October 12, 2004
Carlos Beltran:
Best trade-deadline pick-up debate is over: It's Beltran, who hit 2 HR in LDS-clinching G5 last night, giving him 4 for the series (hit .455, too).

The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Pedro Martinez's li'l pal (and unofficial Red Sox cheerleader) Nelson de la Rosa symbolizes the differences between the teams in the Series To End All Series.

The Red Sox are Freaks: A diverse carnival of frat-house antics and self-proclaimed "Idiots." The team mantra has gone from "Cowboy Up!" to "One of us ... one of us ..."

The Yankees are Geeks: Buttoned-up and all-business to the point of Listerine professionalism, they remain baseball's Stepford squad.

(The irony is that the Freaks are guided by a geeky Bill James-inspired front office; the Geeks perpetuate the freaky "Jeter intangibles" myth.)

Here's the thing: So far, there's been no evidence that Boston's easygoing, "Why Not Us?" thing beats New York's clinical, "We're Why It's Not You" focus on winning. In a series this taut, loosey and goosey gives up a slight edge to discipline and experience.

Translation: Francona's blunders will be the difference: In yet another RSN heartbreaker, Yankees in 7.

Rivera Watch
Via private jet, expected to be in NY for G1 tonight. Can already see how this plays out: If he pitches poorly, the trip gets the blame; if he pitches well, it's a mystique-builder.

Schilling Yaps
Bulletin-board material: "I'm not sure I can think of any scenario more enjoyable than making 55,000 people from New York shut up." It's not that it won't happen; it's that it can't happen.

Astros Win LDS
One of the more remarkable streaks in MLB history is over: The Astros won their first postseason series ever, in their eighth try. They did it decisively (and on the road, no less). Manager Phil Garner is off the hook, at least. Because coming next ...

Brian Griese: Will get another start for Bucs (Simms out)
Dave Miley: Reds manager gets extension through 2006
Titans RB Chris Brown: Re-tracks with 148 yards and 2 TDs
Parcells and Gibbs: Both are frustrated with their teams
Braves: Overachieved in '04, but playoff slump continues
Tim Carter: Giants top deep-play WR likely out for season
NLCS Preview
... Houston has no chance. Go ahead and talk about the Astros' season-ending series sweep of St. Louis. The 'Stros got what they desperately needed -- out of a playoff round. Now, with a pitching rotation in tatters, they'll be lucky to take this series to six games.

Pick: StL in 5.

MNF: Pack Stinks
Lamb-asted: Titans' 48 the most points ever scored by a visitor at Lambeau. But that's not nearly as bad as GB's 1-4 start, which only 8 teams in NFL history have recovered from to make the playoffs. (Those of you us who picked the Pack to the NFC title game, please 'fess up.)

NFL Injuries
Usually when a RB goes down, everyone goes scurrying to the fantasy waiver wire to pick up his replacement. How bad is it for the Panthers that they are so far down the RB depth chart that FFL GMs can't even find Carolina's 4th/5th-string guy?

Meanwhile: Breathe a sigh of relief, because the most exciting player in the league, Lions WR Roy Williams, is day-to-day, not (yet) tainted by Detroit's annoying habit of losing its best skill-position players for the season.

Ricky Watch
Latest: Williams' lawyer said he thinks Ricky will be back in the NFL "as soon as possible" -- even claiming he can return without a suspension. How does he possibly make that go away? Does his attorney work for the firm of Copperfield, Henning and Blaine?

Offensive T-Shirts
Does this offend you?

Hey, Red Sox: Who's Your Daddy?

Apparently, unless RSN fans are making their own "spirit shirts" (usually incorporating the words "Yankees" and "suck"), they can't take it.

Were they offended by the sentiment -- or that MLB itself produced the shirts? So MLB pulled the shirts (Hey, Red Sox: Don't Be Maddy?)

Why wouldn't Boston fans embrace the insult and turn it into a rallying cry? The same hyper-sensitivity keeps them from handling the pressure of beating the Yankees. "Why Not Us?" Exactly.

Jay Fiedler,
A.J. Feeley:

Both Miami QBs will sit for "Someone's Gotta Win" game vs. equally winless Buffalo, leaving starting to ... Sage Rosenfels, who EVERYONE is rooting for.
Today on ESPN.com
P2: Don Zimmer previews the ALCS
Morning Quickie!
ALCS Coverage
ALCS X-Factors
Francona's decisions
He's an ALCS newbie
A-Rod's clutch
Unknown scares RSN
3rd/4th starters
Series won/lost in Boston
Boston's bats
Ramirez/Ortiz, specifically
Derek Jee-tuh
As much as you may hate ...

More ALCS Projections:

Project (if not *guarantee*) some NY entrepreneur has bootleg "Who's Your ..." T-shirts on the street outside of the Stadium this afternoon ...

Of each team's major offseason upgrade, project A-Rod to have an even bigger series than Schilling, who could go 2-0 and end up a loser ...

Of both teams' weak links in the starting rotation, project Bos No. 4 Wakefield to have the toughest time (NY No. 2 Lieber, too) ...

If the Yankees lose this series, project an unprecedented spending binge this offseason (Hello: Pedro! Oh, and Goodbye: Cashman!) ...

If the Red Sox lose this series, project the biggest question as: Where can they possibly go from here? ...

Happy retirement to Robin Ventura: I was at Shea for his '99 NLCS Game 5 walk-off whatever-it-was. 18 career slams (3rd-most ever)? The guy was clutch ...

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