all that wacky bunting last night? Jimmy Rollins made no bones about his sixth inning bunt that moved Jayson Werth to third. In his postgame interview, he basically said there was no way he would have swung away in that situation. Sure, the Phils scored the run, but what if Rollins had gotten an actual base hit? Isn't the chance of a big inning that much more important in the sixth, as opposed to the eighth? I'm not going to second guess Joe Maddon on the J.P. Howell bunt, because that's just cruel.

  • Did the voters get it right with the MVP award? Sure. Cole Hamels earned that thing for two stunningly great appearances in the World Series, but also earned some votes because of his entire playoff run. Kid nearly won two games, and no single position player added as much value as Hamels over the course of the World Series. Hopefully, he can take this sucker to the bank.

  • How huge was the Utley play? Utley made a web gem and Carlos Ruiz made a great tag, but that was really a baserunning gaffe by Jason Bartlett. I'm not even sure if Bartlett saw Utley pump-fake to first base, but it was a mistake for him to head home on that play.

  • What's next for the Phillies? Well, there's a parade on the horizon, but most importantly, there's a pinata that needs to be busted wide open.

  • What will become of Walkoff Walk in the offseason? It may be a long while before meaningful baseball games are played again, but baseball coverage at Walkoff Walk will not take a backseat for a second. We'll continue to write original material for you, cover free agent signings and trades, and maybe even throw some recipes your way. Morning Answers is done for now but tune in tomorrow for your first Hot Stove Update.
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Here's what happened in Philadelphia while you were snuggled in bed with your pajama pants and teddy bear:

  • A Phillies fan robbed a bank in a quest to get some cold hard cash to pay for Phillies playoff gear at a Modells store. No telling whether he posed with a Red Sox hat and a Youuuuuuk sign before he left.

  • A drunk driver slammed into a police cruiser in Center City, sending two police officers to the hospital with neck and back ouchies. What's up, Officer Creampuffs?

  • The fire department extinguished a dumpster fire outside a Starbucks. Mistakenly, of course, because the Phillies fans were just roasting some Italian beans for the morning commute.

  • According to Phillyburbs.com, "Windows were smashed at a bank and luggage store in the downtown shopping district. At least two cars were overturned, the windows of a TV van were smashed, dozens of huge streetside planters were flipped over and some bus shelters were damaged or destroyed," but police still have no total number of arrests made. Here's a hint: you'll need three digits.

  • And if you parked your car on Broad Street last night, you got what you deserved:

I'll call my sister later this morning to see how the Art Museum neighborhood held up last night.

Picture stolen from my boss, A.J. Daulerio of Deadspin

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So that's how you live like this, Phillies fans. Thanks, Doug Pensinger of Getty Images.

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Welcome back, folks! It's the bottom of the sixth, Grant Balfour is on the mound, Charlie Manuel is deciding on a pinch hitter, and Overmanagin' Joe Maddon has scripted his plans for the remainder of the game as if there were some Euripidean tragedy (hint: it's not Euripidean, it's got more Sophoclean irony than anything).

Consider yourself lucky if you're reading this glog and watching the game because most folks just don't care. That's their problem, though, because this World Series has been fun and competitive, despite the weather delays and low ratings. Low ratings? Who cares! Not my money!

If you missed Monday night's action and need to catch up, take a peek at this epic liveglog with some of the best comments we've ever received. Enough chit-chat! Let's get to it, gloggers!

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, time's tide will smother you

  • WHO will be the first hitter in the bottom of the sixth? I'm guessing Matt Stairs, but it could just as well be Greg Dobbs.

  • WHICH bullpen will be more dominant tonight? The Rays have lefties David Price, Trever Miller, and J.P. Howell at the ready to neutralize Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. The Phillies will probably use Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge for nine outs.

  • HOW MANY players will wear those silly hats with the earflaps tonight? Comfort is one thing, but you look ridiculous, Jimmy Rollins.

  • ARE the Rays cursed because Rocco Baldelli is on the cover of S.I.? Actually, there's Carlos Ruiz, so maybe the whole darn World Series is cursed. Read Tom Verducci's piece.

  • IS your liveglog blazer wrinkled? Feel free to wear your casual liveglog polo shirt tonight.

Be here at 8:30PM EDT sharp. Be ready for history, one way or another.

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Gaslamp Ball digs up a baseball card of a certain participant in tonight's World Series Game Five. I've taken the liberty of cropping the picture and posting it to your left. Who is it?

No, it's not Matthew Modine. Name him, then head over to Gaslamp Ball to see if your guess is correct.

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I hope you haven't taken off your liveglog blazer since Monday night, because World Series Game Five will continue tonight at 8:37PM. Join us as soon as Senator Obama finishes up his variety half-hour for some more good ol' fashioned livegloggery.

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Sorry, WoWies. Looks like there won't be any minor league teams named after cave shrimp this year. If you recall, the folks in charge of bringing professional baseball to Bowling Green, Kentuckah put a few possible mascot names up for a vote on the ol' Innernet.

Well, the good people of Bowling Green have spoken, and the new name of the Tampa Bay Rays low-A affiliate is the Hot Rods. I blame massive voter fraud and suppression. Also, I blame any Walkoff Walk reader who didn't vote at least eleventy skillion times.

Hey, let's get a quote from the big boss:

"This is an historic day for Bowling Green professional baseball, as we come together to celebrate the beginning of the Bowling Green Hot Rods," said Hot Rods General Manager/CEO Brad Taylor. "We are very excited to develop the Hot Rods brand, which connects the spirit and heritage of this region's automotive industry with a creative name and logo associated with the fun of minor league baseball.

I want you dead, Brad Taylor. Your corporate-speak sickens me.

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Crusty old maverick and reformer John McCain said something very maverick-y. I know! What are the chances? While campaigning in Hershey, PA on his last gasp "The Only True America Tour" across the Keystone State, he sassed his opponent Barack Obama with the line, "No one will delay the World Series with an infomercial when I'm president!"

Obama, of course, has purchased thirty minutes of tee-vee time tonight at 8PM, delaying the 'restart' of World Series Game Five on FOX. That's the kind of thing presidential candidates can do when they raise $150 million in a single month: delay the start of a baseball game by fifteen measly minutes. Meanwhile, the McCain campaign has announced plans to for Cindy McCain to appear on the Quacker Factory with Jeanne Bice on QVC tomorrow night at 2:30AM.

But really, Senator McCain, what part of the U.S. Constitution allows the executive branch of the government to tell the broadcast networks or the assorted major sports leagues what time they need to start their games? And after all, you're just a hypocrite anyway:

In fact, McCain's own convention speech this summer forced a change in the start time of the NFL's season opener, which started an hour and a half earlier to accommodate McCain's speech.

If anything, that speaks to the flexibility of the NFL in comparison to baseball. It also speaks to the desperation of a Presidential candidate who is pandering to fans who are frustrated by 48-hour-long weather delays and not a fifteen-minute Obama delay.

In September 1964, Kansas City teenager Drew Dimmel brought his Super 8 camera to a Beatles concert. He persuaded a local reporter to sneak the camera up to the stage and capture a couple minutes of silent footage. Forty-four years later, Dimmel found the recording stowed away in a desk drawer at his parents' house. He's now putting it up for auction: the film is expected to land $10,000 at a British auction house.


So what does this have to do with baseball? The concert was hosted by Charlie Finley at the home park of the Kansas City A's.

The gig at the Municipal Stadium in Kansas was controversial because of the unpopularity of Charles Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics Baseball Team.

The local press urged a boycott of the concert in protest against Finley and as a result the stadium was almost half empty.

The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein had managed to negotiate a fee of $150,000 for the gig, which helped leave Finley out of pocket.

Dear Kansas City residents in 1964 who actually changed their minds about attending a 30-minute Beatles concert because they listened to the local press: you're all dummies. I hate you.

(We owe 17 cases of Coke Zero to BBTF Newsblog)

linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Rinku and Dinesh film some drills for the upcoming Tom Emanski defensive drills DVD. "Are we pitchers or Bollywood stars?" asks Dinesh. "Neither," replies Rob. The Million Dollar Arm Blog.

  • With the Hot Stove season just around the corner, Marc Hulet grades the off-season trades from last winter. Biggest losers? The Mariners. Baseball Analysts.

  • Matt P wonders which Phillies player threw Bud Selig under the bus. Not literally, that would have been both messy and delightful. The 700 Level.

  • Tom Krasovic wonders if Jake Peavy can hold out for some Sabathia-type money before agreeing to be traded from the Padres. Who would ever want to leave San Diego anyway? San Diego Union Tribune.

  • Lloyd passes up his chance to talk to Ernie Whitt at his local brunch place. That reminds me of the time I almost talked to Rance Mulliniks at a bodega until I realized it was actually just an ATM. Ghostrunner on First.

  • Juicy butts. Suicide Food.
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A caller to the Ron & Fez radio show on Sirius/XM says that WIP Sports Radio in Philly is reporting that MLB is going to postpone the final three-and-a-half innings of Game Five of the World Series to Wednesday night. Take that fourth-hand news with a grain of salt, people.

UPDATE: Tampabay.com is reporting it now and they're a reputable news source, so let's go ahead and call this an official postponement.

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Seattle's nudie bar king Roger Forbes is finally ready to tackle his greatest obstacle in spreading strip clubs across the Emerald City: he wants to open up a titty bar next door to the Seattle Mariners home ballpark. Forbes wants to open a Déjà Vu strip club just 400 feet from Safeco Field and the Mariners are not happy.

The team has filed a formal objection with the city, citing that lots of kiddies go to Mariners games and they shouldn't be 'exposed' to such a naughty business so close to a family gathering place.

But Seattle attorney Peter Buck, who is representing the business, said the restriction applies only to a "public" open space or park.

Safeco is a private facility where people pay to get in, Buck said.

"We are familiar with the Mariners' objection, but consider it a question of taste rather than a legal position," Buck said.

Buck then pulled out a mandolin and serenaded the news reporter with an impromptu acoustic version of "Near Wild Heaven".

Really though, I think the Mariners biggest fear is that they'll never be able to drag Ichiro out of the club.

(We owe a Sprite Zero to BBTF Newsblog)

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Oh, Bud Selig, you were never as good as Willard Scott at predicting weather patterns. Last night's downpour created a deluge of water on the field and a debacle in the hearts and minds of angry fans everywhere. Folks are not taking Milli Vanilli's advice and are instead pointing a crooked finger at Herr Selig!

Once the Philadelphia faithful are done gnashing their teeth and rending their garments, I hope they can dig up their ticket stubs from last night's contest. They'll need 'em tonight. Or tomorrow night. Or Thursday night. Whenever this game resumes, which must, of course, be in primetime or else the FOX network will have Selig's head on a platter.

Here's what Sir Shrugs-a-Lot has to say to the folks:

Game 5 tickets include a rain check stub, and replacement tickets will not be issued. Selig promised to "bend over backwards to be sensitive" to the fans of Philadelphia, lauding them as "tremendous."

"These fans obviously came and bought tickets for a night game, so they deserve to come back and see a night game," Selig said. "Yes, it will be the same starting time, whether it's Tuesday night or Wednesday night or Thursday night or whenever. But, yes, it will be."

Okay, Bud, you can say that bullshit in a press conference, but I'd like to see you say that directly to Phillies fan Michael Hughes' face:

"Major League Baseball is all about [sportscaster] Joe Buck and the ratings - they don't want to see Philadelphia win a championship," said Michael Hughes of Holland, Bucks County, in a comment that seemed to capture the sour and even conspiratorial mood at the rain-drenched ballpark.

Well Mike, I agree with your first point, but your second point is ridiculous, especially with all the wacky umpiring calls that have seemed to go Philadelphia's way in the first 4 and a half games. Still, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Go ahead and criminalize Joe Buck and the ratings. Go ahead and verbally assault Selig. You got my back.

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Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

  • How did we end up with that suspended game because of rain? Blame the television networks. FOX and the other folks who pay baseball for the right to broadcast games have the league grasped firmly around the nuts. If Bud Selig and his people were so sure that Philadelphia was getting torrential downpours last night (and they must have been, because even dolts like me knew it) then they should have moved the start time of the game up a couple hours. No chance, because they don't control what happens in baseball games during the postseason. FOX is in control, and they say when the games start, how long the commercial breaks are between innings, and even what horrible jacket Jeanne Zelasko must wear during the pregame coverage.

  • Which team has the upper hand tonight when Game Five resumes? It's a tie game, but the Phillies have two distinct advantages. One, they know exactly which pitcher they will be facing in the bottom of the sixth, Grant Balfour. Cole Hamels was due up to bat first, but he'll be replaced by a Phillies hitter of Charlie Manuel's choice. The only two Phillies players to collect hits off Balfour are Carlos Ruiz and Jayson Werth, both in the starting lineup, so they're out. Matt Stairs has a .861 career OPS against righties, so he's probably a good choice. Greg Dobbs had 9 tater tots in 217 at-bats against righties, so he's another good choice.

  • How mad would Rays fans have been had they not scored in the sixth? Nobody wants to see a World Series clinching game called after five-and-a-half innings, but maybe that would have been the most fair way to decide it. Sure, the Rays would have lost three more opportunities to tie up the game, but for anyone to question the dominance of the Phillies in the series up until that point of the game would have been wrong. The Rays had been held to just eight thirteen runs in 41 innings up until Carlos Pena's game-tying RBI; that's fewer than two three runs for every nine innings played. To question the authority of a World Championship decided on a game called due to rain would be short-sighted when one team has simply been outplayed.

  • How pissed are folks gonna be when they find out "House" was pre-empted? I don't know, and I don't care.

  • Will you come back promptly at 8PM tonight to continue our glogging? Thanks in advance. We had a great time last night and would welcome new commenters and readers with open arms.
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That picture is from 2006, but seriously, if you have nobody else to blame for a World Series game suspended because of rain, blame Bud Selig.

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Welcome, liveglog club members, to the fifth liveglog of the World Series as presented by Walkoff Walk! Follow along with me tonight as I attempt to make clever witticisms about the baseball game set to start in Philadelphia any minute now. The Tampa Bay Rays are looking to rebound from two straight road losses to the Philadelphia Phillies, who find themselves justthisclose to a friggin' championship. Because tonight has the opportunity for one team to clinch, prepare yourself for the possibility that this is the final liveglog of the 2008 season.

If some elements of this liveglog seem familiar to you, perhaps it's because Game Five's pitching matchup is the same as that of Game One. Therefore and henceforth, I have deemed it necessary to repeat the usage of the following pair of photographs that completely illustrates tonight's starters, Scott Kazmir of the Rays and Cole Hamels of the Phillies:

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Both pitchers didn't go off message very much in Game One; Hamels continued to dominate while Kazmir continued to struggle, giving up too many walks and too many tater tots to be successful. Even worse for Kazmir, he'll need to pitch a shutout tonight to win if his Rays lineup continues to be mired in shittiness. From Fribble King David Pinto at Baseball Musings:

The strength of this lineup lies in their 1-4 hitters, and that quartet has not gotten on base in this series. Combined they collected seven hits and four walks in the first four games in 60 at bats for a .172 OBA.

Yikes! Those stats are enough to make anyone lose their hair. Let's hope for a good, close game that is completely unaffected by poor umpiring calls. Enough prelude, onto the glog...AFTER THE COMPULSORY JUMP

Walkoff Walk friend and erstwhile liveglogger Dmac brings us the best new web gadget in weeks: your chance to drag-and-drop wisps of hair onto your favorite Rays players and managers at Tampa Bay Online. It will let you design a new mohawk and/or playoff beard for Carl Crawford, Aki Iwamura, or Joe Maddon in a similar way that those old magnadoodle things worked. Here's my wildly inappropriate work of art:

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I am ashamed of myself.

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Forget the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, forget the day Chickie and Pete's first added Old Bay seasoning onto crinkle cut fries, and forget the day "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" debuted on FX because yesterday was the single greatest day in Philadelphia's three-hundred year history. Yesterday, the Philadelphia Eagles finally won a game where the other team got screwed by a bad call, the Who continued their long history of selling out and being overrated by playing a packed show at the Wachovia Center, and the Philadelphia Phillies came one game closer to winning the World Series with their tater tot assault over the Tampa Bay Rays.

I was lucky enough to be one of over 100,000 people to enjoy the day's festivities down at the sports and entertainment complex off Interstate 95 because I had tickets to the Eagles game. It was my first trip to Lincoln Financial Field and I came away fully understanding that Eagles fans are the single most passionate group of degenerates in the entire world. When the Eagles defense were flagged on a bogus roughing-the-quarterback call in the first quarter, the crowd joined together as one and expressed their displeasure at the referee's call. For twenty straight minutes. Without pause. It was ridiculous. Every human being in that building was booing; I've been to dozens of games at Giants Stadium but I have never heard a louder collective boo than I heard yesterday.

After the Eagles big win, we headed to our car and saw folks pulling off their Brian Dawkins jerseys and showing off their Shane Victorino t-shirts, whether or not they had tickets to the World Series. The parking lots were jammed with people coming, going, or simply staying to drink some Yuenglings and play some cornhole. It was just that kind of perfect intersection of a football win, an upcoming World Series game, and Philadelphians actually feeling blessed. True, our Eagles seats were directly in front of a loudmouth asshole who criticized every single Eagles play that failed to gain 5 yards, but 99% of folks in the area were as happy as a peach.

As we sat in an hour's worth of traffic in our quest to get back to the highway, we fielded a call from my sister. She and my brother-in-law were ready to pile into the car and head down to the parking lot for the World Series game. We warned her to wait a bit and avoid the gridlock. They made it to the lot, found a parking spot amongst the masses, and were rewarded with a big win.

Unfortunately, if Cole Hamels and the boys pull out another win tonight, Sunday October 26th, 2008 may lose the title of "Greatest Day in Philadelphia's History".

(Picture stolen from the inimitable Big League Stew. Go look at the other pictures, jerk)

Watch everyone's favorite Yankee third baseman gets together with some of his celebrity sports pals and endorses Matt_T's favorite video game, Guitar Hero. Spoofing 1980s movies is just so retro.


(We owe some of that Canadian Coke to Ball Don't Lie)

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Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

  • So did Jimmy Rollins get tagged out or not? Well, yes, Evan Longoria went wrist-deep to tag Rollins in a first inning run-down but third base ump Tim Welke called him safe. This is one of those "why don't have instant replay for every possible situation in baseball" moments, and you may be asking that same question right now. But don't forget, you didn't get to sleep until midnight last night; do you really want these games to go longer and longer? Which is more important to you, accurate baseball calls or your circadian rhythms?

  • Why would anyone ever throw a fastball to Ryan Howard? Granted, when Trever Miller gave up that ding-dong to Howard in the eighth inning, the game was well out of reach. But he threw an 85 MPH fastball right over the center of the plate and Howard attacked it as if it were a plateful of buttermilk pancakes doused in boysenberry syrup. The Phillies collected their fourth homer of the night, Howard's second, and their ninth tater tot of the series.

  • How horrible have Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena been? Four games may be a small sample size, but the two top offensive players on a World Series team just went hitless for four straight games. There's not much baseball left for the pair to make up time; with ace lefty Cole Hamels on the mound tonight seeking the clincher, the duo might prove to be the biggest offensive bust in World Series history.

  • What is Zelasko wearing? She looks like a California Raisin. That's a commenter-submitted question by Honeynut Ichiros from last night's liveglog. Seriously, Jeanne Zelasko's hair, makeup and outfit makes her look like a circus clown on a regular basis. And Eric Karros has a speech impediment. I'm not holding back here, people.

  • Who's making the cakies tonight? It's Game Five, it's Cole Hamels and Scott Kazmir, and it's another Walkoff Walk liveglog, dropping tonight at 8PM.

Taco Time for Ryan and Jason

| | Comments (10)
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Sports business junkie Darren Rovell is all over the MLB/Taco Bell synergistic promotion. And why not? Sports advertising is his bread-and-butter taco shell-and-hot sauce. Today, he reveals to an unknowing blogosphere (read: me) that the player who stole the first base of the World Series had to agree to endorse shitty Taco Bell tacos before the country would win themselves a free taco. Rovell telephoned Jason Bartlett's agent Ryan Ware to get all the relevant details.

Ware told me that before the game the MLB Players Association had called the agents of the players involved in the game, making sure that they were aware of the situation and were willing to be part of the promotion if their player stole the base.

After Bartlett stole the base, Ware, who was sitting next to Bartlett's parents and wife at the game, got on his phone and found out what the deal would be. Part of it, he said, would include Jason saying a couple words about Taco Bell in the locker room after the game. So he sent a text message to Bartlett not to leave the clubhouse before doing this quick voiceover that the company could use in a commercial.

That sounds downright despicable to me. It's as if the Yum! Brands bigwigs, in conjunction with the Major League Baseball corporation, warned players that were they to steal a base in the World Series, they'd have the bittersweet 'privilege' to endorse horrific faux-Mexican food in exchange for a few pesos.

Ware didn't tell Rovell how much his client would be earning for the purloined base but mentioned that Bartlett stood to earn significantly more if he showed up at a Taco Bell 'restaurant' on the day of the promotion. Maybe he can pick a local St. Petersburg franchise and hook up with former Devil Ray Steve Cox, currently operating the churros fryer.

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Greg Dobbs, Charlie Manuel's designated hitter of choice for Game Two, sucked last night. Yes, he got a single in the sixth to move Jimmy Rollins into scoring position but otherwise, he struck out twice, left four runners on base, and was lifted in the eighth for pinch-hitter Eric Bruntlett. Bruntlett proceeded to do something a National League DH had failed to do in the five previous seasons: hit a World Series tater tot.

Not since San Francisco Giants DH Shawon Dunston took Angels pitcher Kevin Appier deep in the fifth inning of Game Six of the 2002 had an NL DH hit a ding-dong in the World Series. Since that point, NL managers have been coming up short figuring out which bench players to pencil in to the DH slot. FOX showed a graphic last night that showed National League DHs were hitting a measly .067 since 2003 with 0 home runs and 1 RBI in World Series games.

Here's a list of the culprits:

  • Jeff Conine, FLA (3 games)
  • Reggie Sanders, STL
  • Marlon Anderson, STL
  • So Taguchi, STL (pinch hitter)
  • Jeff Bagwell, HOU (2 games)
  • Chris Duncan, STL
  • Preston Wilson, STL (pinch hitter)
  • Scott Spiezio, STL
  • Ryan Spilborghs, COL (2 games)

What do all those guys have in common? A slightly above average bat and a slightly below average glove. They've failed to get hits or drive runners in; even future hall-of-famer Jeff Bagwell was limited in his brief appearance. Simply put, the NL teams are at a disadvantage because their roster doesn't normally carry someone who fits the mold of the typical AL DH. Someone who draws walks, hits for power, and doesn't drop off significantly against lefties or righties.

Charlie Manuel's choices for DH include a right-handed hitting backup catcher in Chris Coste and three lefty mashers in Dobbs, Matt Stairs and Geoff Jenkins. All of these guys have performed well in pinch-hitting duties for Manuel but they're a combined 1-for-7 with seven left on base in two games. With the game shifting to an NL park for the next three games, Manuel has one less thing to be second-guessed about by baseball bloggers.

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Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

  • How sloppy was that game last night? Seriously, there were three errors and countless failures at the plate (most of 'em by the Phillies). I can't really point to a single star from the game last night because even winning pitcher James Shields allowed way too many baserunners to be considered anything but lucky. Perhaps the best executed play of the night was the safety squeeze RBI by Jason Bartlett and even that came after a failed suicide squeeze attempt that went foul. Yes, it was a close game but it was not a pretty game.

  • Who should Phillies fans be hanging in effigy this morning? Sorry, Jayson Werth, but your douchey facial hair and extraneous 'Y' in your first name can't save you now. You made your first error of the year in the first inning; that led to a Rays run. You went 1-for-5 at the plate with 2 K's and three men left on base. Sure, you threw out Rocco Baldelli at home to prevent a Rays run, but he returned the favor later and doubled you off first base on a liner.

  • Should Joe Buck and Tim McCarver be shown the door? David Brown posed this question at Big League Stew this morning and I can't help but chime in with my own opinion. I'll make it short, though: Joe Buck relies too much on creating gravitas and Tim McCarver tries too hard to make his color commentary didactic. Buck ends up failing to appreciate the game and shows absolutely zero joy, while McCarver only ends up confusing the viewer because half of the time, he doesn't know what he's talking about. Get rid of 'em.

  • Will they get Game Three in tomorrow night? The weather forecast says no. If Fat Al Roker is right, the game will be postponed to Sunday and Game Four will be postponed to Monday and my sister and her husband will need to find a new babysitter. They've got tix to Game Four.

  • Did you enjoy Tuffy's liveglog? I hope you were lucky enough to be at your computer last night; I wasn't but I caught up on the glog this morning and it was stupendous. Thanks, Tuffy!
linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Patrick Ebert shares his thoughts on new Mariners G.M. Jack Zduriencik. U.S.S. Mariner.

  • Don't get too excited about Jake Peavy yet, Braves fans. Seems as though he might stay in San Diego. Gaslamp Ball.

  • Philadelphia Eagles Safety J.R. Reed Wore a B.J. Upton Jersey On Monday, Got Cut on Tuesday. The headline says it all. Fanhouse.

  • Our own Lloyd the Barber reviews some video game that allows you to play actual baseball. I haven't played video game baseball since 1988 so I have no idea what this is like. Ghostrunner on First.

  • Bob Costas may actually call baseball games again. Savor it! Biz of Baseball.

  • Satire and parody may be dead, but this fake news item from the stalwart fake newspaper "The Onion" made me chuckle somewhat. The Onion.

  • TIME TO START HOARDING CHEESE, YOU SONS OF BITCHES! Cookthink.
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Last night was the first game of baseball's biggest pageant, the World Series! This can only mean one thing: time for Scott Boras to pipe up, strut around, and stick his chest out like a peacock. He's got the unenviable task of trying to get the Red Sox to re-sign team captain and grizzled veteran catcher Jason Varitek, who is coming off his worst offensive season in his entire career. No problem, though, because Scott Boras is nothing if he's not persuasive!

"If you think about his physical conditioning, he's got many more years to play in this game," Boras said last night. "When he's out there, this club is decisively different. You're really talking about a guy that is inherently valuable. In this day and time, what is a player like that worth?

Well, Scott, he was worth $10 million a year over the last four seasons, but now with his contract expired, he ain't worth that much. Baseball Prospectus projected that he's worth just under $5 million in 2009, and that number was posited before his horrid 2008 campaign. Yes, the Red Sox should re-sign him. No, they should not offer more than $5 million a year and no more than 2 years.

"We're in the process of finalizing data intake. We have to look at the marketplace. We have to look at similarly situated All-Star players, who they are in stature to their team. There are many comparisons. We're certainly going to look at how those players [were] received in the free agent market and use that as that watermark."

It's too bad you didn't get this shit worked out in January like you wanted to, Scotty. Maybe you shouldn't have waited for the Sox to come to you and been the bigger man for once in your miserable life.

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Hey, a Major League Baseball player for a New York team has had some trouble with the law! Time for the sports sections of all the crappy newspapers in New York City to get some relevant quotes from the all-time leader in legal humiliation, Darryl Strawberry!

Seems that Darryl called the Yankees exec Ray Negron after he learned about Joba Chamberlain's DUI arrest to ask him to pass on some words of encouragement to Joba. Yes, that's exactly what someone needs when they've been arrested for the first time in their lives, words of encouragement from Darryl Strawberry. Just check out the "Legal and personal problems" section of Darryl's Wikipedia page. It reads like the Canterbury Tales, except with less courtly love and fewer Middle English rhymes.

"I told him I think the main thing for Joba right now is he needs to look at himself in the mirror and evaluate himself, more than anything," Strawberry said yesterday morning. "At that age, in the situation he's in with the Yankees, it's easy to think you can do whatever you want to do. But that's just the beginning."

Then perhaps this reflection is something Darryl should be experiencing privately, and not blabbing to the media. Next time Newsday calls you, Darryl, screen your goddamn calls.

Strawberry doesn't know Chamberlain. He's met him only once. But he knows mistakes like this very well.

But hey, why should that prevent him from giving advice to Joba in the pages of a tabloid newspaper?

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Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

  • Who was the MVP last night? Cole Hamels, no questions asked. His only mistake was deposited in the right field stands by Carl Crawford but other than that, he allowed four hits, escaped one serious jam with a double play, and struck out five in seven dominant innings. Kid's already got as many postseason victories this year as Sandy Koufax had in four World Series appearances, and is just the fourth pitcher to win three Game One starts in a single postseason.

  • Did Shane Victorino know how many outfield assists B.J. Upton had this year? Probably not. Third base coach Steve Smith didn't send Victorino on Jimmy Rollins' shallow fly-out to center fielder Upton; it was Shane's bright idea to tag up. Kid got thrown out by a country mile by Upton, who had 16 outfield assists in the regular season. Was that a case of Upton having an awesome magical arm, or a case of Upton being tested with regularity? I don't know, I saw maybe 15 Rays games all season.

  • So should Cole Hamels have been called for a balk or not? If you're Joe Maddon, the answer is absolutely yes. Hamels, according to Maddon, stepped towards home plate which is a no-no when attempting to pick off a runner. Hamels asserts that he only stepped towards first base, and ended up erasing Carlos Pena from the basepaths with his move and killed a late Rays rally. Tim McCarver was very helpful in explaining the balk rule last night. I'm not being facetious, Tim McCarver was helpful. For once.

  • Will the Rays break the streak of Game One winners? The last five teams to win Game One of the World Series have gone on to win the whole bowl of cantaloupe. Sixty percent of Game One winners have won across the entire history of the World Series. The Phillies took away home-field advantage last night. Still, to count out the Rays because of past history would be silly. Let's all hope this Series goes much longer.

  • HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS PHILLIES FANS? If you're Enrico of the 700 Level, you were rending your garments and tearing out your hair despite leading the entire game. For the sake of the collective sanity of the entire city of Philadelphia, I hope the Phillies win more convincingly in the future, or just get blown out.

Come back later tonight for another World Series Liveglog, starring Tuffy!

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Welcome, readers and commenters to the first ever Walkoff Walk Wednesday Night Liveglog Club World Series Game! We've come a long way since we started liveglogging pre-season games back in March. Here's a link to the first ever glog which coincidentally featured the Phillies. This might be my last liveglog of the year, so I'm going to do my best to entertain you and actually finish the game. Hurry up and finish sewing those World Series patches onto your liveglog blazers, folks!

Tonight's World Series Game One features super lefty Scott Kazmir and his AL Champion Tampa Bay Rays against super lefty Cole Hamels and his NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies. Neither fella has much history against the other team's hitters, so let's ignore all that matchup bullshit tonight. Both pitchers will strike a lot of batters out. Both pitchers are at risk to give up taters. Both pitchers were drafted in the first round back in 2002. Neither pitcher has ever been in my kitchen. Therefore, I've convinced myself that Hamels and Kazmir are exactly the same person, just with different hairstyles. hamelskazmir.jpg

Some lineup surprises for you to peruse:

Phillies

Rays

  1. Rollins, SS
  2. Werth, RF
  3. Utley, 2B
  4. Howard, 1B
  5. Burrell, LF
  6. Victorino, CF
  7. Feliz, 3B
  8. Coste, DH
  9. Ruiz, C
  1. Iwamura, 2b
  2. Upton, cf
  3. Pena, 1b
  4. Longoria, 3b
  5. Crawford, lf
  6. Aybar, dh
  7. Navarro, c
  8. Zobrist, rf
  9. Bartlett, ss

Yes, that's Ben Zobrist batting eighth and playing right field, not Gabe Gross and not Lloyd's boy toy Rocco Baldelli. What gives, Overmanagin' Joe Maddon? It's just Zobrist's second career start in right, but Maddon says the matchup with lefty Hamels is favorable. If Zobrist goes hitless and/or makes an error, you better expect some second guessing tomorrow morning.

Also note that Charlie Manuel has decided to keep Chase Utley and Ryan Howard glued together, side-by-side like conjoined left-handed hitting twins. He's also putting two catchers in the lineup, as righty Chris Coste has the most chances of hitting southpaw Kazmir of al the folks on the Philly bench. Who is Manuel's emergency catcher? I'm going with this person.

Enough analysis! Onto the glog! After the jump!

Former Milwaukee Brewers Scouting Director Jack Zduriencik has been hired as the new General Manager of the Seattle Mariners. He was instrumental in drafting Walkoff Walk favorite Manny Parra, so we are calling this a "good hire". (Brewers Blog)

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We here at Walkoff Walk pretend to know everything about baseball, but when it comes to blatant homerism, we know nothing past the Yankees and Red Sox. Therefore, we've enlisted Daniel McQuade of Philadelphia Will Do to talk up the Phillies and their chances of winning the whole stick of butter.

So Dmac, why will the Phillies win the World Series?

Every year before the World Series a bunch of newspaper columnists from the two competing cities write horrible, unfunny crap about the opposing city. And now that my local baseball nine is back in the World Series, I'd like to join the party!

Unfortunately, the Phillies are playing the Tampa Bay Rays this October. And, really, what is there to joke about the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area? That area is almost as bad as Kissimmee-St. Cloud. It's so crappy it's where Scientology makes its headquarters. It's so crappy it's where the losingest baseball team of all time goes for Spring Training. It's so crappy the hockey arena is named after a newspaper. What the hell is a newspaper?

And, yes, the area's baseball team is named after a body of water (Tampa Bay) and line segments that extend forever in one direction (Rays). I suppose I could go all Gregg Easterbrook and call them the "St. Petersburg Rays," but then I'd be as wrong on my prediction as Easterbrook was on global warming. And Judaism1.

According to its Wikipedia page, a "2004 survey by the NYU newspaper ranked Tampa as a top city for 20-somethings." Truly, a higher honor was never awarded to a city than to get a "top city" ranking from the Washington Square News. Hey, what does The Daily Pennsylvanian think of Tampa? Or maybe The Daily Iowan?

There's also a town in the Tampa Bay area named Land O'Lakes, presumably after the butter.

I don't really watch much American League baseball, as I have taste. According to this story on the Rays' official website, manager Joe Maddon kept the team in it with his "chronic positive thinking." I don't really want t mock a man with such a serious chronic condition, so I'll just move on to the players on the field. (If you'd forgotten, the topic of this blog post is: baseball.)

Predicting sports is easy, though. It takes a real man to tell you not just why the Phillies will win but how. As such, here's a game-by-game recap of how the Phillies take home their first World Series crown since 1980.

Game 1: Phillies 10, Rays 3

Ryan Howard hits a first-inning grand slam against Scott Kazmir and Cole Hamels pitches seven strong innings to give the Phillies a 1-0 series lead. Pat Burrell, though, goes 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, distracted by the sadness of the impending loss of Zima.

ESPN's lead story: Manny Ramirez and Scott Boras in the Budweiser Hot Seat!

Game 2: Phillies 2, Rays 1

The Rays load the bases in the first three innings, but hit into double plays to end all three without scoring any runs. Two copy editors at the Philadelphia Inquirer get into a fistfight afterward, wondering if they still have to use the stupid Knight-Ridder style of "doubleplay." Seriously, people, it's two words. We have enough compound words already; we don't need to make any more.

The announcers continue to harp on the one thing they know about Shane Victorino (he's Hawaiian). Victorino, though, plays the part by making a nice catch while wearing a Hula skirt and dancing the Luau.

ESPN's lead story: A-Rod and Kobe Bryant team up for a charity basketball match... AGAINST THE BOSTON RED SOX?!

Game 3: Rays 8, Phillies 1

Jamie Moyer gives up 15 first-inning runs but the Phillies pitch so well the rest of the way the Rays only end up with 8. The Phils, though, can't get score much, especially after Joe Maddon -- using these even wackier glasses he ordered out of a 1963 Spider-man comic -- convince the umpires that in NL parks in the World Series the AL team is allowed to have a "short fielder."

Meanwhile, Joe Buck is morally outraged by a "Marry me Chase!" sign: "That man is already married! That is a disgusting act by that fan. And it's unfortunate that we have that on our air live." Tim McCarver continues to refer to the Phillies as "a group of geese" for some reason.

After the game, Shane Victorino spews out lava, destroying several villages. Chase Utley, mired in a slump, realizes it's been a while since he ate any brains and really gets down to his roots as a young zombie boy before the next game.

ESPN's lead story: Chris Berman's All-Time Greatest Nickname Countdown, Nos. 975-950.

Game 4: Phillies 7, Rays 0.

Joe Blanton pitches a complete game shutout and Chase Utley hits a pair of homers powered by the brains of the living; both are immediately inducted into the Mmm... Hall of Fame.

ESPN's lead story: Jayson Stark's "A Modest Proposal": What if we just have our own Alternate World Series with Boston vs. Manny?

Game 5: Phillies 1, Rays 0.

The Phillies win the World Series on a walkoff walk in the bottom of the ninth by Ryan Howard, who had switched to a new bat (actually Jared from Subway) for the final game. Shane Victorino celebrates by thanking the Hawaiian Shark God. Joe Buck asks Brad Lidge postgame if he'll ever be able to recover from giving up a homer to Albert Pujols.

ESPN's lead story: Sports Guy Asks His Friends Kronk, J-Dawg And Sweaty D. to rank the NBA teams using quotes from "Caddyshack II."

And that, my friends, is how the Phillies will win2.

Addendum: Hey, look, my dad made the same pick! I wonder if he thinks Ryan Howard is going to use Jared from Subway as a bat, too.

1 When Easterbrook's column returned to ESPN.com, Deadspin wrote a headline that was something like, "Gregg Easterbrook now free to hate Jews at ESPN." A few minutes later it was gone. Come on, Leitch, that was the funniest thing you ever wrote and you wimped out or caved in to Denton or something. I guess what I'm trying to say here is the only thing worse than Gregg Easterbook's political writing is his football column.

2 Sorry I didn't make any Rays jokes3; I'm far too lazy to look up who's on the team or anything. On the plus side, I didn't make any Eva/Evan Longoria jokes, so at least there was that.

3 We're using a very loose-definition of "jokes" here4

4 R.I.P. David Foster Wallace.

The WoW World Series Dabbleboard is open for business. Feel free to mess around.

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In May 2007, the FBI arrested six men who were attempting to attack Fort Dix military base in South Jersey with assault weapons. This sounds far worse than it really is; the six men were basically bumbling idiots who couldn't have taken down a Wawa if they tried. Still, terrorism is no joke and these dudes are all in Federal Court facing severe weapons charges.

Today, the trial continues in a Camden County, NJ courthouse, just across the river from Philadelphia. Here's what happened this morning in this Very Serious Terrorism Case:

Thirteen of the 18 jurors and alternates wore shirts, sweaters or sweatshirts sporting the Philadelphia Phillies logo. The attorneys, judge and spectators laughed.

Hilarious! That's the perfect way to lighten up a trial of folks who conspired to kill U.S. soldiers! Best of all, the Phillie Phanatic was the jury foreman.

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There is not a single journalist or baseballblogger in the known universe who, before the '08 season started, predicted the Rays and Phillies would meet in the World Series. No big deal, predictions are dumb anyway. Let's just sit back and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime matchup and break down each team's strengths and weaknesses before we all make another dumb prognostication.

With both the ALCS and NLCS MVP awards going to starting pitchers, let's start by comparing the two teams' rotations. The Phillies are led by lefty Cole Hamels, who is definitely the best pitcher on his own team and maybe the best pitcher on both teams. After Hamels, the Phils rotation is a jumbled grab bag: a wild fireballer in Brett Myers, a cagey veteran in Jamie Moyer and a chubby Kentuckian in Country Joe Blanton.

The four Rays pitchers are each better than those three Phillies but it's tough to find a #1 guy. Yes, Scott Kazmir is starting Game One and yes, Matt Garza was the ALCS MVP and yes, James Shields had the lowest regular season WHIP and yes, Andy Sonnanstine....uh....has a long last name, but the Rays strength is not having a dominant front-line starter; the Rays strength is depth.

The Rays depth continues in the bullpen, where you can expect to see a different closer every night. The most important reliever on the team is youngster David Price, but manager Joe Maddon has said he won't use Price in consecutive days. So if the Rays have a late lead, expect Overmanagin' Joe Maddon to be creative with his pen and go with the lefty-righty matchups. There's nothing wrong with a little overmanaging when it produces results.

The Phillies bullpen has been coasting since April, but if you think for a second that Brad Lidge is unbeatable, then you haven't been watching the high and deep fly balls hit off of him in the playoffs. It's a wonder he's been perfect in save opportunities for this long, but hey, what other choice does Charlie Manuel have at this point? He'll be playing with fire but he'd be dumb to change things up now.

Offensively, Manuel can change things up and make a difference. He's been blindly batting lefties Ryan Howard and Chase Utley back-to-back for so long, it's as if he doesn't care about teams with strong left-handed pitchers who can neutralize them late. The Rays have three strong southpaws in the pen (Trever Miller, Price, and J.P. Howell). Howard and Utley are terrible against lefties. Utley's OPS drops 50 points against lefties while Howard's OPS plummets over 200 points. Do the smart thing, Uncle Cholly. Put right-handed hitter Pat the Bat between these two.

The Rays lineup is much more balanced. They don't have any MVP candidates but they don't have a huge gaping hole like the Phillies do at the 7th and 8th slots (Pedro Feliz and catcher-of-choice). Joe Maddon's main decision is whether to DH Cliff Floyd or Willy Aybar and whether to play Gabe Gross or Rocco Baldelli in right field. Still, the handedness of the opposing pitcher usually makes that decision for him.

So who is going to win? Probably the Rays. I'll take 'em in seven. Who you got?

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Hey, did you hear anything about the global economic crisis? Me neither! I've been watching too much baseball and profiting off the blood of the working class. But Bloomberg.com is telling me that this global economic crisis might actually affect the multi-national corporation known as Major League Baseball! Negatively! I know!

The credit crunch and fallout from the Standard & Poor's 500 Index falling 35 percent for the year is also hurting corporate sponsorship. The Mariners lost Washington Mutual Inc. after it was saved by JPMorgan Chase & Co., and the Arizona Diamondbacks need to find an advertiser on the pool in the right-field stands after Riviera Pools filed for bankruptcy.

Oh dear God no! Who is going to sponsor the goddamn pool in Arizona? How will the Diamondbacks find the money to pay for Adam Dunn's pedicures if nobody is sponsoring that stupid right field pool?

Seriously though, baseball's appeal will not fade despite the global financial crisis. Heck, the Yankees and Mets have nearly sold out luxury suites in their respective new stadiums for over five-hundred thousand dollars, and league officials will be diving Scrooge McDuck-style into a $5 billion television contract for the next five years. By the time that thing expires, the United States will be back living off the hog and the FOX network will pony up 50 billion dollars for the right to torture our ears with the blathering of Tim McCarver for another half decade.

If anything, folks who can't afford tickets will watch more baseball on television and turn to a time-tested entertainment source to avoid thinking about their 401(k) plans headed into the shitter.

Tonight's Question

| | Comments (10)
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Hey kids, opportunities multiply as they are seized.

  • DO you have what it takes to survive another baseball-less night?

Come back tomorrow and we'll let you make World Series predictions. And then tomorrow night, I'll glog Game One with some special Photoshops by WoW intern Darren. See ya!

linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Phillies fans have tough travel problems since they're playing a team inaccessible by Acela train or automobile. One must travel by aeroplane and/or dirigible. Philadelphia Will Do.

  • Jonah Keri's 31 1/2 reasons to watch the World Series. Why just 31 1/2? Because Canadians can't count to 50. ESPN Page 2.

  • Jayson Stark has no idea how many World Series the Pirates have won. That is something Jayson Stark and I have in common. WHYG,AVS?.

  • Maury Brown's five easy ways for TBS to get their shit in gear in time for the 2009 playoffs. Biz of Baseball.

  • Rinku and Dinesh are fascinated by teleprompters and blenders. In other news, their family in India finally got their first transistor radio. The Million Dollar Arm Blog.

  • In which a beverage review pursues the concept of "Equality in pursuit of objectivity". Knowledge for Thirst.
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We here at Walkoff Walk pretend to know everything about baseball, but when it comes to blatant homerism, we know nothing past the Yankees and Red Sox. Therefore, we've enlisted David Chalk of Bugs & Cranks to talk up the Rays and their chances of winning the whole stick of butter. He insisted on calling them the "Devil Rays" so don't blame me for the misnomer.

So David, why will the Devil Rays win it all?

First off -- I want to congratulate the Phillies and their fans for a terrific season that for all intents and purposes ended last Wednesday. What a run you've had, reaching the apex of Philadelphia sports achievement, a losing appearance in the final round of the postseason. As long as no Phillie player vomits on the field during the World Series, they will have given a better account of themselves than Donovan McNabb.

If the Phillies were playing almost any other American League squad in the World Series, they would deservedly be heavy underdogs. How much more so then when they are not playing just any team from a league far superior to their own, but playing the greatest team in baseball this year and perhaps any year, the mighty Tampa Bay Devil Rays?

Certainly, it has taken some people a long time to realize how awesome the Devil Rays are. In March 2007, when I was encouraging people "to join me early here on the Devil Rays Recreational Vehicle of Dynastic Destiny," I heard from a lot of doubters and haters. Before spring training, I went team by team through all 29 other clubs, and showed how not one was shit compared to our Devil Rays, and surprisingly some people still remained unconvinced. But I'll try one more time to throw out a few of the countless reasons our beloved Devil Rays will be World Champions.

You don't have a team as good as the Devil Rays -- a MLB-best 104 wins this year -- come as close to seeing their season end as they did in the ALCS, and come out flat in the World Series.

Did you watch any of those games in Boston last week? Longoria, Upton and Pena averaged 7 home runs per game -- you think Fat Joe Blanton and Jamie Lee Curtis Moyer are gonna be able to keep them in that ridiculous bandbox stadium they have in Philly?

Cliff Floyd guaranteed a Devil Ray world title when the playoffs began. Nate Silver put our odds at over 90%. Rob Iracane predicted a Devil Rays over Cubs World Series a few weeks ago.

The Phillies had a 7-day layoff -- that didn't help the fluketastic Rockies or the Tigers the last two years.

We're too deep in every facet of the game -- offense, defense, starting pitching, bullpen, speed, power.

And again, the Phillies haven't won anything. They've been handed two straight division titles by the Mets. They had a first-round bye against the worn-out Brewers. They got to skip the Cubs and face one of the chokingest postseason managers in the history of baseball.

Somebody might want to play the impact of the Philly fans -- but just like you saw in Wrigley this year, you take an accursed fan base and as soon as they get hit in the mouth once you get the here-we-go-again effect. That's what a 25-year drought'll do to you. And 25 teams times 4 sports, that's 100 seasons too.) The faithful of Devil Ray Town don't have that problem. The ALCS has demonstrated once again that this team can and will come back from anything -- if it should somehow freakishly get to that point.

But come on, honestly -- this wasn't a serious question, it was a goof, right? Y'all watch baseball?

Backstreet's Back? Alright.

| | Comments (1)

The rumors are true, the Backstreet Boys will be singing the National Anthem tomorrow night at the Trop.

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Oh boo-hoo, the FOX network didn't get their desired Red Sox-Dodgers matchup in the World Series and now everyone is going to cry in their oatmeal because the TV ratings are going to be in the shitter for the next week or so. I expressed my opinion on a Phillies-Rays series last week as such:

How bad will the ratings be for a possible Phillies-Rays World Series? Who the fuck cares? What monetary stake do I have in the ratings? I could care less what the ratings get or how much money the FOX network stands to make or lose because the teams they wanted didn't make the big dance. For a baseball fan, a Phillies-Rays series is awesome because both teams are good at playing baseball. Screw the ratings; every non-baseball fan can go watch crappy shows like How I Met Your Mother or Chuck and go shit in their hats. I don't care if it's the Saskatchewan Mooseriders and the Peoria Yogurteaters playing in the World Series: if the baseball is good, I'm there.

Peoria Yogurteaters...I'm so clever! Anyway, David Pinto over at Baseball Musings has some forward-thinking ideas that might prove how ridiculous all the naysayers are. He points out that the highest-rated Fall Classic in the past eleven years was the 1997 Marlins-Indians series that went the full seven. Two otherwise inconsequential cities with next-to-zero market size produced two great baseball teams that fought tooth-and-nail, with the Indians (forgot about Mesa!) Marlins coming out on top. He followed up with this:

The 1997 series also featured a Florida team not known for turning out crowds. Fans, however, do watch the Marlins on TV. The series featured a team roaring onto the scene after never winning before against a team that had not won a World title in decades. The series was also very tight, with the Marlins and Indians winning alternate games. If the series avoids looking like a sweep fairly early, I can see pretty good ratings for the week.

See? It's not about the market size of the teams in the fight, it's about the fight of the size in the...wait, how does this cliché go?

One day before the World Series begins, Walkoff Walk brings back the Playoff Dabbleboard for all your graffito-makin' needs. Get your Wassily Kandinsky on, folks.

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Several members of the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays woke up early the day after their big ALCS Game Seven win over the Red Sox, most likely hungover from Bacchanalian celebrations that lasted throughout the night, and threw their cheesy teal-colored hats into the political ring at a Democratic rally in Tampa:

Rookie pitcher David Price will introduce (Barack) Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, at the "Early Vote for Change" rally at Steinbrenner (formerly Legends) Field in Tampa. Outfielder Fernando Perez will talk about the importance of early voting. Carl Crawford, Cliff Floyd and Jonny Gomes will also be there.

Price introducing Obama? Sounds right to me. Despite your political leanings, you have to appreciate the similarities between Price and Obama. Both were relative unknowns when they first emerged on the national stage. Both performed at a high level with a calm approach in a high-intensity situation. Both are younger than most folks in their chosen profession. Both were up against old farts in a pressure situation, as Obama faced 92-year-old John McCain in three debates and Price struck out 63-year-old Jason Varitek in the ninth inning of Game Seven of the ALCS.

Most importantly, Obama and Price might meet again early next year as President Obama introduces the World Champion Rays at the White House. Either that or a dejected Senator Obama will stop by to shoot some hoops in Montgomery, Alabama with a struggling Price who got sent down to the Triple-A Biscuits. I can't predict the future, people.

(Picture stolen from Tampabay.com)

All four expansion teams added since 1993 have now won league championships and earned an appearance to the World Series. The Florida Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks won the whole bowl of almonds while the Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Rays are just happy to be there. That leaves the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, and Washington Nationals as the only franchises to never make the World Series.

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The second most despicable newspaper in New York has new! and exciting! details about the Joba Chamberlain DUI arrest. The Daily News reports that Joba, a full ninety minutes before leaving a Lincoln, Nebraska strip club, was heckled by a man who said two magic words that make New York tabloids quiver with delight: "Red" and "Sox":

Chamberlain - who had a blood-alcohol level more than 1-1/2 times Nebraska's legal limit when he was nabbed - was heckled as he and friends watched the dancers at the Night Before Lounge, witnesses said.

"Some guy yelled out, 'If you played for the Red Sox, you wouldn't be sitting here,'" clubgoer Gary (Bo) Bohaty said.

"That got a rise out of him," said Bohaty, owner of the Beacon Lounge, a bar next to the strip club. "[Joba] turned his head and said, 'What did you say?' and the guy yelled it out again."

As Chamberlain kept shouting back, one of the pitcher's friends got into a shoving match with the heckler, said the club's manager, who asked not to be identified.

That gentleman should be a professional heckler! Ho, ho, he sure zinged Joba Chamberlain, star Yankees pitcher! In fact, he irked him so much that Joba and his crew stayed another hour and a half before departing, leaving a $100 tip on a $145 tab, after which Joba got arrested for the DUI. Cause and effect, says this investigative reporter!

Perhaps the best quote comes from Joba's dad:

"Please get off my property," said Harlan Chamberlain, who then pointed to a woman in a neighboring driveway. "If she got a DUI, would it be a story?"

Yes, Harlan, because you live next door to Barbara Billingsley.

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Milwaukee Brewers interim manager Dale Sveum was informed last week that his 'interim' title was super-accurate. As soon as G.M. Doug Melvin finds a new manager, Sveum is out on his ass, probably from the entire Milwaukee organization. Hey Dale, when Doug Melvin gets another shot at hiring superstar manager Ken Macha, he's taking NO chances.

The shitcanned skipper, who led the Brewers to a just-above-mediocre 7-5 record over the last two weeks of the regular season and backed in to the playoffs thanks to a completely expected Mets collapse only to be sent packing by the NL champion Philadelphia Phillies, is notably emo:

"My heart was ripped out of my chest," said Sveum. "I was shocked.

"I thanked him for the opportunity. Now, I'm in a tough situation. I'm out of a job. The most disappointing part of it all is that I'm no longer going to wear a Brewers uniform. That's the toughest part. I loved the Brewers and the organization."

"I just wish there wasn't so much emphasis put on veteran managers," said Sveum. "I'll match my knowledge of baseball and my ability to slow the game down with anybody."

Slow the game down? This is a positive thing? This is what Sveum lists under "Strengths" on his resume? Geez, thank you, Doug Melvin, for taking care of this plague. Why did Sveum need to slow down the game? So he had extra time to figure out what was going on?

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Red Sox Nation governor of North Carolina Sean Bunn went out to his local watering hole last Wednesday night to watch his beloved Red Sox fall flat on their faces in a tough Game Four loss to the Rays. He came home to find his condo had been vandalized, seemingly by a Yankees fan with a cruel sense of humor.

All of his Red Sox memorabilia was vandalized. His antique furniture was vandalized. His 2004 World Series commemorative plates with images of Curt Schilling and Jonathan Papelbon locked in a lusty embrace were shattered. His Jim Rice Fathead and his Johnny Pesky Fathead were re-arranged to look like they were engaged in an unspeakable interracial tryst. Pinstripes and interlocking NY's were spray painted in his condo, and the uniform numbers of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were spray painted on the backs of his dress shirts.

Worst of all, the vandal simply can't count or spell:

In a destructive nod to history, the vandal or vandals painted "26-3" on one wall -- apparently a botched reference to the Yankees' number of World Series championships relative to those won by the Red Sox. Bryan Richardson, 33, a friend of Bunn's who helps organize Triangle Red Sox Nation events, believes the clues point to someone who isn't a lifelong Yankees fan.

"I don't think it's a typical fan at all, because they know how to spell 'Yankees,' " Richardson said in a telephone interview, referring to the "Yankes" painted on one wall. "It's probably somebody who was not brought up a Yankee fan, maybe a young kid in high school or college who doesn't understand the whole history."

Wait, was that a jab at Yankees fans? I don't understand North Cackalackians' feeble attempt at humor.

(We owe an entire Coke distributorship to the folks at BBTF Newsblog)

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Joe Maddon had a bevy of bullpen options in the eighth inning of last night's Game Seven tussle and he simply couldn't decide which option to choose. So he chose them all. Starter Matt Garza (0 outs) gave way to righty Dan Wheeler (1 out) who gave way to lefty J.P. Howell (1 out) who gave way to sidearmer Chad Bradford (0 outs) who gave way to rookie David Price, making his third appearance in the playoffs after just five games in the regular season. Price finished out the eighth by striking out J.D. Drew with the bases loaded, and it was all easy coasting downhill from there for the youngster.

Price was the #1 pick in the 2007 draft and he earned his bonus with the next three outs he got, the final outs of the ALCS. Kid earned his first career save by striking out Jason Varitek swinging and Mark Kotsay looking, and then getting Jed Lowrie to ground into a fielders choice. Somebody send a search and rescue team into the Trop; I think Kotsay is still standing at home plate staring at that slider. Think about it: Maddon put a rookie on the mound in the biggest spot of the season, leaving Grant Balfour and Trever Miller to sweep up the sunflower seeds in the bullpen. That's gutsier than getting that shitty fauxhawk haircut and way gutsier than spending all his hard-earned cash on hipster foods like arugula and farmhouse cheddar.

Price combined a 96 MPH fastball with his wicked nasty slider to embarrass the bottom of the Sox lineup. With his repertoire of pitches and the fluid nature of Maddon's pen management, it's quite possible that Price will be called upon to close out games in the upcoming World Series. He's like the new version of 2002 World Series-era Francisco Rodriguez, except without that silly 'pointing-to-the-sky' routine. What's up there anyway, Frankie?!? A space shuttle?

Garza got the win last night and earned his ALCS MVP award. But it was David Price who shocked and awed the Sox in the eighth and ninth innings, sending them back to Boston without any fruit cup. Not bad for a Tennessee kid who grew up rooting for the Braves.

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Congratulations to the Rays for winning the entire ball of wax. Nobody thought they'd be here! Nobody knew they'd win! But Joe Maddon and his band of merry unknowns turned the tables on the entire Junior Circuit in stamping the lone ticket to the World Series. The Rayspocalypse continues on Wednesday.

Thanks to Tuffy and Lloyd the Barber for handling some amazing weekend liveglogs, and thanks to Getty Images photog Doug Benc for snapping that great image.

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Five years after it was published and turned the world of baseball analysis on its ear, Michael Lewis' book "Moneyball" is being made into a film, perhaps starring Brad Pitt as Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane. George Clooney was available but wasn't cast because his charm and wholesome good looks didn't exploit inefficiencies in the leading actor market.

If you read the book, you're probably wondering how it could be made into an interesting movie. How can Hollywood possibly make a picture about the benefits of signing young players who tend to walk a lot? Easy: they're just going to Disney-fy the story.

Producer Michael De Luca previously explained what their take is: a "dramatic depiction of that 2002 season" that is "condensed to really the beginning and end of that season that contained the 22 game winning streak." De Luca adds: "I think there should be a mix of a sports movie but also an anti-establishment triumph of the individual in terms of the way Billy Beane went up against conventional wisdom and the bureaucracy."

Blech, Sounds like a real tearjerker. Steve Zaillian is set to adapt the book for the screen. He notably wrote such illustrious movies as Schindler's List, Mission: Impossible, and American Gangster. Schindler's List, eh? Wait until you see the treatment "Moneyball" subject Kevin Youkilis gets in this picture.

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Ever since Brad Lidge and the Phillies sent the Brew Crew packing for the sunny golf courses and beach resorts of Northwestern Wisconsin, beat writer extraordinaire Tom Haudricourt has been on top of the search for a new manager in Milwaukee. It's just like last year's search for a new Yankees manager, but without the glitz and glamour and with far many more goyim.

Sure, interim manager Dale Sveum hasn't been shitcanned quite yet, but he's about as lame as a lame duck can get. With the big names being bandied about by Haudricourt, Sveum sticks out like a 8-year-old girl at the high roller blackjack table in the Palms.

Here's a list of the folks that Tommy Boy mentions in his blog:

  • Willie Randolph
  • Davey Johnson
  • Bobby Valentine

What do all these folks have in common? Yes, all three men have never been in my kitchen, but they also at one point managed the New York Mets. Throw Art Howe and Yogi Berra in there and we've got ourselves a fine fivesome of former Flushing foremen. Were I in charge of a Major League team, I'd tend to avoid former Mets managers. They all have Shea cooties.

Other folks mentioned are Bob Brenly, Mike Hargrove, and ESPN analyst Buck Showalter. Take those six names together and they have another thing in common: they're all big time names in the managerial game. They've all had varying levels of success on multiple teams and are constantly on the minds of newspaper folk when teams seek out new managers. Is Brewers GM Doug Melvin even considering looking to promote within the organization at all? Is he thinking of new candidates from other teams who might be bright young stars? Or is he content with recycling another manager from the scrap heap?

My prediction: UECKER.

Simple and elegant. (Babes Love Baseball)

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Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

  • What the heck happened there? I don't know. Nobody knows. Nobody can explain how the team with the best bullpen in the American League all of a sudden let their slumping opponent suddenly wake up and decide to start pouring on eight runs in three innings. Unless of course, you want to peg it as pure unmitigated luck. Yes, the Red Sox have some good hitters. Yes, even the Rays bullpen messes up once in a while. But if you don't believe that last night's events had less than a one-in-a-trillion chance of happening, then you're out of touch. That wasn't supposed to happen like that but it was absolutely amazing. And now we have more LCS action!

  • So who was right in this argument? Still too soon to tell, but with Scott Kazmir pitching one of the best games in his career in the single biggest moment of his life, I'm giving the advantage to Rob. Joe Maddon made the right call by starting Kazmir in that game, and despite the enormous bullpen failure, I'm calling that point/counterpoint in favor of the Clooneyest one among us. We'll know for sure when James Shields throws a 27 strikeout perfect game on Saturday night.

  • How awesome is the Fangraph for this game? Take a look at the Red Sox' odds of winning during the seventh innings stretch. They had a zero percent chance of coming back. Zero. That means they defied the biggest odds mathematically possible in their comeback. Take a look at play log, sorted by win probability added. J.D. Drew had two of the three biggest plays in the game by a country mile. We can almost ignore every single home run the Rays hit in their three games at Fenway because Drew has singlehandedly thrown himself to the top of the list of MVP candidates with his performance.

  • What are the Red Sox chances to win the whole bag of potatoes now? The team is still on life support. They're most likely sending the crippled body of Josh Beckett out on the mound Saturday night in their own personal hell, the Tropicana Dome, where they've won just one game out of their last 283 contests. Outside of three fantastic innings, their offense has been about as efficient as a sportsblogger at his day job. Worst of all, people actually think they can win this thing now. If I were Tito Francona, I would overmanage this ALCS a bit and throw Jon Lester to the mound in Game Six. It's a must win game, and he'd feel pretty dumb leaving the third-best pitcher in the American League on the bench while Beckett gets pounded like a veal cutlet out there.

  • What are you doing Saturday night? WRONG! You're coming online for the Game Six liveglog starring Sooze of Babes Love Baseball.
linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • NJIT professor Bruce Bukiet used a computer model to figure out who should win the MVP and Cy Young awards. There was a bug in the system because Corey Patterson won Executive of the Year for the Pacific Coast League. BBTF Newsblog.

  • Tom Tango challenges all the baseball nerds out there (including Nate Silver) to put their forecasting systems up to a challenge. CTC and I are going to enter with our purely mathematical system of choosing players based on musical preference. The Book Blog.

  • Phillies beat writers have been eating their pre-game meals in abject filth and disgusting conditions at Citizens Bank Park. Philadelphia Will Do.

  • Kulp wants Phillies fans to hire Yankees fans so they can learn how to celebrate like real assholes. Hey Kulp, I'll cram some fireworks down your throat and stick an M-80 up your ass. How's that for a celebration? The 700 Level.

  • Jonah Keri writes an elegy to Jason Varitek's bat. Cheer up, Red Sox fans, that unlucky Expos fan Keri just reversed the jinx; Tek's totally hitting a tater tonight. ESPN Page 2.

  • Grant gets to the bottom of those Delmon Young-to-the-Giants rumors. McCovey Chronicles.

  • Hey Red Sox players, come packed tonight. Big League Stew.

  • Join the Angels Strike Force! Folks with an aversion to monkeys or dago managers need not apply. Teamwork Online.

  • Rinku and Dinesh are totally watching the playoffs with us. Check out that hot flat screen. The Million Dollar Arm Blog.

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From time to time, Camp Tiger Claw and I discuss baseball like calm, thoughtful intellectuals. This is not one of those times. This is one of those chats where we just throw feces at each other like monkeys.

This little tete-a-tete stems from Rays manager Joe Maddon's decision to switch up his pitching rotation so that his James Shields can avoid Fenway Park, where he has been absolutely shelled in his career (0-3 in three starts with a 10.13 ERA). Please to enjoy:

CTC: mark my words
Joe Maddon is overmanaging with this Kazmir thing
Rob: not that big of a deal
the Red Sox are winning this game no matter what
Dice-K is going to blow everyone's assholes out of the water
Maddon knows Kazmir is a dead duck tonight or saturday night
so he's going with his strongest hand in game the sixth
now you say something interesting and we can publish this chat
CTC: That's dumb.
Rob: well put.
CTC: Why wouldn't you want to use your best pitcher in a clinching game?
Maddon is overmanaging, you're over thinking and you're both useless stathead hipsters.
Rob: In normal circumstances, you would want to use your best pitcher, but Fenway Park is the place pitchers go to die.
Joe Maddon didn't make it this far going by the conventional wisdom.
His shitty fauxhawk told him to switch up his rotation.
CTC: Tampa has won 6 of their last 8 at Fenway. If it's not broke don't put Elvis Costello glasses on it, funboy.
Overmanaging.
Rob: The Red Sox are just a dying breed. How many of those games did Shields win? Zero. How many did Dice-K lose? Zero.
(i'm just guessing with those figures)
CTC: I could look it up but I'm enjoying my Jasmine Green Tea too much.
Very floral bouquet.
Joe Maddon is a dickhead.
Rob: Now who's the fruity hipster?
CTC: Me, you and Overmanagin' Joe Maddon.

Our pal D-mac brings us video evidence that people in Philadelphia are just looking for a reason to celebrate without resorting to violence and/or arson.


Says D-mac: "Philly doesn't win enough for people to fight after wins". Makes sense.

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Despite the strain on the national economy and the massive job losses across the board, there's one profession that's always in demand: recycled Major League manager! (also, plumbers named Joe) Baseball teams are falling all over themselves trying to hire the latest and greatest big name on the free agent market: former Mets manager Willie Randolph. Both the illustrious New York Yankees and lowly Washington Nationals have expressed interest in hiring Randolph, with just one minor detail: they don't want him to actually manage the team:

The Nationals are seriously interested in hiring Willie Randolph as a bench coach, according to baseball sources. The news about Washington's interest in Randolph was first reported by Newsday in New York. It's not known if Randolph will take the job.

And...

The Yankees need a third-base coach, and Willie Randolph needs a job. So there is a chance the former Mets manager might return to The Bronx. In a move that shows the honeymoon between Joe Girardi and the Yankees is officially over, Bobby Meacham, a close friend of Girardi's, is out as third-base coach, a move that was announced yesterday.

We've had fun defending Willie Randolph in the past. He just seems like a good guy and was pretty much ran out of Queens as the scapegoat for an underachieving Mets team. Still, it seems that teams just want to have him around as a lucky charm on the bench or the baselines and not actually in charge of stuff.

So where will he end up? Bench coach of the Nats? Third base guy for the Yanks? Intern for Walkoff Walk? Wait and see, but we have an excellent 401(k) plan here.

(Also, the Brewers are inna-rested)

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Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

  • So, was that a strike to Jeff Kent or not? I don't know. With two on and two out in the seventh, Kent came up to face Cole Hamels, who had just reached 99 pitches. Credit to the FOX network for capturing a hot tete-a-tete between Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee in the dugout about whether Hamels should stay or he should go. We all thought it was curtains for the young lefty when Uncle Cholly emerged from his subterranean perch; but alas! There was a brief meeting on the mound and Hamels stayed in to strike out Kent on a very questionable low strike three that sailed just away from Kent at his knees.

  • Where is Rafael Furcal going to end up next year? Because I doubt he'll want to show his mug in Dodger Stadium ever again after last night's debacle. Kid made three (3!) errors in the fifth inning, setting an NLCS record for oopsies and helping the Phils score two unearned runs. He's a free agent now and teams tend not to keep middle infielders who make glaring errors. I see Furcal playing in Chicago next season, just because.

  • If the Phils win the World Series, will Ed Wade get a ring? Pat Gillick must have brass balls and a solid gold asshole because he had the gall to credit Philadelphia's hated Ed Wade for the Phillies' National League title. Sure, Wade brought Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Brett Myers, Ryan Madson, Carlos Ruiz and Shane Victorino into the organization during his tenure, but the team consistently came up short year after year. It took shining white knight Pat Gillick to bring in such elite names like...uh...well...Joe Blanton? So Taguchi?... before they could get to the big dance.

  • Will Manny Ramirez stay in Los Angeles? The Dodgers would be crazy to let him walk. Forget the money, forget the length of contract, forget the strange behavior, forget the dickhead agent, and forget the occasional simple assault, Manny Ramirez is a cash cow for the franchise. He puts asses in seats and in the past few months he created an actual exciting atmosphere in Dodger Stadium. Who cares if the team goes 81-81 next year? Manny Mania will put cash in Frank McCourt's pockets.

  • What about the American League, Rob? We'll cover that later tonight, with another special guestglogger. Join us at 8PM for ALCS Game Five, y'all.

Back in July, I told you about Bob Costas' interview with legends Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Thanks to Derrick Goold for letting us know that AOL Video has graciously posted video of the HBO show an extremely short highlight reel that I've put after the jump because it autoplays:

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Get ready to feel old, those of you over the age of twenty-five (which, I think, is 99% of our readers): Kirk Gibson's dramatic walkoff ding-dong in Game One of the World Series happened twenty years ago today. That makes today an anniversary of sorts and Dodgers fans can celebrate it tonight at home in Chavez Ravine...maybe. They have to avoid losing to Phillies ace lefty Cole Hamels and they have to avoid continuously acting like assholes:

(T)he Dodgers faithful remain blue over a perceived rise in booze-fueled hooliganism, a problem that team spokesman Charles Steinberg conceded "is not solved."

"It is a high priority," Steinberg said Tuesday. "It breaks your heart when the smallest of numbers seem to ruin it for some people."

Phillies fans (yes, timid innocent Phillies fans!) have been harassed with verbal slings and arrows, along with the occasional tossed brewski. There have been multiple fights in the stands on both nights at Dodger Stadium, and this is actually an improvement:

During the 2005 baseball season, the LAPD reporting district that consists mostly of the stadium logged 104 serious crimes, such as assaults, robberies, vandalism and car thefts. That number dropped to fewer than 70 in 2006 and 2007, and was 21 at the start of the Dodgers-Phillies series.

Hey Los Angelenos: you have a reputation of being insouciant and tepid, showing up late and leaving early. Is the existence of In-N-Out Burger joints in your immediate area not enough to satisfy your urges? Does the Viper Club not allow you to let go of all your rock 'n' roll energy? Do you need to expel it all at the ballpark all of a sudden?

The Dodgers have a fan hotline (323-224-2611) this season that folks can call to anonymously report offenders in the stands. I'm going to call it tonight and report Dodgers season ticket holder Robert Wuhl for harassing us with all those awful years of "Arliss".

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The Red Sox have officially hit the panic button. Having lost two humiliatingly bad games on their home turf and with just one game remaining at Fenway Park in the ALCS, I don't blame them one bit. It's time for Red Sox Nation to activate, and captain Jason Varitek and his .220 batting average has a plan!

Captain Jason Varitek suggested there would be a speech on Thursday before Game 5 and that he would make it. It was odd, however, for Varitek to suggest this version of the Red Sox needed more crowd support to pull off another comeback. Fenway Park has been gut-punched with early Rays rallies in Games 3 and 4.

"It doesn't hurt our team to have some faith," he said. "We need to find a way to get our crowd involved, get our fans involved and come out there and be ready to play."

You heard him, Sox fans. Your job is to show up two hours before first pitch tomorrow night for cheer practice led by Cap'n 'Tek. He'll teach you some ol' fashioned "rah rah sis boom bah" that's been lacking of late in Fenway.

Seriously, though, it is strange to know that the Fenway folks have been so non-supportive of their team over the past two routs. The television viewers have been treated to actual boos mixed in with the occasional "Yoouuuk". C'mon, Bostonites! That's the stuff I've heard at Yankee Stadium their last three playoff appearances. That's the stuff we've heard at Shea Stadium for the last twenty years. That's the stuff Cubs fans do, fer chrissakes! You're supposed to be all knowledgeable about baseball in Boston, and you're supposed to be satisfied with two World Series championships in the past five years.

So if you've got tickets for Game Five tomorrow night, clap your hands real hard, Sox fans, or you might not see your team again until April. Because I'm going to kidnap them and keep them in my basement.

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Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

  • Are the Red Sox done? Finished? Kaput? In a word, yes. This isn't 2004, this isn't 2007. They were completely outmatched in every aspect of the game last night. They were out-hit, out-pitched, out-fielded and out-intangibled on two straight days in their own ballpark. The team's health is in shambles, with Mike Lowell headed to hip surgery, David Ortiz treating his wrist like fine china, and the pitching staff absolutely emotionally decimated by Tampa tater tots.

  • What's gotten into Willy Aybar? Kid got hot at the right time, going 6-for-9 in the last two Rays routs with five RBI last night and a tater tot. This is a guy who part-timed at third base, first base, DH, and outfield during the regular season, collecting a paltry 33 RBI in 95 games. Joe Maddon made the right call, playing the switch-hitting Aybar at DH instead of Cliff Floyd, who struggled against Wakefield in his career.

  • Is Cole Hamels going to win the NLCS MVP tonight? If he gets the win, yes. Doesn't matter how well he pitches, as long as (a) he gets the win and (b) Matt Stairs doesn't hit a walkoff ding-dong, Hamels is the Phillies most valuable fella. Chad Billingsley and his 27.00 NLCS ERA is going to do his darndest to prevent that from happening, but this is the biggest start of Hamels' career and he's got the upper hand.

  • How bad will the ratings be for a possible Phillies-Rays World Series? Who the fuck cares? What monetary stake do I have in the ratings? I could care less what the ratings get or how much money the FOX network stands to make or lose because the teams they wanted didn't make the big dance. For a baseball fan, a Phillies-Rays series is awesome because both teams are good at playing baseball. Screw the ratings; every non-baseball fan can go watch crappy shows like How I Met Your Mother or Chuck and go shit in their hats. I don't care if it's the Saskatchewan Mooseriders and the Peoria Yogurteaters playing in the World Series: if the baseball is good, I'm there.

  • Who's getting Jake Peavy? I don't have time for trade rumors among non-contenders. Unless the Yankees are interested. In that case, I'll flush the playoffs down the toilet. We're getting Peavy!

Game 5 of the NLCS is tonight. Be here for the glog, y'all.

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Okay, gloggers. Every day of the playoffs brings new memories and more important games. You've got your Red Sox coming off a bad game that pushed them down 2-1 in their own joint and you've got your Rays riding high after winning back home-field advantage. You've got solid but unimpressive postseason vet Tim Wakefield going up against young bright-eyed Andy Sonnanstine. You've got an evening date with Rob Iracane on the Internet, and I've got a six pack of BLts waiting to help me render my opinions and reactions completely illegible.

Here are your lineups for the game:

Red Sox Rays
  1. Drew, RF
  2. Pedroia, 2B
  3. Ortiz, DH
  4. Youkilis, 3B
  5. Bay, LF
  6. Kotsay, 1B
  7. Crisp, CF
  8. Cash, C
  9. Lowrie, SS
  1. Iwamura, 2B
  2. Upton, CF
  3. Pena, 1B
  4. Longoria, 3B
  5. Crisp, LF
  6. Aybar, DH
  7. Navarro, C
  8. Perez, RF
  9. Bartlett, SS

Some notable moves tonight: Jacoby Ellsbury (0-for-20 streak) is out and J.D. Drew is in as the leadoff hitter. Coco Crisp will play centerfield tonight for the Red Sox. For the Rays, welcome rookie switch-hitter and New Jerseyite Fernando Perez to the starting lineup, making his first start since October 3rd against the ChiSox.

Enough prattle! Follow along with me after the jump:

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (8)
Wally the Green Monster, in Robot Hell.

Hey kids, here must all distrust be left behind; all cowardice must be ended.

  • WILL Wally resurrect himself from the depths of the Inferno in time to help the Sox tie up the ALCS at two? Thanks to Dmac for photoshopping that gem.

  • CAN Tim Wakefield notch his 20th postseason victory against a team that ran him ragged during the regular season? It's his first start in the 2008 playoffs; let's see how well his knuckleball knuckles.

  • COULD Andy Sonnanstine's thirteen inning streak without giving up an earned run against the Red Sox continue? He's not really made of magic though: he gave up 20 runs against Boston in 20 innings last year.

  • DID you clear your social calendar tonight? We're liveglogging the game at 8:07PM EDT.

See ya later, pals.

linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Rinku and Dinesh are less than a month away from official tryouts. For what, I'm not sure, but I just got super excited and tense thinking that these two could make it in this foreign land! JB Sir will be so proud. The Million Dollar Arm Blog.

  • Buy your Padres dirt. Only $25, and half of that goes to the Keep Brian Giles Orange Fund. Gaslamp Ball.

  • The Mets are interested in Eric Gagne for their bullpen in 2009. Not to sweep up sunflower seeds in the bullpen, mind you, but to actually pitch. Mets Blog Sponsored by GEICO.

  • Chris Chase gets to the bottom of all those douchebag necklaces all the douchebag baseball players have been wearing. The person responsible for bringing this trend back to the U.S. from Japan? Randy Johnson. Big League Stew.

  • The Mets sold out all their luxury suites but probably because they were mistakenly at discount prices, admits Dave Howard, the Mets' executive vice president of business operations. Squawking Baseball.

  • In honor of Columbus Day, Hugging Harold Reynolds lists the best dagos in baseball, past and present. It's a Wop Listicle! Hugging Harold Reynolds.

  • If you haven't seen the movie trailers for Oliver Stone's W yet, go now. The movie will probably suck but these trailers should win Oscars. Apple.com.
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That's Carl Crawford and Jason Varitek practicing bikram yoga during a break between innings last night. No, I'm kidding of course. They're getting ready for a taint inspection from Red Sox team physician Dr. Leo Spaceman. No, I'm just being coy with you, that's the resulting pose after Carl Crawford barreled down catcher Jason Varitek in the process of getting tagged out at home in the eighth inning of last night's 9-1 Rays win over the Sox.

Of course, Crawford's failure to score was for naught as Lloyd's favorite fella Rocco Baldelli smashed a three-run tater tot immediately following the play to put the game out of reach. But note: the Rays have now made three outs on the basepaths in three games. Crawford was picked off first base in Game Two and B.J. Upton was tagged out on a sweet play by Kevin Youkilis in which Upton rounded past second base, creating a gap wide enough to drive a Mack truck through.

The Rays do not have anything close to an insurmountable lead in this ALCS. True, the Sox will need to win at least one game at the Trop to advance, and their pitching staff is hanging by a thread, and David Ortiz is swinging the bat as if his wrist was about to explode at any minute, but this series is by no means "over". Joe Maddon ought to sit his kids down and warn them to be more cautious on the basepaths. They've stolen just two bases so far and combined with those three outs, it all makes for a poor showing overall by the Rays on the basepaths.

Of course, slow old knuckleballing fart Tim Wakefield goes tonight, and the Rays swiped six bases off him during the regular season; Crawford alone has nine stolen bases against Wake in his career.

(Photo stolen from Barry Chin and the Boston Globe)

The gregarious gentleman of the baseballblogosphere Kevin Kaduk takes a brief turn into the political sphere by posting this video of Barack Obama letting his White Sox hat fall to the side in favor of a decidedly more Eastern Seaboard-y team still alive in the playoffs:


Kudos to Barack for prefacing his new declaration for his Phillies fandom with a boo-inducing statement that yes, he is a White Sox fan. See, Rudy? That's how politicians gracefully switch allegiances: always to a team in a different league and never to your favorite team's goddamn rival. Also, next time you run for president, try to run your primary campaign in states besides Florida.

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Do a Google Search for "Harry How" and you'll get a lot of Harry Potter-related nonsense. "Another example in Half-Blood Prince occurs when Ron tells Harry how Fred and George tried to make him blah blah zzzzzzzzz".

But you might also learn something about Getty Images photographer Harry How, who was responsible for that excellent dugout photo you see to the left. Chase Utley and the Phillies are exuberantly reaching to touch a piece of Matt Stairs so they can try and absorb some of his magic Canadian power for their own, and Harry How was in the right spot at the right time to nail a superb pic.

Stairs' post-game comments further illustrated how excited he and his teammates were about the tater tot:

"You want to get that one big hit where you feel like you're part of the team. Not that I don't feel like I'm part of the team, by no means, but when you get that nice celebration coming into the dugout and you're getting your ass hammered by guys, it's no better feeling than to have that done."

Thanks to Yahoo for paying good money to publish Getty Images on their website so a simple sports blog like ours can merely waltz in and steal them for nothing. Internet ethics! We don't haz em!

In this YouTube interview, we learn how Harry How gets his great shots as he gives advice to aspiring sports photogs:


Harry also snagged this picture which makes me very glad to be rooting against the Dodgers right now.

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Major League Baseball's newest moneygrab venture in the world of mass media, their new cable channel called simply "The Baseball Network", is coming to New Jersey. Sunny downtown Secaucus will play host to the network, specifically a massive gray 142,000 square foot warehouse-like building that used to be the home of MSNBC before they departed for loftier Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Dingy Secaucus wasn't at the top of MLB's initial list, however:

(Secaucus) was initially scheduled to be the MLB Network's temporary home while Paramus-based Vornado Realty Trust built a new, $435 million, 21-story office building at 125th Street and Park Avenue in Harlem.

Construction was supposed to begin in April, and the network was expected to take about 20 percent of the space as the anchor tenant.

But the nation's economic woes have put that project on hold, making Secaucus the network's home for "the foreseeable future," Petitti said during a tour of the facility today.

How bad must Secaucusites feel now that a major sports and entertainment corporation had to settle for their crappy burg after they couldn't build a place in Harlem? And where will MLB employee Harold Reynolds take out interns for lunch dates? The nearest Boston Market is all the way out in North Arlington!

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Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

  • Who deserves the most credit for Matt Stairs home run? Well technically, Matt Stairs should be lauded for, you know, actually swinging the bat and putting the baseball into the stands, but let's go back a bit further. Charlie Manuel was down to Stairs and catcher Chris Coste on his bench in the eighth and went with the guy who had just two playoff at-bats to face the Dodgers tough righty closer, Jonathan Broxton. But really, that was a pretty simple decision to make. Truly, we must salute general manager Pat Gillick for making that late August trade with the Blue Jays to bring the slugger Stairs to fill out a solid Philly bench. He never could have imagined this particular situation, but having three solid lefty bats on the bench finally proved to be a great idea against the Dodgers righty-stacked bullpen.

  • What happened to the Jon Lester we all knew and loved? Nothing I guess, he didn't do anything differently last night. The Rays just approached his fastball with fervor for once, After getting just two runs off the lefty in twenty innings during the regular season (three Lester wins), Maddon's Rays finally jumped on his pitches, sending two of his pitches into the seats and bringing five fellas around to score. It was the first time since June that Lester had allowed two taters in a game. He also hadn't allowed any leadoff runners to reach base in his first two playoff starts but let the first man reach in the second, third, and fourth innings last night.

  • How giddy is B.J. Upton right now? Kid's got five tater tots in his first 31 postseason at-bats. In comparison, and forgive me for doing this, baseball purists, but among great centerfielders of all time: Kirby Puckett's five postseason taters came in 97 at-bats, Ty Cobb had zero in 65 playoff at-bats, Joe Dimaggio needed 200 World Series at-bats to hit 8 dongs, and Willie Mays hit just one homer in 89 postseason at-bats. He may never get back to this lofty company again but to be here now, kid's gotta be just high-fiving Baby Jesus in his head right now.

  • Will any non-Manny Dodger get a big hit? Manny Ramirez is OPS'ing 1.584 in 18 NLCS plate appearances. The rest of the team is hovering around the .700 mark. So far, the only Dodger to have a big hit in the series is Blake DeWitt, whose Game Three bases-clearing triple is his only hit so far in the series. The Dodgers lineup has simply been too one-dimensional in this series which is the exact opposite of what they were in September and their crushing NLDS romp over the Cubs. It's time for Ethier or Blake or Martin to get off their ass and do something if the Dodgers want to avoid being sent packing tomorrow night.

  • What the hell happened to our shitty blog last night? The script that allows comments to be made shut down and the entire publishing system nearly went into the crapper and yet our guest bloggers Dmac and Sooze kept bringing the awesomeness in their glogs. Hopefully, comments are working smoothly today and hopefully, they'll continue to work tonight, when we bring you the liveglog of ALCS Game Four.
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The Royals hired Kevin Seitzer as their hitting coach for the 2009 season, after which he'll be fired and the Royals will replace him with another former hometown player who has some shred of experience teaching ballplayers how to be slightly above average.

Seitzer was last employed as the hitting coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks, a position he held for about half a year before getting fired and replaced by Rick Schu, who continued Seitzer's legacy of driving the Diamondbacks tentative offense into the turlet.

Kevin Seitzer's peak as hitting coach for the D-Backs came during spring training of 2008, when he used his wise baseball magic to help out someone named Dave Krynzel with his swing:

Outfielder Dave Krynzel was hitting off a tee one morning early in spring training when he barely mis-hit a ball, the noise echoing off the bat slightly different. Then Krynzel heard Kevin Seitzer's voice behind him: "Keep your stomach tight. Don't open up."

Seitzer, the Diamondbacks' new hitting coach, was correct in his diagnosis, but that wasn't what surprised Krynzel.

"He didn't even see it," Krynzel said. "Me and (Tony Clark) look at each other, and we're like: 'Was he even looking at me?' "

So get those sexy abs ready, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler. Coach Seitzer is going to get you to tighten them up until they look something like this.

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First year Yankees manager Joe Girardi encountered only a few wicked barbs and arrows in guiding his team to a disappointing third place finish. Most folks spent their time blaming A-Rod for the Yankees' inability to win more than 55% of their games and groaning at every dumb statement Hank Steinbrenner made trying to inspire his team to win. Still, the Yankees beat writers took some umbrage with Girardi's practice of keeping team issues private, including injuries to folks like Joba Chamberlain. New York Post columnist Joel Sherman is sad and offended that Girardi would do such a thing!

After claiming that he would never meet with Girardi in a one-on-one session because he, Joel Sherman, believes in the sanctity of the media covering a subject without their own input, he suggests this crazy shit:

Nevertheless, if I ran the Yanks I would advise Girardi to meet individually with the nine beat reporters who travel regularly with the team and take seriously the complaint that his initial instinct to deceive hurts not only his relationship with the media, but also with a) players who find themselves in informational conflict with their manager; and b) the fans, who get less than forthright insights from the manager. And, by the way, this is not just on the subject of injuries, though Girardi and the Yankees think it is.

Sorry, Joel. Baseball is a business and not subject to the 96th Amendment to the Joel Sherman Constitution that states that "base-ball managers must entertain the members of the press who cover their base-ball teams and their selfish theories on how to make the base-ball team better and more fun to write about because going to the playoffs is fun and sells copy". The 97th Amendment, of course, reads "except Joel Sherman because I respect the distance between a reporter and his subject but please can I get this ball autographed for my kid?"

(We owe a Coke Zero to Replacement Level Yankees Blog)

Troy from West Virginia, super Dodgers fan, creator of the ultimate Joe Beimel tribute video and friend of Walkoff Walk got a shoutout from Los Angeles reliever Beimel during the lead up to Game Two of the NLCS. Watch, as Troy takes a ride on an emotional rollercoaster:


Excellent wardrobe change, by the way. He's a pro.

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Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

  • Was Hiroki Kuroda as good last night as Jamie Moyer was bad? No, Kuroda pitched well but he'd have had to throw a no-hitter to approach the extreme point away from average that Jamie Moyer reached. Moyer retired only four batters while getting smacked around for six hits and six runs. He looked like an old fart out there on the mound for the first time in a while and the Dodgers weren't hanging around waiting for him to dink around the strike zone. They were swinging on pitch one and it worked.

  • When is Jimmy Rollins going to start hitting? Hopefully for Phillies fans, it'll be tonight. Kid's just 1-for-13 so far in the NLCS but has some success against tonight's Dodger starter Derek Lowe. Rollins is batting .300 in his career against Lowe, who has made four starts on three days' rest in his career, going 2-1 with a 5.09 ERA. Torre is pushing his sheckels to the middle of the table by starting Lowe on three days' rest instead of grizzled vet Greg Maddux or young stud lefty Clayton Kershaw. He's a gambler!

  • Which player will be the first to get hit in the back tonight? Things have certainly gotten heated between two teams that really have no recent rivalry to speak of. I'm guessing that Lowe will gently guide his 85 MPH 'fast'ball into Shane Victorino's rear end sometime during tonight's game, but I could be completely wrong. After all, who wants to put a speedy Hawai'ian on the bases when there are bigger, slower targets like Ryan Howard.

  • How long is this afternoon's ALCS game gonna last? With Jon Lester on the mound, this one's going to be over in less than three hours. By the way, the average LCS game so far has lasted 3 hours and 36 minutes, but the two LCS games I've had the privilege of glogging have been done in under 3 hours. Thanks for staying up late, Sooze and Lloyd! Those two did an amazing job this weekend.
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Oh me, oh my, I've returned from a weekend Winston-Salem wedding, this football nonsense has finally expired, and baseball can finally return from the backburner after a barnburner that ended so late last night, poor Willy Aybar still hasn't woken up yet. Tonight's NLCS Game Three pits the Phillies and their two home wins tucked neatly into their Lee jeans against the Dodgers and their aging Red Sox infused roster. Yes, Nomar is starting tonight.

Hardened lefty veteran and former Hawk Jamie Moyer will put his old man wits and Wizened Baseball Experience on the line against former Carp Hiroki Kuroda. It's bird against fish! A classic matchup!

Your lineups follow:

Phillies Dodgers
  1. J. Rollins ss
  2. S. Victorino cf
  3. C. Utley 2b
  4. R. Howard 1b
  5. P. Burrell lf
  6. J. Werth rf
  7. P. Feliz 3b
  8. C. Ruiz c
  9. J. Moyer p
  1. R. Furcal ss
  2. A. Ethier rf
  3. M. Ramirez lf
  4. R. Martin c
  5. N. Garciaparra
  6. C. Blake 3b
  7. M. Kemp cf
  8. B. DeWitt 2b
  9. H. Kuroda p

Glog starts after the jump. If you came here looking for the classy Sooze of Babes Love Baseball, tough noogies, come back tomorrow night. Tonight, you get your fill of Rob Iracane.

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During preseason, I predicted the Red Sox would finish in third place in the AL East behind the Yankees and the Rays. This was a massive underestimation of a team that has proven to be the best team in the American League despite their current designation of "Wild Card". The Sox outscored their opponents by 151 runs, the best mark in the AL and 48 runs better than the Rays' 103 run-differential. Despite falling 10-8 in the season series with the Rays and finishing two games behind them, the Sox are just slightly the better team.

Patrick Sullivan at Baseball Analysts gets down to the nitty-gritty and pulls the most telling stats. Boston had an OPS+ of 108 while Tampa's was 103 (not bad), while both teams had an adjusted ERA of 114 (that's really good). Basically, Boston had a better and more powerful offense but their pitching staffs were peculiarly similar. But what about the postseason rosters of the pitching staff? Are these two teams really evenly matched on the mound?

Boston's four starters, Matsuzaka (158 ERA+) , Lester (143), Beckett (114) , and Wakefield (111), outperformed Tampa's four starters, Shields (122), Kazmir (125), Garza (118) and Sonnanstine (100).

In the bullpen, Tampa might have the upper hand even with Troy Percival off the roster. Using our old favorite stat Win Expectation over Replacement, Lineup-adjusted or WXRL, Tampa had three of the top 25 relievers in the American League in J.P. Howell (4.643), Grant Balfour (3.431), and Dan Wheeler (2.087) while the Sox had only Jonathan Papelbon (3.287) in the top 25. The big question in Boston's bullpen is whether Tito Francona backs off his reliance on Justin Masterson and instead brings in Manny Delcarmen in tight situations. hawk.jpg

Defensively, the two teams are a wash, but note well: Jason Bay has seriously upgraded the Boston outfield while Tampa upgraded their own defense by keeping Eric Hinske off the postseason roster. Hinske was dropped in favor of a long reliever, Edwin Jackson.

I'd like to predict the Sox are going to win because they have the stronger team, but because (a) the Rays have home-field advantage and (b) I already predicted the Rays would win, I'm sticking with my guns. Rays in seven.

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If the roast pork Italian sandwiches, Schmitters, and crab fries aren't enough to make Philadelphia fans reach for their Pepcid, then perhaps the second 2008 playoff start this afternoon for Mr. Brett Myers will. Dude has been as unpredictable as the mystery empanada of the day at Pedro McDougle's Irish-Mexican Bar and Grille in Northeast Philly: sometimes he pitches great, sometimes he pitches like garbage and gives you the squirts. Just take a peek at his game log on the year: a terrible start followed by a demotion to Triple-A followed by a return to form followed by a great winning streak followed by a trip back into the shitter followed by a memorable NLDS start against the Brewers. With his peaks and valleys, he's just like the Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags except without the huge wooden target on which to discard your chewing gum before boarding.

Times of Trenton columnist Mark Eckel agrees, and brings up Myers' Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality to prove his point:

Myers, the Phillies' enigma of a starting pitcher-turned-closer, turned-back-to-starter, walked into the interview room yesterday at 4:45 p.m., 15 minutes earlier than planned and carried a bat with him. "I figured you guys wanted to talk about my hitting," Myers said, warming up his audience in stand- up style. "So I brought my bat."

Last night we saw the good Myers, the one the Phillies hope to see on the mound today. When a reporter was talking a little too loud on his cell phone, Myers stopped and playfully chastised him. That was a little different than the nasty altercation Myers got into with a reporter from the same newspaper a year ago.

You remember that incident, right? Here's Brett Myers going at it with Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Sam Carchidi:

BM: "Hey! You pointin' at me motherfucker?! I'll tell you what, dude, I'll knock you mutherfucking out! FUCK YOU!!! You're tough when fuckin' people are standing in front of you, aren't you, you piece of shit! Come on! You fucking idiot. Yeah, you're tough when fuckin' people are standing in front of you, you stupid ass."

SC: "I'm a retard?"

BM: "Yeah, that's right, YOU ARE, you're a fucking idiot. You ask stupid ass fucking questions!"

The man has the temperament of an obstinate rhesus monkey with hypertension and a handful of its own dung. Good luck this afternoon, Phillies fans.

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Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

  • Why did Charlie Manuel not have Cole Hamels pitch around Manny Ramirez in the first inning? With Andre Ethier on second and one out, Manuel could have asked Hamels to semi-intentionally walk Manny and set up the double play with Russell Martin on deck. Maybe he made the right decision though, as Manny's double missed going out of the yard by about two feet and Hamels escaped from the inning with just one run. Call it just dumb luck for one inning, but Hamels cruised the rest of the game and that was pure pitching skills.

  • How magnified is that error by Rafael Furcal? Considering the fact that Furcal went 0-for-4 at the top of the Dodgers lineup, thus allowing Ramirez to come up just two RBI chances in the game, Furcal's error was the least of his problems. After all, Furcal merely grounded out four times in the game. Still, everyone points to his error in the sixth that allowed Shane Victorino to reach first which led to Chase Utley's two run ding-dong.

  • How many heart attacks were reported in Philadelphia between 10:45PM and 11PM? I have no idea, but even a casual Philadelphia supporter like myself had my heart in my throat when Brad Lidge came on to pitch. Lidge is a pure fly-ball pitcher and he gave up two towering fly ball outs to Matt Kemp and Casey Blake. Victorino snagged them both in center field and Lidge held on for the save. Lidge gave up only three tater tots during the regular season but if he gives up a fourth one, it's going to send dozens of Philadelphians into cardiac arrest.

  • Did the FOX announcing crew entertain you, or at least fail to piss you off? There was nothing really entertaining or educational about Buck and McCarver's work last night. They consistently talk down to the audience and worst of all, McCarver seems to be making shit up as he goes along sometimes. What is he, a baseball blogger? In their defense, I don't recall any single moment that caused me to throw my shoe at the television set.

  • Will you join us later today and tonight? We're going to liveglog BOTH LCS games. Join us at 4:30PM EDT for NLCS Game Two and 8:30PM EDT for ALCS Game One.
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Folks, I couldn't be more excited about tonight's playoff game. I could bore you with stats and matchups and predictions and whatnot, but we've had enough build-up all friggin' week long. It's Cole Hamels versus Derek Lowe at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and nobody has any idea who's gonna win. This mother's a tossup!

In case you do want an eloquently written preview of the pitching matchup, check out Jesse Spector's blog. If you want to follow along with the lineups and the game action, head over to MLB.com for the live boxscore. If you want some delicious foie gras in Montreal, go to Au Pied de Cochon.

But if you want dry sports comedy, follow along with me after the jump for all the good smart talk and jibber-jabber:

linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • David Chalk figures out which Red Sox player matches up with which James Bond villians. Tune in tomorrow when he compares the 1989 Kansas City Royals with characters from "How I Met Your Mother". Bugs and Cranks.

  • Craig Sager's worst suits. In related news, I almost fit into my new grey suit. Bad Jerseys.

  • The Wise potato chip company isn't very wise about which decals they affix to their potato chips. Warning: choking hazard ahead. Hugging Harold Reynolds.

  • 'Duk steals a headline but it's a gem. Go read about Orel Hershiser being a poker stud. Big League Stew.

  • Joe Sheehan is just as confused as I am about the NLCS, but still finds a way to make an intelligent prediction. Baseball Prospectus.

  • Padres owner John Moores is selling 49% of the team because of a painful divorce with his wife Becky. This is going to end just like the movie Major League. Gaslamp Ball.

  • The Sugar Shack BBQ features dishes like the Notorious P.I.G., the Texas O.G., and Baby Got Back ribs, along with the Wrappers Delight. Suicide Food.
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Hey jerkface, think your opinions are more informed and less homeriffic than ours? Want your voice to be heard? Then head over and vote for the Internet Baseball Awards.

The good folks at Baseball Prospectus have been doing this since 1991 and continually making the BBWAA look like absolute boobs. It's a real official ballot with the ability to rank up to 10 players in the MVP vote and up to 5 in the Cy Young race.

Serious votes only, please. If Corey Patterson ends up with any first-place votes for MVP and they trace the ballots back to this website, the FEC is going to take away my voting privileges.

Hurry up and vote, though, because the deadline is tomorrow night at 11PM.

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With the postseason stuck in that lull between the Division Series and the League Championship Series, we here at Walkoff Walk thought it would be a good time to assault our readers' eyes and brains with some award posts. We proudly present The First Annual Walkoff Walk Dot Com Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence sponsored in part by nobody because we don't get paid a damn thing to do this website. It's a labor of love.

We've split up our choices into two sections, one for each of us. We've spent minutes and minutes research stats and whatnot to make these important decisions. Please consider our opinions and then feel free to express your own in the comment section.

Next up, the American League MVP: joemauer.jpg

Rob Iracane:

1. Joe Mauer
2. Kevin Youkilis
3. Alex Rodriguez

This was the toughest choice for me to make among all the awards. I've been thinking about this award for a while now and no one candidate stuck his head out long enough for me to make an absolute decision. Still, Mauer caught 139 games this year and managed to amass an .864 OPS while batting third for a team that nearly won the AL Central. Historically, this was a great year for a Twins catcher, nearly as good as his own 2006 season with his .936 OPS. Am I giving this to Mauer as a make-up? Possibly. But take Mauer out of the Twins lineup and there's no way they score 829 runs.

I nearly gave top billing to Youkilis, who significantly increased his power output in 2008, going from a .453 to a .569 slugging percentage while maintaining his .390 on base percentage. Youk also played a great first base while committing 252 innings to third base while Mike Lowell was out. Most of all, Youkilis hit well in every single month. Rodriguez had a noticeable decline from 2007 but is still the best offensive player in the league; to leave him off my ballot would be unfair.

Honorable mention goes to Dustin Pedroia, who started slow but upped his output in time to become the best hitting middle infielder in the league. As for Milton Bradley and Carlos Quentin, they both missed too much time to be considered in this vote.




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Camp Tiger Claw:

1. Carlos Quentin
2. Alex Rodriguez
3. Cliff Lee

Toughest one on the board. The one thing to keep in mind here, is that if Ian Kinsler doesn't get hurt, he ends up running away with this damn thing. But for me his injury comes just a bit too early. Yes Quentin was hurt, and that probably keeps him out off most "real" ballots, but in 130 games, he missed the league HR title by one. He had a higher SLG than anyone but A-Rod, and a higher OPS than anyone but Milton Bradley or A-Rod. Rodriguez takes second by virtue of playing 138 games, and being the best player in the history of sentient life. For lack of a better option, I'll do something I don't usually do and throw a bone to a starting pitcher. The Indians went 24-7 in Lee's 31 starts. Throw out a 14-12 loss in July and they scored 15 runs in the 6 remaining losses. There was hardly a game Lee did not show up for.

As for Pedroia/Youkilis. They both had great years. They split my vote and don't make the list.

Please join us later tonight at 8:30PM Eastern Daylight Time for an official NLCS liveglog. Bring your own roast pork Italian sandwiches and Cobb salads.

For many years, Americans have tried to understand the Japanese culture. Just when we think we've got them figured out, they go and produce something like this:


(via this disturbing website that is so terrible we don't recommend you looking at the rest of the content...seriously)

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Before Manny Ramirez electrified the entire Dodger lineup and before Rafael Furcal and Jeff Kent traded places on the Creampuff list to shore up the defense, the Los Angelese Dodgers were a vastly mediocre team in a vastly piss-poor division. Certain folks overlooked the team when making predictions about their series against the Cubs, but in retrospect, I don't look as dumb right now as the Cubs themselves, so no big whoop.

It behooves the Philadelphia Phillies, in that case, to not overlook the Dodgers because of their ho-hum 2008 record. The two teams are way too evenly matched. Over the last two months of the season, the Dodgers scored 250 runs and allowed 217. Over the last two months of the season, the Phillies scored 253 runs and allowed 211. This is not a coincidence, because both teams are built in a similar manner post-Manny.

Both teams have strong starting rotations, although the Phillies seem to fall off a cliff with their #4 guy Joe Blanton. Hamels, Myers, and Moyer match up well with Lowe, Billingsley, and Kuroda. Either team can choose to bring back their Game One starter on three days' rest for Game Four; doing so will allow that fella to come back in Game Seven on normal rest because of the extra off-day built in. Charlie Manuel has already said he'll go with Blanton for Game Four while Joe Torre is hemming and hawing about using crusty vet Greg Maddux or young stud Clayton Kershaw. torre.jpg

Both teams have strong bullpens, too, although the Phillies structure is far more defined. Brad Lidge is the closer. Chad Durbin comes in to face righties. J.C. Romero comes in to face lefties. Ryan Madson comes in when Myers gets shelled early. It's set in stone, folks. Meanwhile, the Dodgers scrambled with their closer Takashi Saito on the D.L. for part of the regular season. Over the course of the year, Saito and Jonathan Broxton split save opportunities with Joe Beimel and Hong Chih-Kuo doing their magic in the 7th and 8th. Torre is deciding now whether to put Kuo, sidelined of late with a triceps injury, on the postseason roster to replace Saito and his wonky elbow.

Both teams hit lots of taters and took a lot of walks in their NLDS wins. The top six fellas in the Phillies lineup are solid: Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Burrell, and Werth. Past that, it's a crapshoot with Feliz and catcher o' the day. The lineup that Torre trotted out for the NLDS was equally good: Furcal, Martin, Ramirez, Ethier, Loney, and Kemp as the top six, with DeWitt and Blake bringing up ther rear.

Both teams match up well defensively, on the bench, and with their crusty old managers. So how do we predict a winner? We don't. We just cross our fingers and hope this one goes to seven, because more baseball is more gooder.

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With the postseason stuck in that lull between the Division Series and the League Championship Series, we here at Walkoff Walk thought it would be a good time to assault our readers' eyes and brains with some award posts. We proudly present The First Annual Walkoff Walk Dot Com Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence sponsored in part by nobody because we don't get paid a damn thing to do this website. It's a labor of love.

We've split up our choices into two sections, one for each of us. We've spent minutes and minutes research stats and whatnot to make these important decisions. Please consider our opinions and then feel free to express your own in the comment section.

Next up, the National League Cy Young Award: lincecum.jpg

Camp Tiger Claw:

1. Tim Lincecum
2. Johan Santana
3. Brad Lidge

Also, closer than you might think. WHIP, ERA, CG, OBA were all neck and neck, but Timmy struck out 60 more guys in 7 less innings. Efficiency is key here. Brad Lidge gets third place, mainly because the vaunted Diamondback 1-2 shit the bed and I don't want to reward Dusty Baker's use of pitchers by voting for Volquez.

Also, Screw K-Rod.




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Rob Iracane:

1. Johan Santana
2. Tim Lincecum
3. Cole Hamels

Please ignore win-loss records for starting pitchers. They are not really that important when judging the ability of a pitcher. Teams sometimes play bad defense, have problems fielding, or employ bullpens that explode on contact. None of these three gentlemen approached the win total of Brandon Webb yet they all threw more innings and struck out more batters while allowing fewer hits.

Wins do have some meaning, though, as Santana singlehandedly kept the Mets in the conversation for the second half of the year. Throw out the offensive contributions of Carloses Delgado and Beltran; without Santana, the Mets would just be another also-ran like the Braves. How good was Santana? His last bad start came on July 17th, after which he didn't lose a single game. The other three pitchers I mentioned lost ten games combined after that point, while Santana won eight games by himself.

Lincecum led the league in innings and beat the Dodgers in his only two starts against them, his first and his last of the season. He deserves mention for simply doing what Giants fans want out of him. Hamels had a rough stretch where he didn't win a game for 45 straight days but collected two complete game shutouts while fronting the rotation for a division winner. Honorable mention goes to Brad Lidge for being perfect.

Your Walkoff Walk Dabbleboard for the day is ready to be graffitoed. Put your Basquiat hat on and get rarin'.

sunrise.jpg

Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

  • Who is more despicable, Manny Ramirez or Tim McCarver? We may not know everything that goes on behind the scenes with Manny and his presumed lack of effort with the Sox, but we know everything that goes on in the booth with McCarver because he can't shut his fat mouth. Says McCarver about Manny, "But some of the things he did were simply despicable, despicable -- like not playing, refusing to play. Forgetting what knee to limp on. And now it's washed, it's gone." All bullshit, all secondhand stories that he heard, all completely inconsequential. Facts are facts: Manny produced for the Red Sox offensively before he was traded and McCarver's brain is made up of 50% horse manure. Mute your TV's tonight, folks, and put on the radio.

  • How much does T.J. Simers hate Philadelphia? Probably not much at all, despite his attack piece in the L.A. Times. Simers is just another shock columnist whose only skill is promoting negativity to earn readers. Well, T.J., congrats, because you got me to link to your poorly-written column. Says Simers, "It's an angry place, all right, everything old here in Philadelphia, crumbling and in ruin. Even the city's main attraction has a crack in it." God, that is hack.

  • Have you tired of all the Charlie Manuel/Manny Ramirez articles yet? Like this one? If not, please re-read item #1 and mute your goddamn TV tonight.

  • How bad is this movie going to be? The steep career descent of Al Pacino has reached its nadir. The only redeeming aspect of a Lasorda biopic will be if they recreate the 'swirly move'.

  • How awesome is this library? It's the third happiest place on Earth, after Disney World and Las Vegas. Knowledge is sexy!

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (6)
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Hey kids, any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one.

That's all for us today. Stop by and see us tomorrow. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.

James Shields gets the nod for Game One, followed by Kazmir, Garza, and Sonnanstine. (MLB.com)

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With the postseason stuck in that lull between the Division Series and the League Championship Series, we here at Walkoff Walk thought it would be a good time to assault our readers' eyes and brains with some award posts. We proudly present The First Annual Walkoff Walk Dot Com Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence sponsored in part by nobody because we don't get paid a damn thing to do this website. It's a labor of love.

For the NL and AL Managers of the Year, Camp Tiger Claw made such good choices that I've decided to reward him with his own post on the subject. Also, two posts on this topic would have been Boringtown, USA. He spent minutes and minutes researching stats and whatnot to make these important decisions. Please consider his opinions and then feel free to express your own in the comment section. joemaddon.JPG

AL Manager Of The Year

1. Joe Maddon
2. Terry Francona
3. Ozzie Guillen

Maddon turned the Bad News Bears into the Beasts of the East. He did it all with a cosmopolitan flair that hasn't been seen in sports since Elvis Costello divorced a wife a few miles from a soccer stadium.

Terry Francona dealt with an assload of injuries and the Manny debacle and got into the playoffs. Again. Ozzie Guillen didn't get fired.

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NL Manager Of The Year

1. Lou Piniella
2. Charlie Manuel
3. Joe Torre

Forget what you know about the playoffs. These are regular season awards. The Cubs cruised like no one else in baseball. With a patchwork rotation and an oft injured star outfielder. Grumpy done good.

Charlie Manuel managed to temper expectations during a terrible start and do all if it without ever speaking English. Joe Torre asked Hank Steinbrenner how his ass taste, and actually decided to win the NL West over those lousy last two months.

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For fifty-five years, the Dodgers played their spring training games at Holman Stadium in sunny Vero Beach, Florida. Holman, at the intersection of Jackie Robinson Avenue and Pee Wee Reese Boulevard, was part of a complex called Dodgertown. Many Brooklyn transplants attended games during the winter months to see their beloved Bums knock around the ol' baseball. Heck, the Dodgers were so intertwined in Vero Beach that there's even a school named Dodgertown Elementary School.

In 2009, the Dodgers are packing their bags and moving to Glendale, Arizona, whose new ballpark will become their new spring training locale. It's got double the fan capacity, lots of new bells 'n' whistles, and it's a heckuva lot closer to L.A. Still, the Dodgers will be sharing this facility with the Chicago White Sox, so what will become of the Dodgertown name? Simple, it's headed to Los Angeles:

With the Dodgers in the running for the World Series, the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution calling for federal legislation to rename the area around Dodger Stadium "Dodgertown."

The resolution calls for the postmaster general to redraw a ZIP Code boundary encompassing 276 acres of Dodgers property between Academy Road to the north, Lookout Drive to the south, Stadium Way to the west and skirting the parking lot to Academy Road to the east.

"It will provide us with a different way of celebrating a major institution that does so much for the community," said City Councilman Ed Reyes, who represents the area. "We're in the running to represent the National [League] and -- keep your fingers crossed -- we could be in" the World Series.

The good folks at Baseball Think Factory point out that Councilman Reyes originally said that the Dodgers were in the running to represent the National "Division". Perhaps Reyes is too busy thinking about all the future tax revenue that he could care less about proper terminology:

The Dodgertown initiative coincides with a $500-million makeover expected to be completed by the stadium's 50th anniversary in 2012. Once complete, Reyes said Dodgertown would indeed look like "a little town," with a promenade, restaurants, shopping and a museum.

Oh that sounds so consarn elegant and completely natural. It's just like Main Street USA! How cute!

Our pal 'Duk over at Big League Stew shared this with the sportsblogosphere yesterday. Back in 1981, the World Champion L.A. Dodgers (specifically, Jerry Reuss, Jay Johnstone, Rick Monday and Steve Yeager) took to the mikes on the teevee variety show Solid Gold to sing "We Are the Champions". It's cringe-tastic!


If the Dodgers win the whole bowl of potatoes this year, I fully expect James Loney, Derek Lowe, Matt Kemp, and Jeff Kent to go on the Carson Daly show and sing their rendition of Kanye's "Champion". There can be no other way.

It'll be Dice-K in the opener, followed by Beckett, Lester, and Wakefield. (AP)

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With the postseason stuck in that lull between the Division Series and the League Championship Series, we here at Walkoff Walk thought it would be a good time to assault our readers' eyes and brains with some award posts. We proudly present The First Annual Walkoff Walk Dot Com Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence sponsored in part by nobody because we don't get paid a damn thing to do this website. It's a labor of love.

We've split up our choices into two sections, one for each of us. We've spent minutes and minutes research stats and whatnot to make these important decisions. Please consider our opinions and then feel free to express your own in the comment section.

Next up, the National American League Cy Young Award:

Rob Iracane: royhalladay.jpg

1. Roy Halladay
2. Cliff Lee
3. Jon Lester

Lee was dominant from April to September, posting low walks totals and allowing few tater tots. He led the league in wins and WHIP while giving Indians fans the only real reason to wake up in the morning during a rocky year. He'd probably earn this award in most years, but Halladay outpitched him with more innings, more strikeouts, more complete games, and a better beard.

Most importantly, Doc did his work in the tough AL East, beating the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees multiple times each. Lee beat up on the Royals and Tigers of the world. Lee had just seven wins against teams with winning records while Halladay had thirteen. The two pitchers were close enough in stats and gumption for me to take a look at their strength of opponents. Simply put, it's more impressive to shut down the Boston Red Sox three times than it is to beat the Kansas City Royals five times.

Lester was the ace of the Red Sox and even threw one of them magical no-hitters. He's an easy #3 choice on my ballot. Honorable mention goes to Mariano Rivera for posting the best season of any reliever and perhaps the best season of his career.



Camp Tiger Claw: clifflee.jpg

1. Cliff Lee
2. Roy Halladay
3. Jon Lester

Not a runaway like the eventual voting will be. Roy Halladay is certainly my favorite Non-Red Sox player in all of baseball. I wanted to give him this one but Lee's season was just better. He kept the ball in the yard better than Doc. You kept waiting for the bottom to drop out but it never did. In 31 starts the Indians went 24-7. In six of those seven losses they hit like dead retarded gerbils. Halladay's throw back style and express train two hour starts endeared him to the hearts of purists.

Jon Lester was a bit more consistent than John Danks who could have snuck into third. Screw K-Rod.

Your Walkoff Walk Playoff Dabbleboard for the day is open for business. It's like Colorforms, except far less exciting.

acrylicaward.jpg

With the postseason stuck in that lull between the Division Series and the League Championship Series, we here at Walkoff Walk thought it would be a good time to assault our readers' eyes and brains with some award posts. We proudly present The First Annual Walkoff Walk Dot Com Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence sponsored in part by nobody because we don't get paid a damn thing to do this website. It's a labor of love.

We've split up our choices into two sections, one for each of us. We've spent minutes and minutes research stats and whatnot to make these important decisions. Please consider our opinions and then feel free to express your own in the comment section.

First up, the National League Most Valuable Player:

Camp Tiger Claw: pujols.jpg

1. Albert Pujols
2. Lance Berkman
3. Chase Utley

Bert OPS'd at 1.100. Bert came within a hairs breadth of having two BBs for every K. Bert hit 37 HR which would have led the AL. BERT'S SEASON WAS IN JEOPARDY IN CAMP BECAUSE OF AN ELBOW PROBLEM.

Berkman and Utley both had stellar first halves that were so big they made their second halves pale in comparison. Still great #s across the board.




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Rob Iracane:

1. Albert Pujols
2. Lance Berkman
3. Chipper Jones

If any BBWAA voter doesn't have Pujols atop their ballots, they should be kicked out of the club. Wait, nevermind, I don't really care about for whom the writers vote. I could go off on a rant here, but instead let me focus my energy towards Mr. Pujols. He outslugged everyone else in the league by 60 points. He nearly matched Jones' on base percentage while amassing over 100 more plate appearances. He walked almost twice as much as he struck out. He played first base better than anyone else in the National League. Not only did he outperform everyone else in the league, he even set a career high in OPS+ with 190. If I had a ballot, I'd write Pujols' name down on every single line.

Berkman was probably the best hitter in the NL up until mid-June but faded towards the end of the season just as his mediocre team was staging a miraculous hot streak. Chipper flirted with hitting .400 but came up short; still, he won the batting title and bagged at least a dozen ten-point bucks and a handful of wild hogs.

Honorable mention goes to Hanley Ramirez who is easily the best middle infielder in the majors, and even figured out how to use his glove this year. Only 22 errors, Ma!

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Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

  • Will today be the day we learn the starting rotations for the LCS teams? So far, we know that Derek Lowe and Cole Hamels will start Game One of the NLCS tomorrow night. We'll probably see Brett Myers take the mound for the Phils in Game Two. Past that point, it's a mystery. With Jon Lester pitching Monday night for the Red Sox, it's most likely he'll be pushed to Game Two or even Game Three, so he'd come up again in the rotation for Game Seven. The Rays have no true ace with Scott Kazmir struggling over the last month or so, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Kazmir pitch in the opener.

  • Will any road teams win in the NLCS? Yesterday, I posed the same question about the ALCS, completely forgetting that the Phillies and the Dodgers split their eight head-to-head matchups this season, with each team winning four at home. However, Dodger Stadium and Citizens Bank Park don't have the same imposing cachet as the Trop or Fenway; there are no cowbells and there are no wonky outfield walls in either park. I wouldn't be surprised to see both teams win a road game.

  • How annoyed will I get with every mention of past NLCS matchups between the Phillies and Dodgers? Very.

  • Where will Corey Patterson be playing next year? I don't know but it ain't the Reds.

  • How will Walkoff Walk fill the next two days of baseball blogging? With our postseason award posts, y'all.
linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • San Francisco Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier wants organizers of the SF Italian American parade to nix Tommy Lasorda as grand marshal. Not because he used to manage the Dodgers, but because he ate all the zeppoles last year. San Fran Chronicle.

  • A San Diego Padres cake, and it's lovely enough to avoid being called a Cake Wreck. Still, it probably tastes like Brian Giles' taint. Gaslamp Ball.

  • The hamburger fatty melt is a hamburger served between two grilled cheese sandwiches. Baseball beat writers everywhere are salivating. A Hamburger Today.

  • Billy the Marlin didn't make the Mascot Hall of Fame despite enormous support from the fans. Somehow, he lost out to Rocky, the Denver Nuggets mascot, and Slider, of the Cleveland Indians, whoever they are. Fish Stripes.

  • Mike Piazza will be part of an expert roundtable on VH1's new "That Metal Show" show tomorrow night. It's like a combination of "Your Show of Shows", "Headbangers Ball" and "Antiques Roadshow". Mets Blog sponsored by GEICO.

  • Not everyone is supportive of Brian Cashman returning to the Yankees. Squawking Baseball.

  • Cubs fans are creating a shrine to their team's futility. Chicago Sun Times.

  • Monkey waiters! Boing Boing.

Did you ever think you'd see the day when a Martha Stewart video made its way to Walkoff Walk?


What do you expect, it's the lull between playoff rounds and we are Lazy Baseball Bloggers. Don't forget, Walkoff Walk is your go-to site for babies dressed up as other things.

HOLY CRAP IT'S LIVING FOODBABIES! RUN AWAY!

(We owe a baby in an enormous Coke bottle to Serious Eats)

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How bored are Diamondbacks fans right about now? Their favorite team is sitting out of the playoffs because they were simply too mediocre to overcome a slightly less mediocre Dodgers team and playoff baseball just doesn't have that same feel when it's still 95 degrees out at 7PM. Don't worry, Snakes supporters, you can still compete in postseason fun...just enter the Diamondbacks pumpkin carving contest!

Kids, carve a pumpkin that best represents the Diamondbacks team to enter the contest. No, drawing a sad face on a pumpkin with a Sharpie, sticking a butchers knife into the side, putting a note that says "YOU" on it and leaving it on Bob Melvin's porch is not going to help you win, but it's fun to try anyway.

A panel of D-backs judges will select a winner based on aesthetic value and use of D-backs branding. The winner will be featured on dbacks.com and receive an autographed D-backs jersey.

How exciting! They even provide a bunch of stencils to help you in carving your pumpkin! To help you help the Diamondbacks P.R. staff promote the Diamondback brand! Don't forget to make sure your Diamondbacks branding has aesthetic value because the Diamondbacks are going to reuse your contest entry in their own promotions! Employing fan participation is the cheapest labor of all! And what the heck is this thing!

(We owe some pumpkin-flavored Sprite to AZ Snakepit)

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Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

  • What was Mike Scioscia thinking last night? Whether you'd like to start with the suicide squeeze call or his decision to leave Scot Shields in the game after giving up a couple hard hit balls, you can question Scioscia from now until April 1st and he won't care. In the top of the ninth with a runner on second and no outs, Scioscia played for one run (which makes absolute sense) but called for an extremely risky suicide squeeze against a good infield defense. Why not let Aybar swing away there?

  • Who predicted B.J. Upton was going to hit two dingers in the Rays clincher? Not me, not anyone. Kid had just nine homers all season long and started these playoffs with an 0-for-5 against Javy Vazquez and Clayton Richard. The Rays are deeper offensively than we had expected and with that bullpen that blew opposing hitters away all year long, it's going to be a tough row to hoe for the Red Sox.

  • How much fun did the Rays have in the clubhouse? They had a bukkakke party for the ages, emptying the coolers of all the delicious BLt's and scrumptious champagne. Young Jonny Gomes even brought a bottle of tequila to the party, and manager Joe Maddon totally ate the worm.

  • Will any road teams win a game in the ALCS? Knowing that the Red Sox and Rays nearly split their season series down the middle, with each team winnings almost every home game, I'm going to say 'no'. If this one doesn't go to Game Seven, I'll eat my hat.

  • What are we supposed to do the next two nights? With no ALDS or NLDS Game Fives to watch, we're stuck catching up on our DVRs or...ugh...watching the Presidential town-hall-style debates. There's nothing else worth watching on Tuesday or Wednesday nights.

Worst of all, there are nearly 60 hours until the next liveglog.

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The Angels' backs are against the wall again at chilly Fenway on this Monday night of dueling ALDS Game Fours. This one is aces high: Jon Lester and John Lackey are on the battlefront armed with curveballs and fastballs. The air may be cold and sharp with the smells of autumn but these two pitchers are about as hot as they could get. In Game One, two roads diverged in the woods and they chose to take the awesome path, combining to make just one mistake: a Jason Bay two-run dong that made all the difference.

With the Rays just finishing off the creaky White Sox on a Ken Griffey strikeout, this Game Four will help decide which team will point their private plane towards St. Petersburg for some indoor baseball this weekend.

Will tonight be the night Dustin Pedroia gets off his hitless schneid? Can David Ortiz conjure up some old October rocketsauce? Is Francisco Rodriguez totally winded? Will Vladimir Guerrero reach down and out of the strike zone to turn a ball into a tater tot? Follow along with me after the jump for the liveglog of the century.

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This evening, the White Sox will do something at their own ballpark they haven't done in the past four home games: play the same team two days in a row. If you recall the end of the regular season, they beat the Indians on the last Sunday of the regular season to stave off elimination, the Tigers the next day in a makeup game, the Twins the next day in a tiebreaker game to win the AL Central, and the Rays yesterday to keep their hopes of advancing to the ALCS alive.

That's four must-win games and four wins. The Pale Hose hadn't won four straight home games against four different opponents since nineteen dickety-two when they toppled the New York Highlanders, the Cleveland Spiders, the Waffletown Syrups, and the Hackensack Bulls in four straight April games. Tonight is must-win game number five at US Cellular Field for the Sox, where they won an impressive 66% of their games during the regular season.

Gavin Floyd, who allowed just one run in six innings in that makeup win against the Tigers, will start for Chicago. He's never faced the Tampa Bay Rays but once gave up a ding-dong to Cliff Floyd while pitching for the Phillies. This has next to no bearing on tonight's contest, but the Freedom of Information Act demands that I share that nugget with you.

The Rays will send young Andy Sonnanstine out for battle. It's his playoff debut and, having thrown nearly 200 innings in only his second year in the majors, he might be a little tired. He hasn't won a game since August 18th. Still, he threw a complete game shutout against the ChiSox back in April but then was left with two no-decisions in two more starts against them where he allowed seven runs in twelve innings. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski had five hits in six 2008 at-bats against Sonnanstine while Jim Thome had a two-run dong off him back in August.

Expect Ozzie Guillen to slot Dewayne Wise in his lineup, maybe even as high up as the second slot where Wise batted for the last two weeks of the season. Expect Joe Maddon to put the lefty hitting Gabe Gross in right field and save Rocco Baldelli for some late inning pinch hittery. Expect us all to miss most of this game while we are commuting.

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Houston Astros pitcher Brandon Backe was among ten people arrested at a hotel pool bar at the San Luis Resort in Galveston, Texas over the weekend. It seems, however, that Backe was just a victim of circumstance in the wrong place at the wrong time. He and some pals were at the hotel bar after attending a wedding nearby when this went down:

The trouble started when a Galveston police officer approached 19-year-old Daniel Cole O'Balle about entering the pool bar area with an open container of alcohol. O'Balle took a "fighting stance" toward the officer, the report stated.

The officer attempted to arrest O'Balle, who then struck him in the upper chest with his fist and then hit another officer in the face.

While police attempted to handcuff O'Balle, others at the bar were also refusing commands from officers, escalating into a scene that police described as a riot, according to the report.

Backe was one of the folks told by police to back away from the scene; he refused and was punched in the face, slapped with handcuffs, and charged with "resisting arrest, search and transportation by using force against an officer". Sounds like trumped up charges to me. Who amongst us hasn't gotten a little too drunk at a wedding and ignored the pleas of riot police? Amirite? Also taken into custody: FEMA coordinator Jaime Forero. Doin' a heckuva job, Forero!

The fuzz ended up using a Taser on O'Balle and his 46-year-old father Gilbert while spraying pepper spray at just about everyone in the bar. The Galveston Police Force: on your side since 1936!

(We owe a gallon of Coke syrup to BBTF's Newsblog)

sunrise.jpg

Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

Two NL Division Series ended this weekend as the Cubs were swept away by the Dodgers and the Brewers were sent packing by the Phillies. Meanwhile, the Angels and White Sox both stayed alive with game three wins that ensure we'll have playoff baseball tonight. To the questions 'n' answers:

  • Which Dodger or Phillie did the most heavy lifting in bringing a series win to their team? James Loney collected just three hits in the series but was responsible for six RBI that fell in the right places. His game one king dong stunned Ryan Dempster and his game three first-inning double off Rich Harden plated two runners and set up the Dodgers for the sweep behind Hiroki Kuroda. Is Loney the best hitter on the team? Not by a long shot. Is he clutch? No, there's no such thing as clutch. Should he be lauded for his bigtime hits? Absolutely. Some Swedish dude even started a band in his honor. Runner-up: Cole Hamels

  • Which Cub or Brewer did the most damage to their team's hopes and dreams? Alfonso Soriano went 1-for-14 with four strikeouts in the leadoff spot for the Cubs. Despite the fact that he's not really a good choice for Lou Piniella to pencil in for the #1 spot every game, he really had an especially awful three game stretch. It's bad form for me to single out Soriano when the entire Cub team fell flat on their faces (hitting, pitching, fielding, managing, peanut-vending) but I'm sure Cub Country appreciates a tidy scapegoat to point fingers at. Runner-up: Prince Fielder

  • How happy are the Red Sox that their extra off-day during their playoff series allowed them to start Jon Lester in Game Four? Very. Kid's on his normal four days rest and I wouldn't be surprised to see him throw a 27 strikeout perfect game against a sadsack Angel team that struggled to put together five runs despite having like 80 runners reach base last night. Hurt or not, Josh Beckett is no longer your ace, Red Sox Nation. Jon Lester is made of some sort of magic.

  • How about that Dewayne Wise? Kid finally got a chance to start yesterday against righty Matt Garza and he came through with a big two-run double to put the ChiSox up 4-1, a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored. Combined with his Game One performance, he's 2-for-5 with a double, a homer, and five RBI. Where do you think the left-handed hitter will be in the lineup tonight against the righty Andy Sonnanstine? Second?

  • Will you come back tonight as we glog the Angels - Red Sox game? Even if the game goes five hours (like it did last night), we'll be liveglogging the entire thing, and that's a Walkoff Walk promise to you.

Stay tuned for more baseball-y stuff all day.

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Ailing ace Josh Beckett takes the mound at friendly Fenway with the possibility of advancing his Red Sox to the ALCS and sweeping a 100+ win Angel team outta the playoffs. Nothing is etched in bronze yet, still this series proves how unimportant regular season win totals are in the postseason. After all, both the Red Sox and Angels allowed just under 700 runs during the proscribed 162 contests yet the Boston boppers managed to outscore the apathetic Angels by nearly half a run per game. You had to see this one coming.

Anaheim counters with Joe Saunders, another one of their starters with a gaudy win-loss record and not much else. Dude just didn't strike out enough batters to make up for his mediocre walk rate and tater rate. What Joe Saunders has going for him are two appearances versus the Sox at Fenway in aught-eight where he won twice and allowed five runs in 12 innings. His biggest mistake was giving up a two-run dong to Coco Crisp in July, a game the Angels still won 9-2 in defeating Beckett.

Enough chatter. J.D. Drew sits tonight to rest his weary back in favor of the aforementioned Crisp. (mmmm....aforementioned crisps...) Mike Lowell is back at third base, and your playoff glog starts après le saut:

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Thanks to an RBI single by Akinori Iwamura, the Rays are ahead 1-0 as the third inning gets underway. Down 2-0 in the series, the only thing that's getting the White Sox crowd at the Cell excited is a pigeon on the field. Sorry fans, but the Pale Hose offense needs to fly a little bit if they're going to sidestep the sweep and send this series to the second game on the South Side. Suckers.

Come back here around 7:27PM EDT if you want to participate in a Red Sox - Angels liveglog. I'll be your glogmeister and the pigeon will be your entertainment.

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Mike Scioscia's powder keg offense didn't do much against Boston's Jon Lester in Game One of the ALDS, managing to score but one run against the Red Sox ace. Coach Mike is not gonna sit on his hands and wait for things to happen though, he's promising change right away for tonight's Game Two matchup in Anaheim:

"We're considering a few things," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said before Thursday's workout at Angel Stadium. "The core of our lineup will remain the same. We have a lot of confidence in what our guys can do on the offensive side."

Scioscia declined to state what the changes would be other than (Ervin Santana's personal catcher Jeff) Mathis will replace Mike Napoli as catcher.

Conventional wisdom says that Scioscia is going to sit down right fielder Gary Matthews Jr, who went 0-for-3 with a misplayed fly ball in Game One's loss. Who might give the sagging Angels an offensive boost? None other than Kendry Morales!

Morales, a switch-hitter, started at designated hitter against (Daisuke) Matsuzaka last October in Game 2 of the ALDS. He also pinch-hit against closer Jonathan Papelbon in Game 1 on Wednesday and lined a hard single to right field.

Eek, the Angels are trying to get an offensive boost from someone who spent most of the season in Triple A Salt Lake City? Didn't the Angels trade for Mark Teixeira to get a little offensive boost? Worst of all, they're facing a pitcher tonight whose only fault has been his tendency to issue too many walks, while the Angels biggest fault has been a tendency to swing at too many pitches outside the strike zone. That combination is about as dangerous for Anaheim as the time Gay Day at Disneyland coincided with Dropped Change Day.

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After two home team wins in Philadelphia, the Brewers and Phillies are on their way to sunny Wisconsin for the first baseball playoff game in Milwaukee since the halcyon days of 1982. You remember 1982, right? When "Happy Days" was a hit TV show on ABC and Bob Uecker was the best beer salesman in all the land? Fast-forward to 2008, where the New York Times has dubbed Milwaukee's Fonzie statue the "most photographed statue in the city" and Mr. Uecker is lucky enough to throw out the first pitch in tomorrow's game. Plus ça change...

The Brewers may be down two games to none in the series but things aren't as bad as they seem. After all, the Phillies have only scored in two of sixteen innings against Brewers pitching. While starters CC Sabathia and Yovani Gallardo have taken a collective dump on the mound at CBP, allowing nine walks in just over seven combined innings, the Milwaukee bullpen has thrown 8 1/3 scoreless innings against a tough Philly lineup.

But with Ben Sheets inactive, the Brewers are stuck sending Dave Bush to the mound in Game 3. Bush faced the Phils twice this year, earned two no-decisions, and gave up four tater tots in 12 innings. Pat Burrell has faced Bush 14 times in his career and hit three homers. Ryan Howard and Pedro Feliz have hit two homers apiece off Bush. Chase Utley has a 1.532 OPS against Bush. Even the Phanatic laced a double to the gap in Bush's last start against Philly.

On the flipside, Jamie Moyer faced the Brewers twice this season and went 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA. His one win came on three days' rest in the second week of September, part of a four-game sweep of the Brewers that helped Philly win the NL East.

Gametime is 6:30 EDT tomorrow. Expect an enthusiastically drunken crowd to show up at Miller Park and cheer like crazy people, up until the Brewers go down 5-0 in the second inning. At that point, the hangover will come faster than anyone expected and the festive atmosphere will devolve into a funerary feel.

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Dodgers beat writer and badass blogger Tony Jackson got the inside information on the Cubs travel plans after Game 2 of the NLDS ended last night. Turns out that instead of immediately hopping on the private plane to jet out to the coast, Lou PIniella and his team are going to get a good night's sleep at home first and then take a morning flight. Why? Because the Cubs organization consulted a sleep doctor. Makes perfect sense to me. As per Lou:

"He said we should stay overnight tonight instead of travel after the ballgame ... so that everybody can get their full balance of sleep as opposed to sleeping all day tomorrow and not being able to sleep the night after. We'll see if he is right or not after the third game."

Sounds like Piniella's nights are colored headache grey. Joe Torre's Dodgers, on the other hand, got the heck outta Chicago as soon as the game was over. They may be sleeping late after landing in the wee small hours of the morning, but after another huge road win in Wrigley, at least they (a) can get silly drunk on the plane with those miniature bottles of bourbon and (b) get to sleep in their own beds.

We'll have no way of knowing if this difference in sleep practices affects the outcome of Game Three, but the home field advantage may prove to be the difference anyway.

Update: things got worse for Fukudome this morning.

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Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

Three more baseball games on the second day of playoff baseball kept things going quite smoothly for some and made things far worse for others. It's a trend, people! Look, teams from the Central division are now 0-5 while teams from the East are 4-0. Is there something in the water supply between Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois that's making those three teams more prone to sucking? Amirite folks?

Late last night, the Dodgers toppled the Cubs to go up 2-0 in their series. During the daytime, the Rays outlasted the White Sox to take a 1-0 lead. And in between, the Phillies slammed CC Sabathia and the Brewers, earning a hearty 2-0 series lead.

To the questions! And answers!

  • Which player most contributed to his team's win? Lots of candidates today, but I'm going with Shane Victorino. Say what you want about Evan Longoria's pair of ding-dongs and 3 RBI against the ChiSox but Victorino's tetra tot was massively unexpected and so very important in ruining CC Sabathia's day. Don't forget, he also had two doubles, two stolen bases and a walk in the game. Runner-up: Longoria

  • Which player(s) most contributed to the opponent's win? As bad as Sabathia was (and there's a guy who really doesn't perform well in the playoffs), the Chicago Cubs infielders get the evil eye from me and every other baseball-blogger who picked them to advance to the World Series based on their strong team defense. Four errors? Really, Chicago Cubs infielders? That's how you reward my confidence in your defensive efficiency? Mark Derosa's oopsie in the second inning set up Dodgers catcher Russ Martin's big bases-clearing 3 RBI dubble. That put the Cubs in an early hole. They never found a ladder long enough to get out. Runner-up: Sabathia

  • Between the two NL Central teams, who is in less trouble? Despite leaving their comfort zone of Wrigley down 2-0, I still believe that the Cubs can win this series. Dick Harden and Ted Lilly need to use Dodger Stadium as their pitcher-friendly buddy and keep the Dodgers strong offense in check. Translation: don't pitch to Manny. Ever. As for the Cubs offense, maybe it's time for Sweet Lou to bench Fukudome, shift Derosa to the outfield and go with Mike Fontenot in the lineup.

  • Will the White Sox win any games at all?: Not if Tampa's pitching staff is keeping things down. Tater tots by Dewayne Wise and Paul Konerko led to all four of the White Sox runs. This weekend, Matt Garza and Scott Kazmir need to do whatever it is that pitchers do to prevent home runs from being hit. Perhaps use some witchcraft? I don't know. But if they are gonna give up ding-dongs, make 'em solo dongs.

  • Which television announcing team has impressed you the most so far? I haven't had a chance to listen to Don Orsillo and Hal Reynolds announce the Tampa/Chicago series, so I'm going to pick Chip Caray and Buck Martinez, who are handling the Boston/Anaheim series. Buck has that distinct voice that really says 'baseball' to me, while Chip isn't nearly as dumb as people claim him to be. Dick Stockton has also done well despite the nattering nabob Ron Darling sitting to his right. Overall, I couldn't be more pleased with the gentlemen that TBS has tabbed to call these games. Especially Sager.

No afternoon games today so there will be no afternoon liveglog.

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Day two of the playoffs begins with the first ever postseason game for the Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa baseball has endured decades and decades of waiting for this one special moment, and it's finally here! Rob Schneider must be thrilled! Seriously folks, let's all stand up and put our hands together for the franchise that pulled theyselves up by they bootstraps to vault from durst to first.

Your pitchers today are righties James Shields and Javy Vazquez. Bet Ozzie is super-thrilled that Big Game Javy came up in his rotation for today. Still, he's 1-2 with a 3.54 ERA against the Rays on the year. In one start against the ChiSox, Shields pitched six innings and allowed just one run (an Alexei Ramirez ding-dong) but didn't factor in the decision. Dude was 9-2 at home, though, with just a 2.59 ERA.

What does this all mean for today? Absolutely nothing. It's the playoffs, and anything can happen! Except for a commissioner-issued exclusion that lets the Yankees participate at the last minute. That's not happening.

This glog happens after the jump:

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Congratulations to Walkoff Walk reader Chris Prior for winning our First Annual Prophecy of Mediocrity Contest. Chris picked just two of the six third-place teams correctly, which in retrospect, is a really decent .333 batting average. His decision to include the Rockies and A's was a fruitful one, and he came close with his Twins, Braves and Cardinals picks.

Three others tied with him (David Rose, Dr. Rock and joe2781) but Chris came the closest to the average number of wins for the six third place teams (81.83 was his guess, 81.5 was the correct number).

The most popular correct pick was the Rockies, with 14 of 34 entries nailing that one. In case you're having trouble remembering who finished in third, go check out the final standings.

Thirteen folks actually picked zero of the six teams correctly. In fact, the average entry had about 0.75 teams picked correctly. Nobody picked the Yankees or the Indians and only one entrant chose the Marlins. Worst of all was Afino who actually picked three division winners (Rays, White Sox, and Dodgers).

You can revisit the entries themselves or the digest form of the entries if you are Carl Curious.

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Actually, it's just a misdemeanor, but only when you throw the ball at the opposing team's left fielder. That's what Cubs fan Paul Solans (pictured, left) learned last night when he hurtled a baseball at Manny Ramirez during Chicago's 7-2 loss to the Dodgers.

Solans caught Dodgers home run and, instead of immediately throwing it back onto the field, attempted to throw it at Ramirez when the Dodgers returned to the field. Security guards "grabbed him" and turned him over to Chicago Police, police said.

Here's Paul's MySpace page, in which he has so cleverly dubbed himself Hercules Rockafeller. He should be executed just for that.

In what has become a ridiculous 'tradition' at ballparks around the country, baseball fans love to catch home run balls hit by the opponent and then throw 'em back onto the field. The crowd urges them on and cheers when the ball gets tossed; if the fan decides to keep the ball, he is showered with jeers and, sometimes, plastic Miller Lite bottles.

I don't understand the practice. If I ever caught a home run ball, I'd keep it regardless of who hit it. Throwing it back onto the field will either reward the visiting player who hit it if the ballboy decides to return it to the visitors dugout or reward some dumb kid who happens to be sitting along the foul line. And if one is going to throw a ball at Manny, AIM BETTER.

Correction: it was a warmup ball, not a home run ball. Still doesn't change my ridiculous opinions.

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Each morning during the playoffs, we'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked. This could be helpful and fun or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

Three baseball playoff games yesterday produced three winners and three losers. That's how it works, folks. The Brewers fell to the Phils 3-1 during afternoon play yesterday while the Red Sox toppled the Angels 4-1 late last night. In between, the Dodgers upset the Cubs, 7-2.

  • Which player most contributed to his team's win? Simple one to start. Cole Hamels allowed just three Brewers to reach base and struck out nine of 'em over eight innings of shutout ball. You can say that the Phillies got lucky on Utley's double that Cameron snowconed or that they barely survived the ninth, but Hamels easily wins the Most Bestest Player of Day One. Runner-up: James Loney (king dong).

  • Which player most contributed to the opponent's win? A little less simple. Still, when Ryan Dempster walked the bases loaded in the fourth before giving up a tetra tot to Loney, he basically looked like a schmuck with an ugly red beard. Kid ended up walking seven Dodgers in the game. I don't blame the Cubs faithful for showering him with a cavalcade of boos. Runner-up: Howie Kendrick (0-for-4, 6 LOB)

  • Which team that lost is in the least amount of trouble? The Angels may have lost home-field advantage but they're still playing a team that's beat up. They'll need to be patient against Dice-K on Friday night and that's tough for a team that finished with just a .330 OBP on the year.

  • Which team that won slept the best last night? The Dodgers really put themselves in a good position, taking a game on the road in dominant fashion. Best of all, they've got their best pitcher going tonight in Chad Billingsley. He might not be a groundballer like Lowe but he allowed just fourteen ding-dongs in 200 innings. If they can beat Zambrano today, it's lights out for Chi-town.

  • Which commercial is going to drive us the most insane? The T-Mobile ad where the father doesn't want his daughter talking to the gentleman with a mustache and a Mustang. I want that entire family to die in a nuclear attack.

Join us later today when we liveglog the White Sox and Rays at 2:30PM.

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Oh my goodness, the playoffs are here! I feel so unprepared! I haven't had a chance to vacuum or sweep up the porch or anything! No matter, I suppose. We'll just take this liveglog down into my rec room, where you can spill beer and drop peanut shells on the garish industrial flooring without a second thought. That's what the wet/dry vac is for.

So our first tussle of the postseason pits the Philadelphia Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers against each other in the first of a winner-takes-all series. Lefty stud Cole Hamels will face recently healed Yovani Gallardo; the lineups can be found on the MLB live page. Milwaukee is going with their standard "all righties except Prince Fielder" lineup while the Phillies counter with their standard "lineup". Yes, Pat Burrell's back problems weren't bad enough to keep the dude on the bench.

It's cloudy and about 70 degrees in Philly today; if you're at the ballpark reading this on your iPhone, please provide us with infrequent weather updates and Phanatic sightings. Thanks.

Your first playoff glog starts...after the jump:

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Brewers vs. Philies: There's only so far a team can ride one pitcher, especially when he won't appear until the second game of the series on three days' rest for the fifteenth consecutive start. Besides, Bob Uecker rejected our request that he pen our Brewers preview. So it's gotta be Philadelphia in 3.

Dodgers vs. Cubs: I really like the Dodgers rotation and their offensive prowess of late and all the good stuff that comes with Joe Torre's inspirational dago influence on the Los Angeles area, but defense wins championships, and the Dodgers play defense like retarded squirrels. Therefore, Chicago in 5.

Red Sox vs. Angels: Winning 100 games just ain't what it used to be. The Anaheim team is built on a foundation of porridge and frozen guacamole. David Ortiz prefers the fresh kind, made at tableside at Dos Caminos. Mark Teixeira is nice but Kevin Youkilis shits bigger than him, three times a day. Lots of soluble fiber! Good avocados everywhere choose Boston in 3.

White Sox vs. Rays: This one's not even close. The best team in the playoffs versus the worst? Tampa Bay in 3.

NLCS: I would like to see 120 runs scored in a single postseason series. Our best hopes for that would be Cubs over Phillies in 7

ALCS: Four of the best ten teams in baseball played in the AL East this season. Two were left out of the playoffs entirely. The other two will win every single game at their home park. It's Rays over Red Sox in 7.

World Series: The Cubs put together the strongest team Kevin Kaduk has ever seen. Shame that it will all go down the drain at the hands of some two-bit expansion team. Tampa Bay in 7.

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To mark the momentous occasion that is the 2008 Playoffs we asked a couple of esteemed guest writers to talk about their favorite team's chances this postseason. Harry Kalas and Mike Schmidt were unavailable, so we recruited Matt P of The 700 Level to pen this preview. Please to enjoy:.

Nothing Like the Smell of Unanimity in the Morning: By nearly all accounts, the Phillies are the favorite to win the NLDS series with the Brewers. In Philadelphia, we unanimously see this as more of a curse than an accurate prediction. Ten out ten ESPN headshots pick the Phillies? Ah shit.

If History Tells Us Anything: With very little faith in augury, I usually look to past experience as an indicator of future outcomes. Problem is, we have conflicting data in this case. When they last met, the Phillies swept the Crew in a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park just over two weeks ago. The series loss was so devastating that the Brewers up and overreacted, firing manager Ned Yost. So, that's probably in the Phillies favor.

But if you look further back, at the Phillies' last showing in the playoffs, the picture gets a little fuzzy. After leapfrogging the Mets to win the East in 2007, the Phils shat the proverbial bed against the Rockies in the NLDS, with just about nothing in the way of offensive production. We'd like to chalk that up as the detriment of October inexperience, something the Brewers now face, but we've seen that offensive absolute zero rear its head for several stretches this season. We also can't get too hung up on that mid-September sweep. The first two pitchers the Phillies face this week didn't chuck in that series, and one of them happens to be the most dominant starter in baseball over the second half. CC Sabathia will face Brett Myers, who also had a great second half, including a CG gem against the Brewers, but he has been battered in recent appearances. Just my luck, the tickets I have for this series are for Game 2, Myers vs. Sabathia. Still, with CC on 3 days rest again, the Philllies need to be able to win that game.

Doctor Says I Need a Bachiotomy: The developing storyline in Philly is that in Tuesday's BP, Pat Burrell experienced some discomfort in his back. The severity still isn't known, but there's a chance the Phils will be without him to start the series. The Bat would be missed more than his .205 September average might indicate; the only time the Phillies have faced Brewers' game 1 starter Yovani Gallardo, they managed only one run, a solo shot by Mr. Burrell. I think he plays though. I woke up with some back discomfort, and you don't see me not blogging. All I'm sayin.

The Strength No One Saw Coming: Speaking of the folly of predictions, in early April, I don't think anyone saw the Phillies bullpen as the biggest factor in repeating as NL East Champs. But while the Mets blew save opps like johns in Queens alleyways, the Phillies' late-inning crew was among the best in baseball. They weren't all perfect down the stretch, but Brad Lidge has been, converting 41 saves in as many opportunities, earning him the Hey, Didn't You Used to Suck? award.

With Eric Gagne getting off to a hairy, Failing start, Salomon Torres did a decent job after replacing him as closer for much of the season. But he hasn't been lights-out--certainly not in the past month, when he's posted an 8.53 ERA and a WHIP over 2.00. Just as it's been for most of 2008, the bullpen looks to be a distinct advantage for the Phillies in this series. Mr. 41 for 41 needs to stay perfect, because I really don't feel like hearing the massive amount of "He waited til the playoffs to blow his first save" coverage.

The Weakness We Didn't Know Was Possible: What shocked Phillie-ans even more than the dominant bullpen was the way the once formidable offense just died once inter-league play started. Their flacid performances continued for what seemed like forever, although with familiar NL competition, they resumed winning more than they lost. They're hotter now than they were for much of the season though, and it's all about timing your streak. Chase Utley, at one point considered the top premature MVP candidate, disappeared at the plate for months, but has played solidly of late. WIth his horrific performance in the 2007 NLDS, we're wondering which Chase shows up for this series. Fortunately, this year's Aaron Rowand Award goes to Jayson Werth, who has taken his game way up, earning him just about full playing time. Shane Vic is feeling it too, at the plate, on the basepaths, and in the field.

Because Mr. [Month] Designations Never Get Old: Any time a ballplayer has an outstanding hitting stretch over the course of a calendar month, you can be sure we'll all invoke Reggie and assign that month to the slugger. Like, A-Rod being Mr. April, for instance. This year, despite Mendoza-level averages for the early portion of the season, Ryan Howard has maintained his power totals. A late-season surge has brought his average up to .250, and the homers and ribbies are far and away the best in the bigs. The Brewers will have their hands full with Mr. September's girth.

Predictions: Ten ESPN employees can't be wrong. The Phils win this series, and it might be a sweep. They need to start by winning with their ace on the hill, with Colbert Hamels facing Gallardo at 3PM today. Next, CC's been a god, but I'm reminded that previously, the playoffs haven't really been his thing. Still, there's a better than 50% chance the Brewers win at least one, with Game 2 being the most likely opportunity. Mostly because I'll have taken a half day from work to be there. If Brett can't keep up, Charlie will probably publicly argue with him on the mound, while JA Happ waits to get some warm-ups in. After that... he may be getting AARP letters, but Jamie Moyer is still a decidedly effective and winning pitcher, and I think he controls Game 3, leaving it in the hands of the Phillies bats. If a Game 4 is necessary, word around town is that the Phils will roll the dice with Joe "No Decision" Blanton. He probably won't win the game for the Phils, but there's a good chance he won't blow it such that they can't just outslug the Brewers.

After Milwaukee, the Phils will get either a Dodgers team that they traded 4-game sweeps with in the second half, or the Cubs. The Cubs are everyone's NL favorite, but the Phillies matched up fairly well with them in their most recent series, taking two of four at Wrigley, and handing the Cubs their two wins. Plus, the Cubs are one of the few teams more cursed than the Phils. If, praise Jeebus, the Phillies get to the World Series, I may have to un-lapse my Catholicism, because our boys have been horrid against the AL. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Cole's on the hill today.

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To mark the momentous occasion that is the 2008 Playoffs we asked a couple of esteemed guest writers to talk about their favorite team's chances this postseason. Brewers bloggers must hate us because none of them replied to our emails. You're stuck with a Phillies supporter writing this preview, buster.

So, the Brewers. First postseason appearance in twenty-six years. Good for them. Bob Uecker must be absolutely gushing. Bud Selig too, that old coot. Shame about Ned Yost though, right? Okay, enough small talk. Still, if there's one thing for the Milwaukee organization to be proud of is that they fielded a playoff team and managed to sell almost 90% of their tickets for the year. This is a business after all, and with 3+ million fans coming through the turnstiles to cheer their team and drink some suds, Mark Attanasio should be saluted for making 2008 a success before the first playoff pitch is thrown.

How's that Ben Sheets-less starting rotation going to hold up? Yovani Gallardo, Dave Bush, and Jeff Suppan combined don't strike enough fear into the hearts of Phillies hitters as one CC Sabathia. In limited appearances, the Phils have merely a .568 OPS against CC. The Brewers need to push two Sabathia starts to the middle of the table and figure out a way to win a third game. Simple!

The Brewers corps of seven hitters (Braun, Fielder, Hardy, Weeks, Cameron, Hart, Kendall) have a tidy .797 OPS and 152 collective ding-dongs, but they have also combined for 772 strikeouts. I don't know what this means, but the Brewers scored a pedestrian 4.63 runs per game and have gone through stretches of the season where their offense was about as productive as a neutered labradoodle. That won't help against the Phils, especially if the lefty Hamels can figure out a way to shut down the righty-laden Brewers lineup.

Bullpen: Salomon Torres saved some games and blew others. He is by no means a shutdown closer dude but as long as his name doesn't rhyme with Schmeric Schmagne, he'll do just fine. The rest of the MIlwaukee pen? Yecch.

INTANGIBLES: NONE

Manager: Dale Sveum should focus on not fucking up royally. He's just in the right place at the right time and will possibly never ever get another chance to manage a playoff team. Make the moves everyone is expecting you to make, Dale, and don't overwork Sabathia too much. Yankees pitchers and catchers report in four months!

Best possible outcome: Losing to the Cubs in a seven-game NLCS and shaming themselves with too much MGD Light. They can beat the Phillies in five but they don't have the wherewithall to topple either the Dodgers or the Cubs in a long series.

And yes, I'll be liveglogging the Phillies-Brewers tussle at 3PM sharp.

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To mark the momentous occasion that is the 2008 Playoffs we asked a couple of esteemed guest writers to talk about their favorite team's chances this postseason. One of the biggest White Sox fans we know lives in England. Old England, not that fancy, imitation 'New' England. Here's Michael S. with his take on the Pale Hose's chances.

Brian Anderson's great catch in Centre Field signified the end of a long struggle but started something far more important. Coming into the season no one expected the Sox (or the Twinkies) to be in Central contention but they overcame some difficulties throughout. Whether it be Bullpen blowups, Ozzie going mental at the offense in Tampa, Canadian "Dolls" or The MVP of the team (and perhaps the American League) breaking a tooth while biting a bat/smashing his wrist up a little bit which thankfully Paulie covered by getting hot at the right time and Alexei going Tetra-tot-tastic.

The starting pitching, apart from an unreliable Javy Vazquez, has held up well throughout the season and John Danks would certainly had more wins had anyone else had the Sox been able to hit the ball early in the season. Gavin Floyd has shown why he was picked fourth overall by Phillies in 2001 and Mark Buehrle got his act together after getting lit up early in the season once again going over 218 innings. Going into the postseason things don't change much with the pitching as it has been a four man rotation for the best part of the month. Javy will be the key though. He must be one of the most irritating pitchers ever, he can hold someone hitless through 5 with a bunch of strikeouts and then give up about 5 runs. He must get the Sox off to a good start in St Pete and at least get through some innings with only 3 reliable arms in the bullpen. They've got Big Bad Bobby Jenks, Joe Thornton and Scott Linebrink who each looked good against the Tigers although they seemed to be a bit half-arsed about it.

As has been constantly well publicised by Harold Reynolds, the Sox rely on the Home Run to get some offense. This is never a given in the postseason against the games best pitchers but the Sox have shown signs of getting hot at the right time similar to 2005 when they stumbled down the stretch before going 11-1 to win it all. To do it again this year it's going to be much tougher but if the middle of the order can all get going (and not hit into many Double Plays, honestly sometimes I'd prefer if they just struck out instead) then they have a chance. However, they'll have get it done again on the road (as they did in 2005), with their backs against the wall as they have done in the past 3 games against 3 different opponents. If they can get hot and get some momentum it'll have Chicagoans from Addison to 35th and Shields dreaming of a Crosstown Classic in The Series for the first time in 102 years.

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To mark the momentous occasion that is the 2008 Playoffs we asked a couple of esteemed guest writers to talk about their favorite team's chances this postseason. We don't know any Angels bloggers (or fans for that matter), so we recruited Phillas, one of our California commenters, to talk about a team that is geographically close to him. Please to enjoy.

For a hundred-win team, the Angels don't seem to get much notice. Sure, they've got some recognizable names, but really how many Angels games have you seen this season? Since they played the NL East during the interleague portion of the schedule, probably more than you recall.

The AL West was piss-poor: the second-place Rangers (!) were 79 'n 83, 21 games behind Los Angeles. Oakland and Seattle finished even worse. With no competition, and no story line to compete with the Central race or the Satan Rays, the Orange County club quietly cruised through the season, for better or worse.

The starting pitching really did kick ass, except for Weaver (but fuck him anyway). Still, things devolved somewhat: John Lackey had a 5.08 ERA over his last 10 games and Jon Garland was pitching more like Judy Garland with a 6.29 ERA in his last ten. Of course the big story was Francisco Rodriguez with his 62 saves and his 13 siblings. Only one of those numbers is an MLB record (as far as I know).

Anaheim's offense statistically was merely average for the American League. Mark Teixeira was pretty darn decent after coming over from the Braves. He had 13 HR's with 43 RBI's in 53 games for the club. Mad Vlad's 27 dingers were consistent with last year, but his best years are behind him.

Maicer Izturis was lost for the season with a dumb thumb injury. Howie Kendrick is recovering from a hammie owie. This leaves the infield a bit short-staffed. A coupla rooks are being thrown in the mix, and Sean Rodriguez at 2nd is the one to watch. First base isn't a big worry as Teixeira and your mom play there.

The outfield is what kills the competition. Between Juan Rivera, Reggie Willits, Vlad, and Jr. Matthews, opposing teams should be nervous. Torii is useless. Garrett Anderson did decent DH duty, but I wonder if his phlebitis is acting up.

So how does LA match up with Boston? The Angels were 2-1 when they visited Fenway, and went 3-0 at home. Looks pretty good for the Angels for a short series. After that they'd get either the ChiSox or the RayRays. Anything's possible in a 7-game series. So we could be seeing the team that brought us the goddamn rally monkey for a few weeks to come.