September 22, 2005
Travis Hafner:
2 HR, 5 RBI in the Indians 8-0 W over the ChiSox. A-Rod and Papi are nice, but if you werent so freaking East-biased, youd give Pronk the AL MVP.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
SECOND.  PLACE.

Like some sort of "Super-Size Me" experiment, the Red Sox spent the last 30 straight days playing baseball.

The result? 17-13, which on its face isn't bad, until you take a look at the standings today: For Red Sox Nation, indigestion.

The defending champs aren't just in second place in the AL East; if the season ended today, they'd be out of the playoffs altogether.

And fans are mocking the White Sox as chokers? They might be picking on the wrong Sox.

Chicago lost to the sizzling Indians; that's understandable. The Red Sox blew a lead to the D-Rays; that's brutal.

The day after, Boston's first day off in a month may do more harm than good.

It'll be a day of questions, of criticism, perhaps even of panic. And with good reason.

Suddenly, Boston isn't just battling the Yankees, but the sizzling Indians and the White Sox, too. In fact, the wild card will be tougher to win than the AL East. But the division is no gimme: Just as the Yankees seem to find an ace for the stretch run (Unit: 1R, 3H, 6K in 2-1 W over BAL), the Red Sox are scrambling. The bullpen is awful.

The Red Sox might display their trademark swagger. They might claim that behind is exactly where they want to be. They might not appear to be worried.

They should be.

Indians: 2.5 GB
CHICAGO -- This new "wild" dynamic trumps even the dramatic situation in the Central, where the Indians pruned the White Sox lead back to 2.5 with that 8-0 shellacking.

Remember: Winning the division would be a bonus, but neither the Indians nor the White Sox really need that as much as they need a postseason ticket, in whatever form it might take.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
David Toms: Star of President's Cup scene outside of DC
Robby Gordon's helmet: Pulled from eBay, then re-listed
Jet Blue: OH MY GOSH...did you see that plane landing?!
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Omar Jacobs: Quickie Heisman fave fizzles in loss at Boise
Curtis Martin: NYJ iron RB misses practice; status unclear
Southern medicine: Doc indicted for giving Panthers roids
 
Bonds, Lou and More
Bonds clocks No. 707: That would be a HR in his 4th straight game. Stop griping at him and marvel at the majesty.

Piniella done in Tampa? So what's next? What team could use a Yankee-killer with no patience for young players or losing?

NL Wild Card: Phillies keep pace with Astros, beat Braves behind Ryan Howard's slam. (This kid's the goods; NL R.O.Y. favorite?)

NFL QB Injury Notes
* Donovan McNabb was held out of practice (along with T.O.), but all signs point to his playing Sunday.

Against Oakland's sorry D, "questionably healthy" should be more than enough.

* Michael Vick was also held out of practice with that gimpy hammy, but he says he'll play.

Question: Is a Vick who can't run more effective in the Falcons' West Coast offense than a Schaub who can't run?

* Byron Leftwich was listed as questionable for Sunday with a groin injury, but with him you never know what it might be.

You also know that from the gritty way he played last week, he might get even better the more injuries he accrues.

Glove to Miami
If nothing else, the Miami Heat have assembled the NBA's most impressive "All-Name" roster since the last time Payton joined a would-be title contender in L.A. And we all know how that turned out.

Rita Watch
Disrupts CFB schedule. Want to know the difference between a big-time program and one that's not?

Rice and Houston postponed their Saturday games into October. Texas A&M didn't want the week off, so it moved its game to tonight.

Thoughts are with all ESPN.com users (and everyone else) in the regions affected by Rita over the next few days.

Jon Garland:
Wasn't he once a Cy Young favorite? That seems like a LONG time ago. Rocked for 5R and 7H in 7IP last night in Chicagos L to Cleveland.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Page 2 index
Stark in Chicago
 
AL Contender Schedules
Indians
at KC, then host TB, CWS
 
Red Sox
at BAL, then host TOR, NYY
 
White Sox
Host MIN, then at DET, CLE
 
Yankees
Host TOR, then at BAL, BOS
 
A's
Host TEX, LAA (4), then at SEA
 

See Big 5 for the Top 5 most favorable AL remaining scheds. Angels are No. 6, hosting spoiler TB, then 4 at OAK and 3 at TEX. Ouch.

Boston's weekend series with Baltimore is intriguing, because the Sox have lost more games than they've won vs. the O's this season.

Today's Must-See MLB Matchup: D-Train vs. Pedro, as marquee as it gets, featuring two SPs in MLB's Top 5. Willis going for 22 Ws.

It's official: Hornets will play in Okla City (with 6 games in B.R.). Will be interesting to see how quickly Oklahomans sour on them.

Converse signs Dwyane Wade to a 7-year endorsement extension. With his new shoe debuting this fall, will he Jordanize the brand?

Law/Order, NBA: It'll be no jail time for the Detroit Palace brawling fans, just probation and community service.



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