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Thanks to a glorious run by the Yankees, New York has been represented in MLB's postseason since the good ol' days when Commissioner Bud Selig heard "steroids" and thought "cool video game." For the record, we are harking all the way back to 1995, which may even predate the Macarena. It also should be noted that the not-exactly frugal Mets avoided an absolute, playoff-missing gag three times during that span.

So, while the Wrecking Ball Classic prevails in the Big Apple, Bud's league faces an October with its biggest media market in dry dock. But before you fully embrace the arrival of the Tampa Bay Rays and the tactical grandeur of small (market) ball, please note that big towns aren't exactly extinct from baseball's second season.

And, with many thanks owed the Yankees, New York has a quasi-attachment to October, 2008, with Joe Torre escorting the Los Angeles Dodgers into the National League Division Series.

Before surrendering to the notion that TV ratings and virtual hubbub will be circling the drain, let's embrace the reality that if the Chicago White Sox and their socially bankrupt manager can rise to the occasion, half of this year's playoff teams will hail from two of the nation's top three media markets.

The ChiSox, whose fairly recent World Series triumph prevents manager Ozzie Guillen from being fired and having his mouth washed out with soap (we're not sure which should come first), would be a fairly interesting draw. In addition to their ability to clout many home runs despite the loss of slugger Carlos Quentin, Chicago's AL entrant could generate tasty clubhouse or dugout conflict. Never forget that Guillen is capable of publicly insulting his players on less than three days of rest. His heroic candor may not have worked to inspire a performance upgrade from pitcher Javier Vazquez (12 earned runs in 8.1 innings since Ozzie's vote of confidence) but it least it proves that, boy, Guillen sure knows his team.

One guaranteed playoff franchise from the Windy City has swaggered in from the North Side.

MLB roundup


Postseason picture


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Monday's action


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Lou Piniella's Cubs have the NL's best record, a bullpen that doesn't inspire night sweats, a lineup with zero lousy hitters and a rotation that could be built for October success.

Oh, they also have that streak of not winning the World Series since man evolved into a creature with two eyebrows.

But let's get back to the rotation. Its perceived ace is Carlos Zambrano, whose recent no-hitter was sandwiched between a pair of starts that were unilateral insults to batting-practice pitchers.

"Big Z" started Game 1 of the 2007 NLDS in Phoenix, but was pulled early by Piniella in a move that assured Cubs fans that Zambrano would be rested and ready to go for spring training of '08. So, as Cub fans grind their teeth, Zambrano and his reported dead-arm crisis continue to inspire great mystery.

Seemingly more reliable is former closer Ryan Dempster, who's tougher to defeat at Wrigley Field than Mike Ditka on the mike in the middle of the seventh. The best stuff among the starters (maybe in the entire league) is offered by Rich Harden, another Oakland A's refugee who — contrary to widespread expectation — has not yet required right-arm amputation. Ted Lilly, the Cub interpretation of a crafty lefty, has 17 victories and an ERA that suggests great run support.

Many of the Cubs' bit players are having career years and the big-ticket hitters have been good enough to make the lineup dangerous. Piniella also has a deep bench that has everything except a guy named Murphy (the Cubs did have a guy named Murton, but he was a goner in the Harden deal).

Our next stop is Los Angeles, which — thanks to the miracle of marketing — has become a suburb of Anaheim. Anaheim is where you'll find the gee-aren't-we-smart-guys' pick to win the World Series.

By the time baseball sharpies realized Erik Bedard would not pitch the Seattle Mariners into the World Series, the Angels already had locked up the AL West. Unfortunately, their offense was a bit too much like free cold pizza — good enough, but not great.

Enter the expiring contract of Mark Teixeira, who turns into the spawn of Godzilla with runners on base. Much like Dr. Phil, Tony Robbins and soft lighting, Teixeira makes everyone around him better.

The Angels' starting rotation lacks a superhero, but closer Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez holds the single-season record for most saves in one, drop-to-your-knees season. It must be admitted that the team from Los Angeles of Anaheim might be completely likeable if Rodriguez could avoid celebrating each final out like someone who's won the showcase on The Price is Right.

But K-Rod is no match for Manny Ramirez in the art of violating unwritten (we presume) baseball protocol.

Manny, who probably wouldn't have run out a fire alarm during his last days in Boston, still has enough new-karma smell to keep the Dodger clubhouse (and lineup) viable.

However, in taking on the Cubs, Ramirez must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with several position players and pitchers who offer little (if any) postseason experience. The Dodgers, who've done nothing in October in 20 years, did welcome back shortstop Rafael Furcal, who just returned after months in injury exile, and second baseman Jeff Kent, who's back just in time for the Mr. Popularity write-in vote.

What Torre does vis-a-vis his kids and that sprinkling of veterans should be interesting enough to keep us up on playoff nights.

Even though Torre's snub by Hank Steinbrenner has its residents a bit irritable, these clashes involving Chicago, Los Angeles and Los Angeles of Anaheim may not be enough to make it (interesting) in New York.

All of this means Joba Chamberlain may have to face this year's insect blitz without the benefit of a national TV audience.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 29, 2008

Seattle Mariners News

News » Primer for a postseason without New York


Primer for a postseason without New York


Primer for a postseason without New York
In the midst of its exploding-bat crisis, Major League Baseball's next challenge is to gather sufficient playoff momentum to hold off the NFL and presidential debates without crucial participation from New York City.

It won't be easy.

Postseason matchups


NLDS
  • Brewers vs. Phillies, Wed., Oct. 1
  • Dodgers vs. Cubs, starts Wed., Oct. 1
    ALDS
  • Twins or White Sox vs. Rays, Thu., Oct. 2
  • Red Sox vs. Angels, Wed., Oct. 2
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