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:
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
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
I'd argue that's *worse* than missing the playoffs for
a decade, but then appreciating it more when it
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.
One thing has been clinched: This
weekend's huge season finale WILL be a de facto
There's also a very good chance it will be
winner-take-all (see Wild Card scenario in next
But how confident can EITHER team be after their
Sunday starters (Mussina and Schilling) were both hit
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
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
||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
It's in the White Sox' best interests: Do they
really want to face the AL East runner-up in the first
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.
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
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
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,
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.
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|
|Page 2 Index|
|Ranking World Series Contenders|
|Love the Wild Card magic!|
|Yanks and/or BoSox|
|Would pitching hold up?|
|Memories of '04 sweep|
|Totally under the radar|
|(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.