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WITH THE FINISH LINE IN SIGHT, BASEBALL'S FINALISTS REACH FOR THE TUG OF DESTINY

Updated: July 10, 2012, 3:03 PM ET
By STEVE WULF, GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI, TIM KURKJIAN, JERRY CRASNICK

Every champion has a belief system, a marriage of fate and faith. It could be a slogan: only "Idiots" could defy such long odds and such a long-term curse last year. It could be an appendage: the electric arm of Josh Beckett, who pitched the Marlins to victory over the Yankees in 2003, or the gimpy legs of Kirk Gibson in 1988. It could be something as monumental as 86 years of futility, or something as incidental as Giants manager Dusty Baker giving Russ Ortiz a game ball as a souvenir in the ...

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