October 27, 2006

Revenge of the Flyover States, Game 4

I like watching David Eckstein play. I always have, even when he was on the Angels, a team I viscerally loath. But - and this has been bothering me for a few days now – as much as we can all agree that hustle is a good thing… very admirable in general, certainly nothing wrong with it … is it really necessary to sprint to first base on a walk? Really? We’re not talking about a grounder or a popup, a play on which there could possibly be an error by the defense, allowing a heads-up baserunner to reach safely. We’re talking about a walk. One base. Automatically. You can’t stretch a walk. I mean, there’s hustle and then there’s Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Meanwhile, we might as well all go home, because God is obviously rooting for the Cardinals -- they got roughly an entire season's worth of breaks all in one night in Game 4, while the Tigers stumbled, tripped, and threw balls away left and right. Literally. This game could hardly have been uglier for Tigers fans (or Yankees fans who couldn’t stop thinking “THESE schmucks shut down one of the greatest offenses of all time?”), and although it was exciting in the sense that it was decided in the late innings, this was not what you’d call good baseball. It looks like the 83-game winners are on the brink; take deep breaths and repeat the helpful mantra “small sample size, small sample size, small sample size, small sample size.”

And speaking of God and the Cardinals, Jeff Suppan appeared in a Missouri TV ad during the game last night for an anti-stem-cell group called Missourians Against Human Cloning. I don’t want to get political here – I don’t like politics in my sports -- but come on: it should be possible to oppose stem cell research on moral or religious grounds, without trying to scare dumb people into thinking allowing it would “make cloning a Constitutional right.” Besides, I think maybe they're being too hard on cloning. Who doesn’t like the idea of a pitching rotation full of Chien-Ming Wangs? I'd say the Yankees should look into this, but I suspect they already have.

October 26, 2006

The Mystique of Placido Polanco

My first instinct was to make fun of Placido Polanco for his supremely silly-looking head sock, but the more I think about it, the more I realize you just have to respect him for having the balls to wear it. He’s apparently decided that keeping his ears warm is worth risking the mockery of millions, and honestly, we should all be so secure and self-confident. Now if only he could get a hit…

So yet another game was rained out, and the Cardinals held onto their 2-1 lead in the Series. I still haven’t had much luck trying to make myself care, though at least Chris Carpenter was fun to watch. In his interview afterwards he was so excited, and talking so fast, that it sounded like the recording had been sped up. But except for Game 7 of the NLCS (Endy!), this just hasn’t been an especially memorable postseason -- there’ve been some excellent performances, of course, and some tense moments, but a lot of sloppiness too, and a lot of flat games. Or, very possibly, I'm just bitter because I don't have a team to root for. Every time Bonderman and Suppan appear on TV I start twitching.

Meanwhile, in a truly stunning development... Gary Sheffield is upset about something! He doesn't want the Yankees to exercise his $13 million option just to trade him, in which case, he says, "there's going to be a problem." I actually find Sheffield's outbursts refreshing -- most athletes are far too image-conscious to be that honest ("Y'all think you know what I'm going to do, but you don't. Nobody knows. That's the mystique of me," he said earlier this summer). But, of course, the problem with being honest while bitching about your $13 million-a-year contract is that it makes you look like a complete dick. I think Sheffield has actually done very well by the Yankees, this year's injury aside, and I hope he ends up someplace he wants to go, where they appreciate his considerable talents... but there's just not a logical place for him on next year's team. I'll miss the bat waggle, and the sight of rich corporate ticketholders frantically diving for cover when he launches a foul ball into the third base seats, but... all I want for Christmas this year is pitching. Please?

Finally, my last playoff article (sniff), about the NLCS, is out in this week's Village Voice.

October 23, 2006

Well, I Guess That's One Explanation...

I didn’t watch all of Game 1, but I’m struggling to accept the fact that the Cardinals beat up on Justin Verlander, who so completely baffled the Yankees. Then to add insult to injury we have last night's game, not a fun one for New York baseball fans. A Weaver-Rogers World Series match-up? Fabulous. Hide the sharp objects and rat poison.

Things took an intriguing twist, though, when it was revealed that Kenny Rogers had some sort of “foreign substance” on his pitching hand. Wow. You almost have to admire the chutzpah of anyone with the nerve to doctor a ball in the middle of the World Series, while surrounded by high-definition cameras and subjected to an unsurpassed level of scrutiny. It now looks as if he had this “clump of dirt” on his hand during all three series, including that game against the Yankees... yep, I'm torn between grudging admiration and uncontrollable rage.

In Rogers’ defense (you have no idea how much it pains me to type those words), he continued to pitch extremely well after washing his hands.

UPDATE: They asked La Russa about this at the televised press conference today, and his answer could not have been longer or more rambling. The upshot seems to be that La Russa knew Rogers was using pine tar but, rather than disrupt the game and mar the Series by officially making accusations, he decided to just “get it fixed and play the game.” That's pretty admirable, actually.

Strange man, La Russa. He got “personally offended” when some one asked him if he avoided causing a fuss out of respect for Leyland. “If somebody seriously accused me of that I would get very upset and confrontational,” he said, totally deadpan and emotionless.

Finally someone asked him if he thought it might have just been dirt. Loooooong pause... chuckle... "it didn't look like dirt."

Leyland declined to comment. Fucking Kenny Rogers, man. Un-fucking-believable.

October 21, 2006

Yadier Molina vs. Kenny Rogers. Kill Me.

Yikes. I still haven’t fully recovered from Game 7. That was the definition of a heartbreaker – so excruciatingly close… how do you get a catch like that from Endy Chavez and still not win? Given the situation, that has to be the best catch I’ve ever seen in my life. Even the jaded auxiliary press box crowd jumped up and applauded, and that is not a common sight. Also: Yadier Molina? Seriously? I’m not going to the World Series because of Yadier Molina? I’m going to hold a grudge on this for a long, long time.

This leaves me in a precarious position for the World Series, as the two teams playing both crushed my hopes just a few weeks apart. Obviously you have to watch, though, because after that it’s 4 months of baseball withdrawal. I’d have to say that while I don’t much care what happens, I’m rooting for the Tigers, mainly because I like Jim Leyland; not enough managers smoke in the dugout these days. I do, however, want to see the Cardinals pound the hell out of Kenny Rogers. Badly.

And yes, I realize I’m getting dangerously close to baseball bigamy here. I keep telling myself I was only rooting for the Mets because I wanted to keep covering the playoffs… but these feelings are something I’m going to have to sort out this winter, possibly in therapy. The Mets just sort of happened to me; I had a little crush and then before I knew it, things got out of hand -- soon I found myself lying to the Yankees, coming home late at night and sneaking out to Shea at lunch... Anyway, aside from the moral and ethical issues, the downside of rooting for two teams was made painfully clear to me this year when they both lost, in very different but equally painful ways. I'm in a fragile, emotionally confused state right now. The Nets had better be nice to me this year.

October 18, 2006

I Do NOT Want To See A Jeff Weaver/ Kenny Rogers Pitching Duel

So Lou Piniella is now officially managing the Cubs. I think he’s got some good qualities as a manager, but I’m not a big fan of Sweet Lou, ever since watching a clip of his ugly locker room fight with Rob Dibble back when he was manager of the Reds. Sadly, the YouTube overlords seem to have removed it, but Piniella really goes after the guy, screaming “you don’t want to be treated like a man!” Unfortunately for everyone involved here, I think the Cubs may have more serious problems than a lack of machismo.

Naturally, this has set off rumors that A-Rod will therefore be traded to the Cubs, where he could be reunited with his old Mariners manager and, apparently, surrogate father-figure (was Lou Piniella really the best father figure he could find? What, Randy Johnson wasn’t volatile and crazy enough?). I don't think this is going to happen (SI's John Heyman explains why), and from a baseball perspective it would be a big mistake. It’s hard to say at this point how much of the Rodriguez-doesn’t-fit-in stuff is a blown out of proportion media creation and how much is true, but he’s still one of the best players in the game. That gets said all the time, but I’m not sure people really hear it. Look at the guy's numbers again -- I still do a double-take. He did flop in the playoffs, no doubt, but so did most of his teammates; so did the As. The common factor there, of course, is the Tigers’ pitching. So unless the Yankees can get a truly top-of-the-line young starting pitcher in exchange – and I’m not at all convinced that Carlos Zambrano would be enough – they’re not going to come out on top here. Not having to deal with the endless soap opera that A-Rod's stay in New York has devolved into might make it almost worth a bad trade… but not quite, I think.

The Mets, meanwhile, are in some trouble – facing elimination tonight with John Maine going against Chris Carpenter. (Glavine wasn’t bad yesterday but Jeff Weaver, of all people, outpitched him. What the hell? The last few postseasons have seen a who’s-who of mediocre Yankee castoffs suddenly turn in ace performances; at this rate I expect to see Carl Pavano throw a no-hitter to outduel a stellar Ted Lilly in the 2009 Series). And if the Mets manage to win tonight, they’ll have another elimination game tomorrow in which TBD will face Jeff Suppan: Steve Trachsel’s Game 3 start was so appalling it was blocked by my V-Chip, Darren Oliver is a long reliever for a reason (last start: 2004), and Oliver Perez is enough of a gamble on full rest. I think the Mets are unquestionably a better team than the Cardinals when at full strength, and not by a small margin -- but when a team loses two of its starting pitchers less than a week before the playoffs, well, suddenly you need a lot of luck. I’m off to Shea now, rabbit’s foot in tow.

October 14, 2006

Will Somebody With Photoshop Please Put Valentin's Mustache on David Wright's Face For Me?

Well, at least the Mets-Cardinals series doesn’t look like it’s going to be boring. Both teams won the game they were supposed to win – the Mets behind Glavine, their most reliable starter by well over a mile, and the Cardinals behind Chris Carpenter, though in fact he didn’t pitch very well; the Mets bullpen had an uncharacteristic bout of mediocrity. It was a messy game, but there were a few pretty moments – Delgado’s homers, excellent at-bats from Eckstein and Pujols and Spezio, patented Reyes-brand baserunning. The Mets seemed to take the rough ending more or less in stride, though you could argue it was the first truly meaningful loss they’ve had in months. Kind of amazing, when you think about it.

They’ll now start Steve Trachsel and Oliver Perez and cross their fingers that one of them comes up big; the Cards will do the same with Suppan and Anthony Reyes. I have a good, though utterly baseless, feeling about Perez, but in any event they’ll have Glavine again for Game 5. I do realize that Jeff Weaver somehow suddenly went from five or so years of “having a lot of potential” to actually being good, but I still don’t trust it... all I know is that somehow, all of this is Kenny Rogers’ fault.

In other news, it seems as though Albert Pujols can be a bit of a jerk (with the media, anyway; doesn’t mean anything as far as his personal life goes). I’m sorry to hear it, because you want Pujols to be a larger-than-life figure, really the embodiment of hitting -- and instead he gets snippy, shoves his chair, and pouts that Tom Glavine wasn’t actually good (uh, Albert? Yes, he was). Hey, if I were one of the best players in the game and went hitless in the playoffs, and then had to talk about it with 50 strangers, I’d probably be pissy too, but still… you want more from him. This is precisely the way I thought I’d be disillusioned by professional athletes when I first went into a locker room, and I think it’s a testament to the Mets (and the Yanks, too) that it really hasn't been like that so far.

And now, I am very happy to reintroduce a favorite feature on this blog… yes, it’s

MUSTACHE WATCH 06!: Okay, it’s not technically a mustache, but somebody needs to talk to Scott Spezio about the bright red thing on his chin. I didn’t want to go here, but if we're going to be honest it can only be described as a landing strip. Scott: this is a family game, little kids are watching, and somebody is going to complain to the FCC (Hey, who wants to explain to the Parents Television Council what a landing strip is? Not it!).

As to Jose Valentin’s renowned facial hair: you just keep on keepin’ on, my friend.

Finally, I realize I never linked to my second Village Voice article. Oops.

October 11, 2006

Saracasm Postponed, Rescheduled for Friday

I found out about the plane crash on the Upper East Side right before I left for Shea (in fact, my ride had to go cover it); when I first heard that Cory Lidle was the pilot I just assumed it must be a strange false rumor. It’s incredibly random and, obviously, incredibly sad -- you don’t need me to tell you that, but it would still be weird not to say it. I didn’t know Lidle at all, of course, but I did talk to him briefly with other reporters several times in the Yankee clubhouse over the last few weeks, and he seemed like a very nice guy in those brief interactions. I was struck by how small he was – not much taller than me – and how articulate; he liked chess and there was always a board set up near his locker. There’s obviously not much to say here, and certainly nothing funny.

MLB called tonight’s game, which is probably for the best, even aside from the ghastly weather. Everyone knows everyone in baseball, especially with free agency -- Lidle played for seven different teams -- and a lot of the players seemed shaken up. Poor Mets fans, they’re just never going to get the headlines to themselves... at this rate, tomorrow there’ll probably be tornadoes or a rain of frogs or something.

BREAKING NEWS: Torre Scratches Nose, Blinks, Clings to Shreds of Dignity

It’s Championship Series time! As the Twins take on the Yankees in the ALCS, I predict… oh wait, that’s right. I’m not making playoff predictions anymore.

So, as I’m sure you’ve heard unless you’ve been asleep for the last 24 hours, in which case I’m jealous, it’s official: Joe Torre’s back with the Yankees next year. I think this is a good thing, but man, if that’s what was gonna happen we all just could have skipped the last three days of screeching speculation, huh? At the risk of sounding na├»ve, I’m a bit taken aback by the sudden vitriol unleashed on Torre. Not that there aren’t plenty of valid reasons to argue that it’s time for a new manager (to say nothing of some serious roster changes, but with contracts as they are, that'll be tough), but some of the articles that came out this week were hitting pretty low – particularly given that no one voiced any of these criticisms until it looked like he was gone. I mean, hey, no one’s a bigger fan of negativity than me, but I still found the bloodthirstiness a little disconcerting. I guess that’s just the nature of the beast.

Anyway. Mets fans are pissed that the Torre saga is stealing their playoff headlines, and they have a point. I was at Shea today for the workout day, and the Mets are in a pretty damn good mood; it's kind of infectious. I still don’t know if confidence and/or chemistry actually matter in terms of helping a team win, but if they do those guys are in good shape. Still – everyone agrees the lesson from the recent… thing that happened in Detroit… is that pitching is, indeed, everything. Right? In which case, I'd worry that the Mets may run into some trouble; not so much with St. Louis, outside of Carpenter, but in the World Series, if they get there.

Then again, everything seems to be going right for them right now – and you need some breaks, just ask the ’96 Yankees, or the ’86 Mets for that matter – so maybe they’ll find a way. No predictions though! You hear me, baseball gods? I’m just idly speculating! Nothing to see here!

October 08, 2006

Well, THAT Went Well

“They outplayed us, they outpitched us – there’s not much else you can say,” said Joe Torre after tonight’s game. I’m sure sportswriters across the country will think of something, but I guess that’s it in a nutshell.

Tomorrow’s Daily News, according to ESPN, reports that Joe Torre is going to be fired. I have to admit he didn’t make any dazzling managerial moves in this postseason, and I can see that sometimes things just need to be shaken up, but it’s still sad, if true. I’ve got some very happy memories involving that guy tearing up on the field in October. He also seems like a genuinely thoughtful, pleasant guy, willing to take time to make everyone feel comfortable -- in fact, I can’t recall hearing even one story about him really treating anyone badly, which is truly remarkable for someone whose boss is George Steinbrenner, given the way shit generally rolls downhill. In any case, it'd be the end of an era.

For those of you looking to be cheered up, I have several suggestions. First, many thanks to the commenter who called Jeremy Bonderman’s striking resemblance to Alice the Goon, from the Popeye cartoons. Good eye, my friend - that's the nose right there. Second, courtesy of Bronx Banterer Alex Belth, check out this sound clip of Earl Weaver, legendary manager of the Baltimore Orioles in the 70s and 80s, on the “Manager’s Corner” radio show. Weaver was known for his strategizing, growing tomato plants in the outfield, and being… you know… “colorful”. Not to be missed. As a bonus, here’s Tommy Lasorda on throwing at hitters.

The Mets swept the Dodgers today, which is great for me because I get to go to home NLCS games, but it's also nice because they're just such a fun team. I know rooting for the Mets goes very much against the grain for Yankee fans, and may be downright impossible, but hey – go ahead and watch them play in the next round, and if you find that you aren’t exactly hoping for them to lose, I promise I won’t tell anyone... though you might not want to do it in public, because we're about to take a whole lot of crap from Mets fans. If any of them give you a hard time, I recommend bringing this up.

October 07, 2006

So He CAN Pitch In The Postseason... He Just Hates New York

Damn. Kenny Rogers? Kenny Rogers?!?! Okay… I’m really, REALLY not making any more predictions.

No one, including the fans, seemed too concerned after yesterday’s loss, but today’s seems like an absolute disaster – that’s a five-game series for you. Gotta give Rogers credit, he pitched a genuinely great game, and his curveball looked like it was defying several laws of physics; but it’s still surprising that the Yankees couldn’t scrape up even one run. They weren’t their usual patient selves, swinging at pitches out of the strike zone, and there was a marked absence of small ball – no stolen bases, no fly balls to advance the runner, just one good (but failed) attempt by Abreu to bunt his way on. With their big sluggers back, they’re looking like a better version of last year’s team; extremely powerful, but inflexible. Which is not to suggest that Terrence Long should be on the playoff roster or anything, but... maybe it's time for some Melky?

Jaret Wright goes up against Jeremy Bonderman in the elimination game tomorrow. The Yankees still have a very decent chance of getting to Game 5, but I'd feel a lot more comfortable with Chien-Ming Wang going on three days’ rest. That’s never been Joe Torre’s style though -- Wang didn’t even fly to the Detroit with the team -- and in his post-game conference, he said he wouldn’t want to “mess with [Wang's] future.” Fair enough, and Torre obviously knows a lot more than I do about the dangers going tomorrow would pose to Wang’s long-term health, but still, if Jaret Wright has one of his patented meltdowns, it’s going to be hard not to wonder what might have been.

After the game, Rogers talked about his stint in New York: “For my time being there, I don't understand New York as much as some other people, but I would think that they would appreciate the effort that people give. Not always the results that you want,” he said. Um… nice thought, Kenny, but no. I have an ex-boss who’ll be happy to enlighten you on that score. But hey, remember that time last year you assaulted a cameraman for no reason? Good effort!

Okay, so I'm a little bitter. But hopefully a couple of beers and a little sleep will allow me to forgive Kenny Rogers. And focus on the important things, like like trying to figure out which cartoon character it is that Jeremy Bonderman reminds me of.

Any ideas?

October 05, 2006

When I Have A "Police Escort" It Usually Means I'm Being Arrested

So I just got home around midnight from the rain delay in the Bronx. I was pissed that I rushed up there from Shea for no reason, but that’s nothing compared to many of the other sportswriters, who had to reschedule their flights and hotels at the last minute, not to mention submit stories on deadline with no game to write about. When I got off the subway it was a near monsoon, so I guess they made the right decision, though I can introduce you to about 50,000 drunk, pissed off ticket holders who might disagree.

It was a fun game at Shea today, though. I’ve never seen anything like that double play at the plate in the second inning. About four older writers sitting near me immediately exclaimed, “just like that ’85 game when Carlton Fisk tagged Bobby Meacham and Dale Berra!”; I of course thought of Major League. And I had absolutely no idea how the fuck to score that thing (9-4-2 double play, if you’re curious). The best part was that Lo Duca had no idea the second runner was coming home -- and seriously, why was he? -- until John Maine, backing up behind the plate, yelled and pointed, which means J.D. Drew very nearly stole home… sort of. I think. Regarless, it was awesome.

Meanwhile, is it just me, is or has Vernon Wells been very good so far on Baseball Tonight? The guy is smooth. It pains me to say this, but there’s no getting around it: Tino Martinez, despite having many excellent qualities as a player and teammate, did not excel in this role. Oh hey, and speaking of not excelling, I saw Steve Phillips, everyone's favorite Baseball Tonight analyst, at Shea today; he sort of popped out from behind a corner and scared the hell out of me. I find it a little surprising that they have him broadcasting Mets games, given his history there - you have to hope he interviews Omar Minaya at some point. That won't be awkward at all.

In other Signature ESPN Personality news, Joe Morgan got a police escort from Shea to Yankee Stadium to make sure he got to the game on time. Think about that next time you read about crime in the South Bronx. Tomorrow I’ll be back at the Stadium in the morning, then head back to Shea for the night game; I kind of want to go to Staten Island at some point just so I can say I’ve hit all five boroughs in the same day, but I suppose there won’t be time.

October 04, 2006

No Matter How Hard You Try, You Just Can't Make A Decent Pun On The Name "Jeter"

First of all, I've got an article about the Yankees and Mets in this week's Village Voice; check it out if you're either interested or bored at work. I spent much of the last two weeks at Shea and Yankee Stadium, which explains the less-frequent-than-usual posting, though things should get less crazy this weekend when both teams go on the road. Tomorrow I'm going to both Division Series games, which should be both totally awesome and completely exhausting.

The Yankees did pretty much exactly what they were supposed to do tonight, and Derek Jeter was, of course, 5 for 5 with a home run. So the guy's not a fascinating quote... but what the hell, he's certainly not boring on the field. Even if I never have any kids, I'll still be telling other people's grandchildren about watching him play. Tomorrow, Mike Mussina takes on Justin Verlander in a game made even more important by the fact that Randy Johnson and his disintegrating spine are pitching Game 3. Though, granted, they'll be pitching against Kenny Rogers, who in previous postseason starts on a New York stage has... what's the opposite of "shined"? "Sucked away all available light like a gaping black hole"? The Mets, meanwhile, will be starting... somebody. Yes, a member of their pitching staff will definitely take the mound tomorrow. Hey, if they win, and they still very well might, it'll be a great story.

I'll have much more on all of this soon, but now, it's 3 AM and I have to be in beautiful Flushing around noon tomorrow. Good night and good luck.

October 03, 2006

God Still Hates the Mets (Isn't There Something in the Bible About Calves?)

My ability to destroy everything I touch (or in this case, just mention) persists, as Willie Randolph announced earlier today that El Duque is down for an unclear amount of time with a calf injury -- last I heard, it might just be a cramp, but it might be something more serious; they took him for an MRI. The Mets are getting more underdog-ish by the day, but hey, they probably feel more comfortable in that role anyway. I really hope this isn't the beginning of some kind of Curse of the Eephus. Though if it is, maybe I can get a book deal out of it.

And illustrating precisely why one in general, and I in particular, really shouldn't try to predict playoffs, ever, no matter how tempted you may be, the A's beat Johan "demigod" Santana in the Metrodome this afternoon, though he pitched very well. Huh.

I'm at Yankee Stadium for the game tonight, and it looks like it's going to be fun. Asked yesterday why he thought he'd been picked for game 1, Chien-Ming Wang said, in one of the longest sentences I've heard him utter thus far, "keep pitching good games." I like that guy's style.

October 02, 2006

"Hey Coney, Why Don't YOU Have A Dance?"

First of all, Orlando Hernandez threw an eephus pitch in Friday night’s Mets game, to the Braves’ large pinch hitter Daryle Ward. Result: biiiiiiig swing and a total miss, causing much amusement and reminiscing among the Mets announcers and making El Duque the official mascot of this website. Man, I hope he pulls that out in the playoffs.

The Twins pulled off an absolutely insane comeback to win the AL Central over the Tigers today, which is great news not only for anyone who loves a great sports story, but for the Yankees. Twins fans are going to be talking about this year until they’re drooling into their nursing home pillows, and a lot longer than that if you happen to believe in an afterlife. First of all, awesome, and second, I told you -- not about the Twins, though I was pulling for them, but about how you just can’t be too impressed by a team whose putative ace is Kenny Rogers. The Detroit GM could have asked any New Yorker over the age of, say, 17 about this, and saved himself a lot of trouble and money. And I know there’s no better way to make yourself look like an idiot than to try and predict a short playoff series… so I’m not going to start now, I guess… but, honestly, I will be flat-out stunned if the Tigers beat the Yankees. Anything can happen, sure, of course, but you’ll have to scrape my jaw off the floor with a spatula.

Beyond that, I have no clue, but I’ve got to say, The Twins are trailing acres of magic pixie dust right now. Brad Radke is a lunatic, but in a really impressive way: he pitched most of the year with a torn labrum (all you need to know is it’s in the shoulder, and it sounds painful) because he planned to retire at the end of the season; now he’s also pitching, and pitching pretty well, with a still-healing fractured shoulder. Meanwhile, Johan Santana hasn’t lost a game at home this year… at all. Which is one of those stats that normally would sound a lot more significant than it actually is, what with wins not being a very accurate means of evaluating a pitcher -- but in this case, he's just that good.

In the NL, I once again find myself struggling to stay awake every time the Padres are on my TV screen for more than 20 seconds or so. I don’t know what it is about that team, but I’ve always been utterly unable to care about them one way or the other, or even pay attention. The 1998 World Series was fun for me, but objectively, it was fairly boring baseball, because that Padres team was vastly, cosmically, overmatched. I do retain fond memories of David Wells (because really, if you can live that lifestyle, and still have an excellent career, and pitch a perfect game, you’re kind of my hero), but beyond that… I don’t know, am I missing something? Come to think of it, in my entire life I don’t think I’ve ever even met a Padres fan. The Dodgers are certainly a more interesting team, but if there’s any justice in this world the Mets will flatten them like pancakes, Pedro be damned. And finally, after the last few weeks, it’s hard to feel that the Cardinals actually deserve to be in the playoffs at all; but they do have Albert Pujols, and if anyone can win three games more or less single-handedly you’d have to assume it’s him.

As for the Yankees’ latest, and last, meaningless regular season game, it was great to see Bernie Williams get that two-out, bottom-of-the-ninth, pinch-hit double today (not to mention manage). Not only because you had to be happy for him, but because potentially, he could do some damage in that role in the playoffs. Bernie Williams may not be Bernie Williams anymore, but he’s still Bernie Williams, if you know what I mean.