September 28, 2005
Arroyo, Chacon,
Contreras and Lee:

Today's starting pitchers for Boston (vs. TOR), New York (vs. BAL), Chicago (vs. DET) and Cleveland (vs. TB). But no pressure or anything.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
BRAVES.  DYNASTY.

14 straight division titles: The Braves Dynasty isn't just baseball's top streak; it's the most impressive streak in sports.

But it begs a question:
Who cares? Do division titles mean anything if they don't come along with World Series championships?

That's a dilemma: Annual playoff runs make for fun summers, but ultimate disappointment when they fall short of a World Series title.

To the rest of the country, Braves fans seem complacent: Like they take division success for granted and take what they get in the playoffs.

I'd argue that's *worse* than missing the playoffs for a decade, but then appreciating it more when it finally happens.

They can keep their 14 division flags.

I'll take 2 titles and a dozen seasons of sub-.500 over Atlanta's 1 title and 13 other seasons of teasingly tasting October but falling short.

AL East
One thing has been clinched: This weekend's huge season finale WILL be a de facto playoff series.

There's also a very good chance it will be winner-take-all (see Wild Card scenario in next item).

But how confident can EITHER team be after their Sunday starters (Mussina and Schilling) were both hit hard yesterday?

AL Central
2 GB with 5 to play, but if the Indians are willing to concede the division title, they can lock up the Wild Card.

How? Let the White Sox have the division, then turn around and let Chicago hand Cleveland the Wild Card.

Here's a three-step best-case scenario for those who love the Midwest (or loathe the East):

(1) Cleveland and Chicago each win both remaining games before their head-to-head series.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Barry Bonds: Hits HR No. 708, only 6 behind Babe
Jimmy Rollins: 32-game hit streak. Running out of season?
Michelle Wie: Why's she going pro? See Japan debut in Nov.
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Dontrelle Willis: Cy hopes battered as D routed in finale
Greg Maddux: 17-year streak of 15+ Ws seems over after L
Felix Hernandez: Blows gem with late stumble trying for CG
 
(For argument's sake and to make it uniformly unlikely, let's assume the Yankees and Red Sox both win today and tomorrow also.)

(2) Then the Indians give the White Sox Friday's game (Chicago clinches the division).

Cleveland will fall 1 GB the NYY-BOS winner (now the AL East leader), but still tied with the NYY-BOS loser for the Wild Card.

(3) Then Chicago tanks the final two games, ensuring the Indians beat out the AL East runner-up by at least a game no matter what happens in Boston.

It's in the White Sox' best interests: Do they really want to face the AL East runner-up in the first round?

It's in the Indians' best interests: Do they really want to risk a guaranteed Wild Card for a chance at a division title?

Collusion, you say? Save it: Teams that have clinched phone it in all the time.

Angels Clinch
With everyone watching the Central and East, the Angels have very quietly slammed the door on the A's in Oakland and clinched their second straight postseason invite.

Between "M-Vlad-P," rookie ace Ervin Santana (who won last night) and the best bullpen of any AL contender, don't be shocked when they advance to the ALCS.

NL Wrap
Wild Card: Astros close to clinching, 2.5 games up after edging the Cards, while the Phillies stumble (again) to the Mets.

No one will be rooting harder for would-be NL Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter when he pitches against the Astros than the Phillies will be.

West: Padres' magic number is 2 after last night's W, but the real magic number is .500. With 5 left, still one game under.

Jets Sign Vinny
It's so bad in New York right now that Herm Edwards has resorted to importing backup Testaverde, who's not bad as much as he is... well, old.

Week 4 is no time to throw in the towel, but Jets fans would totally understand if the team tanked "rebuilt" the rest of the season around drafting either Matt Leinart or Omar Jacobs (or earning a high enough pick to dangle as trade bait for Philip Rivers or Billy Volek).

But you play to win the game!!! But sometimes you play to win next year's games.

Dick Vermeil:
K.C. coach whines about Champ Bailey's MNF monologues while miked up. He should worry less about Champ and more about his Chiefs.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Page 2 Index
MLB Index
 
Ranking World Series Contenders
Indians
Love the Wild Card magic!
 
Yanks and/or BoSox
Would pitching hold up?
 
Cardinals
Memories of '04 sweep
 
Angels
Totally under the radar
 
Braves
(That's right: No CWS or SDP)
 

Today's MLB spotlight: Jose Contreras. The White Sox SP has become the stopper of the late-season slide (7 straight Ws). Can he keep it up?

MLB vs. Congress: Selig will testify before the Senate to talk about the proposed bills for sports testing (some HOF'ers may be on hand).

AL Cy Watch: Too little, too late for Johan? He is the best pitcher in the AL at 15-7 (see last night's 3-1 W), but will that get the votes?

AJ Burnett Watch: Apologizes to team for early-week outburst, but you get the sense that he's only doing it to help his free-agency this winter.



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