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Monday, October 10

Editor's note: By popular demand of fans, skeptics, retirees and people who love to mock other people, Second Guessing returns for more October baseball.

David Schoenfield: Well, I guess Yankees fans can rejoice in the fact they went two games further than the Red Sox.

I'm staring at the Yankees' payroll -- $203 million, including $46.5 million paid to pitchers who aren't even on the postseason roster (Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Steve Karsay, Mike Stanton, Paul Quantrill and Felix Rodriguez).

They had three designated hitters on the team -- Jason Giambi, Ruben Sierra and Bernie Williams -- making about a combined $27 million. But they had no center fielder.

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Playoff theories: What really wins in the postseason

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Their $25 million MVP candidate knocked in zero runs in the series and grounded into a double play in the ninth inning.

Their $8 million left fielder left eight runners on base in this game. Of course, he's one of the lower-paid players on the team.

In the end, the key play that ruined the Yankees' season was Bubba Crosby, a mediocre Triple-A center fielder, crashing into Gary Sheffield and allowing two runs to score in the second inning.

I suppose I'm second guessing this: $203 million was never wasted in such a beautiful way, was it, E?

Eric Neel: In the end, the Yanks were undone by their vaunted offense more than their pitching. Mike Mussina wasn't good, but Randy Johnson was, and they were within striking distance all game and couldn't get it done (11 runners left on base). You're right to take a shot at the payroll, at Brian Cashman and The Boss, but the better story here is the relatively cheap 'pen the Angels have and the job it did all series.

David: And the key guy tonight was really their fifth starter, Ervin Santana. Did you have him in your "which pitcher will win Game 5" pool? But if you're a Yankee fan -- pretend to be one here for a second -- who are you second guessing the most tonight? Crosby, for slamming into Sheffield? Joe Torre, for leaving Mussina in too long? Country Joe West, for perhaps blowing the call on Robinson Cano at first base? A-Rod?

Eric: Pretend what? I'd sooner pledge allegiance to Jessica Simpson or swear my undying loyalty to Tom Cruise and his crazy band of Scientology drones. But anyway, Mussina wasn't getting hit hard, so I can see the case for sticking with him, and that's always Torre's way -- to ride out guys' rough patches, show his confidence in them, etc. That's why they love playing for him.

This has to come back to A-Rod. Zero RBI in the series? I don't care how small the sample size is, and I don't care what the effect of random chance is in a short series, the man is The Man for this team, and the man failed. The DP ball in the ninth was emblematic.

David: So you're saying A-Rod will never be a True Yankee (c)? Scott Brosius would have hit a two-run homer in that situation!! As I write this, I'm hearing all the whining from the announcers on the YES Network. Hmm, wonder if they'll call out A-Rod? But as easy -- and fun -- as it is too lay blame on him, the big difference in this series was defense, from the Crosby/Sheffield miscue, to A-Rod's gaffe earlier in the series, to Sheffield being unable catch Bengie Molina's flare in the third tonight, to Darin Erstad's fantastic diving stop for the final out that Giambi wouldn't have caught with a fishing net.

In fact, you'll hear all kinds of junk about how the Angels' "anti-Moneyball" offensive attack won it. That's just wrong -- they were 1-for-5 stealing bases in the series and drew just five walks. The Angels won because they pitched, played D and scratched out enough runs ... with a little help from New York's lead-footed defenders.

Eric: I couldn't care less if A-Rod were a True Yankee (c) or not. That's like saying, am I worried that maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't a True Republican (c)? What I'm saying is, if I'm analyzing this series and where it breaks down for New York -- an activity I relish more than a healthy slice of my friend JP's famous chocolate cream pie, by the way -- I put the onus on the offense, and most especially on Alex Rodriguez. And as for what went right for Anaheim, the answer Ervin Santana tonight. End of story.

David: So the Angels overcome the bad break of Bartolo Colon's injury. Are you second-guessing the bad break of the ALCS schedule, where the Angels have to fly to Chicago and then play their third game in three nights in three different cities?

Eric: I am. There should be a little punishment for going five games, but not this much punishment. Here's the only question that should matter: What makes for a better series? Even Fox execs should agree a close series, well-played, helps them more than a series that simply gets started as scheduled. This is particularly important for TV because the series does not involve one of the media-darling clubs -- Yankees or Red Sox -- and by pushing things back a day they increase the chances of getting exactly that.

That said, there is one other relevant question: If they moved it back, who would tell Ozzie? Could they get one of those programmable Mars-landing rovers to do the work, ya think? Even Ozzie would have to think twice about beating the tar out of a rover, wouldn't he?

David: It doesn't bother me. First, after they play the first two games, that's still only four games in four days. Playoff baseball should test the depth of each team's pitching staff more than it does; I think there should be fewer off days during the postseason. Is the travel unfair? Look, these guys aren't exactly flying next to you and me in coach. I'm guessing Arte Moreno leases a nice comfy jet, with Italian leather seats and the most attractive flight attendants from the greater Orange County area, for the team to fly on. So get over this, E. It's a non-issue.

Eric: So, what's your headline for the ALCS? I got this one:

Angels Advance to Series: Figgins Steals Home in the Clincher.

David: I'm going with the White Sox:

Ozzie Mania Sweeps Chi-Town as Sox Oust Angels in Four Straight

Previous Second Guesses
Oct. 9: 'Chris Burke Game' is an all-timer

Oct. 8: Braves' bullpen stinks it up

Oct. 7: Unit left in too long

Oct. 6: Jumpin' on the White Sox bandwagon

Oct. 5: Why leave Wang in the game?

Oct. 4: Colon over Lackey ... say what?