October 4, 2005
Game 1:
Don't let the Greatest Comeback Ever from the 2004 ALCS fool you: In a 5-game LDS series, Game 1 is huge. Get the Instant History ready for today's games!
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Weekday afternoon playoff baseball is right up there with the first two days of the NCAA Tournament as one of the best work days of the year. Everyone prep your fake Excel spreadsheets and sharpen your "Alt/Tab" skills!

But the biggest storyline involves a team not even playing today:

The Astros are the bandwagon favorite to win the World Series.

Gammons. Stark. Neyer. Caple.

Four experts from across the spectrum of ESPN analysts all pick Houston to win its first World Series.

And the second most popular choice is the Angels. (Olney, Neel, Crasnick)

Wait: Where's the love for the Red Sox? (Dare I even suggest the Yankees?)

Nope, not this year. There's an obvious Boston fatigue. (New York? That got old a half-decade ago.)

I'm not sure if fans at large are so quick to pick against the Red Sox and Yankees, but it's so refreshing to look out in the distance and project new drama.

Even if it involves old playoff faces like Clemens and Pettitte.

1 p.m. ET: SDP/STL
Peavy vs. Carpenter: I've heard that the Cardinals are going to blast Team .500 right out of the playoffs.

All I know is that Carp has been ugly his last few starts, and if I had to pick one rested NL pitcher for a must-win game, it's Peavy.

Trust ESPN.com users: Where is our users' sense of fun? Almost all predict the Cards in a rout. Doesn't anyone else want to see an 82-80 win the title?

4 p.m. ET: BOS/CWS
Clement vs. Contreras: I've heard Red Sox fans think they own one-time Boston recruit Contreras.

All I know is that Contreras has won 8 straight starts (allowing only 7 ER in his last 5 games). Why else would Gammons pick the ChiSox to win in 5?

Trust ESPN.com users: More fans would rather see the White Sox win their first title since 1917 than the Red Sox repeat. (And yet the Red Sox are the overwhelming pick to win in 4 or 5.)

Amare Stoudemire: 5y/$73m ext. for best young big in NBA
Jim Leyland: Crusty veteran manager may land with Tigers?
Randy Moss back in NFL drug program thanks to HBO
Jim Tracy: Dodgers take frustrations out by firing manager
Alan Trammell: "Local legend" status apparently means zip
Pete Rose: Nearly hooks up w/ online gambling site. Yikes.
8 p.m. ET: NYY/LAA
Mussina vs. Colon: I've heard Yankees fans talk all about how A-Rod clobbered Colon the last time they met.

All I know is that Colon is still the leading AL Cy Young candidate -- and that Moose gets clocked like that regularly... by players a lot worse than A-Rod.

Trust ESPN.com users: The majority are almost evenly split between taking the Yankees in 4 and the Angels in 5. That makes G1 pivotal.

MNF: Packers 0-4
Believe it or not, Brett Favre is actually in a pretty good situation: His sterling rep remains intact, despite leading the Packers to their worst start in 17 years.

"He's carrying the team!" his many fans cry. Now, he might "carry" them to 2-14 and drafting Reggie Bush No. 1 overall next spring, but at least he's holding up his end while doing it.

Vick Will Start
Sunday vs. the Pats, in what will be the most watched game of the week. Even a half-speed Vick might be enough to slip through the currently sieve-like New England D. Keep tracking this story.

Meanwhile, brother Marcus, emerging as one of the most exciting (and talented) QBs in college football, apologized for making obscene gestures at West Virginia fans on Saturday. And it wasn't the Heisman pose.

Knicks Get Curry
Ability vs. liability: That's the Eddy Curry trade-off.

So for now, give Isiah credit for a bold move, landing one of the better young big men in the East, making room for Q. Richardson in the starting lineup and making tempermental young star Jamal Crawford happy.

That "for now" lasts just about as long as Eddy Curry's heart does. Not to sound macabre, but there's a very serious reason the Bulls would give up on one of their franchise foundations for Mike Sweetney and loose change.

NBA Camps Open
"I am not going anywhere." That's the money quote from LeBron, who sounds thrilled about his team's offseason acquisitions attempts to keep him happy. That won't keep fans from speculating.

Top 5 Camp Storylines:
1. Larry Brown in New York
Eddy Curry no Ben Wallace...
2. Phil Jackson in L.A.
And Kwame Brown is no Shaq.
3. Star power on South Beach
Can Heat integrate new guys?
4. Pacers at full strength
All eyes on Artest behavior.
5. Can the Spurs repeat?
They got BETTER; why not?

Players named "Rogers":
Lions WR Charles susp. 4G for violating NFL drug policy. Rangers SP Kenny won't be retained by Texas (for violating MLB's media abuse policy?)
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Page 2 Index
ESPN MLB picks
Ranking LDS G1 SPs
Jake Peavy
Padres ace still underrated
Chris Carpenter
Likely NL Cy guy?
Andy Pettitte
He's Mr. October of SPs
Bartolo Colon
Favorite to win AL Cy
Jose Contreras
Mo gives edge over Clement

Shanoff's MLB Picks:
ALDS: Yankees in 5
ALDS: Red Sox in 5
NLDS: Padres in 5
NLDS: Astros in 5
ALCS: Yankees in 7
NLCS: Astros in 6
WS: Astros in 7
MVP: Clemens
(Self-analysis: What a punk-out in the AL! Wow, I'd love to see the White Sox and Angels advance; maybe I'm just trying not to jinx them...)

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