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Wednesday, September 17, 2008
World Series sets midweek opener for second straight year

ESPN.com news services

The World Series will start on Wednesday, Oct. 22 -- the second straight year the series will begin midweek, rather than on a Saturday.

The first two games will be in the home park of the American League champions, by virtue of the AL's 4-3 extra-inning win in the All-Star Game in July. The middle three will be in the National League champions' home park.

The playoffs will begin with three games on Wednesday, Oct. 1. The schedule includes four days built in for weather delays. If the World Series goes seven games, it would end on Thursday, Oct. 30.

Fans in Southern California are already thinking about a possible Dodgers-Angels World Series. The Angels have clinched the American League West; the Dodgers have a 4½-game lead in the National League West heading into Wednesday's action.

Fans in Chicago are thinking crosstown World Series. The Cubs and White Sox lead their respective divisions, though neither has clinched a playoff berth.

"It would be the greatest thing that ever happened," said former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who guided the Dodgers to two World Series crowns in four appearances during his Hall of Fame career.

"This would be the baseball Mecca for a couple of weeks out here in Southern California, and that would be something special," said Angels skipper Mike Scioscia, who played for Lasorda's title teams in 1981 and '88 and managed the Angels to their only World Series championship six years ago.

Since the Dodgers moved west from Brooklyn in 1958 and the Angels were formed as an expansion team three years later, the two teams have made the playoffs in the same season only once, in 2004. Both were eliminated in the first round that October.

"I could see a lot of shirts being worn out there with one side 'Dodgers' and one side 'Angels,'" Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said. "I think it would be something really big, especially with Mike and myself and a couple other guys who played for the Dodgers in '88 now coaching against the Dodgers.

"It would be a weird situation, but I don't think the rest of the nation would even care."

Lasorda was reluctant to talk much about a possible Freeway World Series because the Dodgers haven't yet ensured a postseason berth.

"We haven't done anything until we clinch it," he said. "We're not going to talk about something we don't have. When the season is over and we've been declared the No. 1 team in the National League West, we've done something."

Scioscia realizes that despite everything his team has accomplished, there's a long way to go before the Angels face the Dodgers, or anyone else, in the World Series.

"That stuff is all going to play itself out," he said. "If it happens to be something that's as special as a Freeway World Series, then that would be great. But our plate's full right now just trying to prepare for whoever we're going to play."

The Dodgers haven't won a playoff series since 1988, when Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson led them past the favored Oakland Athletics in five games. They've made the playoffs only four times since then, going 1-12 in being eliminated in the first round each time.

"They've had some good teams that have reached the playoffs, but they just haven't been able to put together a run like we had in '88," Scioscia said. "It's one of baseball's storied franchises and incredible organizations, and they'll rebound."

The Angels played in the postseason only three times in their first 41 years of existence, but have done so five times in the past seven years -- all under Scioscia, who played for the Dodgers from 1980 to 1992.

Fans in Chicago have their hearts set on a Windy City World Series, with the Cubs and White Sox leading their respective divisions. That's happened once before, in 1906 -- two years before the Cubs last won the World Series.

There have been 14 Subway Series involving New York teams, but only one since the Dodgers and Giants moved to California 50 years ago. That was in 2000, when the Yankees beat the Mets in five games.

"When they had the Mets and the Yankees, the people out west didn't care," Lasorda said.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.