For those astounded by El Duque's sick relief in
Chicago's clincher on Friday, it was TOPPED by
Rocket's no-backup 3 IP on 2 days' rest yesterday.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
Longest. Playoff Game. Ever.
kind of won in 5 games, if you count the second 9
innings as a whole new game.
I can't agree this was the best non-World Series
playoff game ever, but it WAS the best LDS game ever.
("2nd Guessing" must-read; see Q It Up.)
Rookie Chris Burke's walk-off shot was memorable for
its improbability. (Is "Joey Devine" not one of the
most ironic names in MLB history?)
But Clemens' relief (on two days' rest!) was what took
the game (and his own legend) to another
For all Clemens' Cy Youngs and his place as one of the
top starting pitchers ever, this stint in relief
qualifies as the most impressive moment of his career
(caveat: IF the Astros go on to win the
Next: Cards-Astros NLCS. Rematch of 2004's
NLCS, which was eclipsed by the ALCS but one of the
best LCS series of all time. Total toss-up.
Yanks, Halos Go 5
Win or go home: For all the drama of
the White Sox' Game 3 or the Astros' Game 4 wins,
there's nothing like a winner-take-all game in the
And "all" is right: You know you want to see the
Yankees lose, because of the Boss-led New York drama
that will undoubtedly rock the offseason.
Then again, now that the Red Sox have been bounced, if
the Yankees lose, the playoffs will lack that
nationally recognized brand. You know you'd miss
Meanwhile, with the winner of this game having to fly
directly to Chicago, give the edge to the White Sox to
jump out to a fast start in the ALCS. (Contreras
announced as Chicago's G1 starter.)
Keep reading for a Red Sox post-mortem three
seasons in the making!
NFL W5: NFC Stinks
The entire NFC is worthless: Dallas
trouncing Philly just confirms it; the Eagles'
backslide into 3rd place in the NFC East symbolic of a
conference without any juice.
The previously unbeaten Bucs?
Couldn't handle a 41-y.o. QB.
(How can you NOT love Vinny?)
Previously unbeaten Redskins?
Couldn't handle the altitude.
The Falcons? Schaub subbing for Vick was an
Atlanta still lost.
Carolina barely held off Arizona. Kyle Orton has virtually no grip
on the Bears' offense. Green Bay just got its
first win. And the 49ers? Don't even ask.
Right now, there isn't a team in the NFC that seems
qualified to be labeled a Super Bowl
||CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
|WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...|
Vinny Testaverde: Ageless QB wins for NY (13/19, 163 yds)|
Joe Jurevicius: With no help, SEA WR stars (9-137, 1 TD)
Matt Schaub: 298 passing yds in ATL loss. QB controversy?
|... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'|
Braves: Fourth year in a row they've been bounced via LDS|
Najeh Davenport: 2 TDs vs. NO, but out for season? (ankle)
John Daly: Can't hold off Tiger for title in AmEx Champ.
NFL W5: AFC Rules
Meanwhile, there are a half-dozen AFC
teams that could be the best team in the NFC. The AFC is carrying the
Are the Pats back? Just in time to pick up the
regional fan slack from the Red Sox disappointment,
the Pats prove the doubters wrong and win yet another
game on Adam V's foot.
(Next week: at Denver?! I'm not saying they haven't
earned it, but has there ever been a more difficult
first 6 weeks than the Pats have had?)
In the other Game of the Day, the Jaguars
didn't expose the Bengals as much as they established
themselves as a bonafide contender in the AFC. The
pressure of prime time? Not for Byron Leftwich.
Great MNF showdown: PIT/SD: No offense in the
NFL is clicking like San Diego's right now. They'll
be an even bigger test for the Steelers than the Pats
were. (9, ABC)
Red Sox: What next?
Red Sox Nation can revert to their
default state: Bitter. Love the revisionist "We knew
this was coming all along" from players, local media
and fans. Classy.
The Sox didn't create a dynasty; in fact, their LDS
flameout (and subsequent breakup this winter) only
secures their place as an East Coast version of the
Diamondbacks. One-hit wonders.
Damon. Mueller. Millar. Timlin. Maybe Ramirez (which
would be crazy; Big Papi will set the record for walks
without Manny hitting behind him).
The biggest free agent? Theo. If I was new
D-Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, I'd offer Epstein $5
million a year to be Tampa GM.
The pitch is simple, and RSN confirmed it this
In Tampa, things can only get better, but in Boston,
it will NEVER be as good as 2004. Never. It's the
curse of unprecedented success.
Penn St.: For Real!
I've been among the many over the last
few years arguing for Joe Paterno to step down. Even
though he still looks a little like a confused
grandparent out there at times, he's at the helm of a
top 10 team.
Beating Ohio State proves Penn State is for real.
Freshman sensation Derrick Williams is one of the top
3 most talented players in all of college football.
And the Lions are officially THE surprise of the
(Of course, you know what all the "JoePa is back!"
talk will mean: Penn State is going to get waxed at
Michigan next week, even though UM is down.)
CFB Weekend Wrap
USC is still No. 1, but every week they
continue to let inferior teams hang around, their grip
slips. (And credit Rose contenders Texas and UGA for
decisive wins in "Prove-It" games.)
Quickie Top 10 Ballot:
1 USC | 2 Texas | 3 VA Tech
4 Bama | 5 UGA | 6 Notre Dame
7 FSU | 8 Miami | 9 Penn St
10 UCLA (NOT: Wisco, OH St)
Trendy Heisman: LenDale White
For the second straight week! USC has a backfield like
Auburn's last year: White and Reggie Bush could both
be top 3 NFL draft picks.
Looking Ahead to Next Week:
USC at Notre Dame: Before the season started,
this looked like a mismatch. Now, giving Charlie Weis
two weeks to prep seems unfair.
Worth asking: What good are division titles if you
can't get out of the first round of the playoffs?
"Just get in" becomes unsatisfying after a while.
|Today on ESPN.com|
|Page 2 Critics|
|MLB Second Guessing|
|NFL Top 5|
|NFL's only unbeaten left|
|Like they never left...|
|Edge to MNF winner|
|"Quality win" at home|
|Lost mo, but still 4 Ws|
Cards sweep Padres: Well, technically, the
Padres finished the playoffs with an overall record
under .500 (82-83).|
El Duque for ALDS MVP: His relief performance,
particularly in the 6th, was perhaps the clutchest
ever in the ESPN Era. (Until Clemens!)
Chicago's sweep was as shocking (based on pre-LDS
expectations) as 2004's Red Sox comeback. Few gave the White
Sox a shot; no one thought they'd sweep.
Which of these statements is crazier: (1) Matt Schaub
is better suited to run the Falcons' O than Mike Vick.
(2) Atlanta should consider a platoon.
NBA preseason: Spurs vs. Heat. What better way to test
the questionable chemistry of the new-look Heat than
to play the defending champs?
NBA pre, part 2: Cavs. vs. Wiz. Think Washington's
players will have a stray elbow for ex-teammate and
new LeBron running buddy Larry Hughes?