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Friday, October 21, 2005
Page 2 Quickie: October 20, 2005

The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

So who to root for:

The team with the hundred-year legacy that hasn't won since 1917?

Or the team with the 40-year legacy that has never won, period?

Love the White Sox' brand of futility: "If you loved Boston's quest to exorcise the ghosts of 1918, we can do you one better!"

On the other hand, there's nothing quite like the prospects of witnessing something that no one has ever seen: Astros as World Champs.

Really, the biggest winners are the fans: Ignore the fraction with a rooting interest, and the rest of us can sit back and enjoy the novelty.

And if history isn't your thing, how about a refreshing change from the usual "wait for the home run," in favor of pitching-pitching-pitching:

Between Houston's "Big 3" and Chicago's own "Big 4," expect games to be taut, fast and exciting late -- three ingredients for a compelling Series.

The teams may not have the brand-name cachet of others eliminated earlier. But it's a great change of pace from recent years to not really care who wins and simply enjoy the Series for its own sake.

So the answer to the question "Do you have a rooting interest?" is simple:


Astros Win NLCS
But it begs the question: Is simply getting to the World Series that meaningful?

Or does a team really have to win it all in order to appreciate it?

Just ask the 2004 Cardinals.
Or, say, Eagles fans.

I suppose being part of the first Astros team to reach a World Series is special, but if they don't win a ring, it is severely diminished.

Cards: New Braves?
In at least one crucial way, the Cards are even bigger underachievers than the Braves:

At least the Braves have a title to show for their many postseason appearances.

The Cards have become playoff staples out of the NL Central, yet can't seem to find the magic to put together a championship run.

Is it Tony La Russa? Dare I question one of the most respected managers in baseball?

Let's put it this way: "Three Nights in August" may get you a book deal and a division title, but he has yet to solve "Four Wins in Late October."

(Yes, L aRussa won a title with the A's in '89, but he's been shut out with the Cards. And shouldn't that Oakland group have won more titles?)

Mazzone to O's?
The Yankees dropped out, which created a huge opportunity for the Orioles to swoop in and sign the pitching coach (Balto manager Sam Perlozzo was the best man at Leo's wedding).

But it's the O's, so you know there's got to be a snag. Here it is: The Braves reportedly want a prospect in return for letting Mazzone out of his deal a month early, and the O's are balking.

Marlins Hire Girardi
If the Torre disciple can apply a little of his mentor's clubhouse calm to the talented (but fractured) Marlins, Florida will be the team to beat in the NL East next season.

MJ: "I was stupid"
Jordan will be on "60 Minutes" this Sunday and offer a mea culpa (if not contrition) about his serious gambling habit.

"Stupid," he admits: Until he stumbled as an executive, Jordan's gambling was the one part of his life that didn't gibe with his uber-image.

He chalks it up to competitiveness, which I'll buy. But what's the media's excuse for giving him a free pass that no other player would get?