September 29, 2005
San Diego Padres:
Bash the Giants 9-1 to clinch the NL West division title. Outrageous, you say? Opposite: One of the most interesting developments of the year. Read on.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
MEDIOCRITY.  RULES.

You play to win the game?

I don't think so:
You play to win the title.

That's why it doesn't matter HOW the Padres qualified for the playoffs; it matters that they qualified at all.

A team doesn't have to be better than everyone else in their league; they only have to be better than the teams in their division.

So the disgrace isn't finishing under .500: Save your contempt for the three other NL West teams that finished behind the Padres.

Wednesday, I argued it would be better to win 2 titles and stink for 12 years than win 14 straight divisions with only one ring to show for it.

Today, I'll argue it's better to make the playoffs with the worst record ever than it is to finish 30 games over .500 and miss them.

(I don't expect any arguments from fans in Boston, New York or Cleveland.)

In fact, just for spite, San Diego should tank its last four games to become the first division champ to make the playoffs with a sub-.500 record.

Remember: Aside from the World Series champ, no one remembers the other playoff teams.

But a sub-.500 Padres?
Baseball immortality!

In a cool ironic twist, for these final four games, you can love their storyline and still get to ask:

"How can you NOT be rooting against them to finish under .500?"

Yanks Take Lead
BOS 1 GB NYY: All last night's developments did is set up an even more thrilling comeback for Boston at Fenway this weekend.

Backs to a wall? No problem.

But wait: The Yankees pitching got a quality outing from Shawn Chacon, while the Red Sox couldn't overcome Bronson Arroyo's mediocrity.

AL MVP Watch: Does A-Rod get Ortiz-like credit for his game-tying HR, even though it came in the 6th, not the 9th?

Meanwhile, a clutch power hitter like Big Papi bunts with the Red Sox down 7-2 ...? Whaaaaat?!

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Jimmy Rollins: Extends hit streak to 33; Phils still alive
Champ Bailey: Hamstring not torn, unapologetic for MNF yak
DNA testing as part of pro physical: Curry case is huge
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Phil Rivers, trade-bait: THIS season (but how about next?)
NFL TV rules: May black out Saints game from San Antonio
MLB.com IPO: MLB turns down chance at huge payday
 
Tribe Troubles?
AL Central: The Indians picked a really bad moment to get shut out and an even worse time for a 3-game losing streak.

With Chicago's 8-2 W, the Indians are 3 GB. The White Sox need one win to clinch the Wild Card and a division magic number of 2.

Yankees fans have to be wondering how good Chicago ace Jose Contreras (8IP, 2R, 7H, 9K, 0BB) would be looking in a NY uniform right now.

AL Wild Watch
Still tied with Boston for the Wild Card, Cleveland can always deploy my plan from yesterday:

Cede the division to the ChiSox, then have Chicago roll over this weekend to steal the WC from the loser of the war of attrition in the AL East.

MLB vs. Congress
"Don't you get it?" could become the lasting catchphrase of the tussle between Congress and baseball.

Since it was directed at union honcho Don Fehr by uber-Senator John McCain, the union has officially lost any bargaining power over testing.

And Fehr's rival, Bud Selig, got to look like the good guy in testifying that an upgraded policy could be in place by the end of the playoffs.

McNabb: In Pain?
Donovan has an abs strain that needs serious surgery, but he can play with the injury IF he's willing to deal with the pain.

From the last two weeks' results, a hurt McNabb is an effective McNabb, so all I'll say is that his grit is admirable and in the best interests of the team.

Maybe this will convince people to forget about those stories from the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl.

Lakers: Playoffs?!
Phil Jackson said his goal for the Lakers this season is simply to make the playoffs. Based on the talent he's working with, even that seems a bit lofty.

Please explain: What has changed since last year? Bringing in Phil? Or Kwame Brown? Plus: Everyone else in the West has gotten better, too.

He may not be an Xs and Os guy, but Phil is a master at managing expectations. Not just for his team, but for the media, too.

Iowa Thinks Pink
Iowa is not getting rid of its controversial pink visitors' locker room. But maybe they should:

What does it say about the quality of the program that they need to resort to lame psychological ploys to try to gain an "edge" over opponents?

North Dakota:
NCAA denies its appeal to keep nickname "Fighting Sioux." Expect a lawsuit next. Better idea is to undercut their rivals to the south and call themselves the "Fighting Dakotans."
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Page 2 Index
NHL Preview
 
Today's Key MLB Games
TOR at BOS
Downs vs. import ace Clement
 
NYY at BAL
Sensation Small vs. Bedard
 
TB at CLE
Fossum vs. stopper Sabathia
 
CWS at DET
Garcia vs. Grilli (1, ESPN)
 
CHC at HOU
Phillies have the day off
 

NL Wild Card: Credit the Astros for gutting out a 9th-inning W to sweep the Cards and maintain a 2.5-game lead over Philly.

More MLB/Congress: Hank Aaron is a class act. When asked what should be done with tainted HR records, Aaron said it was up to the league, not him.

I seem to be sensing a lot of p.r. for the Tarver-Jones fight on Saturday, but is it really deserving? Prediction coming tomorrow.

Are the Marlins really that concerned w/ Miggy Cabrera's attitude? Because as a Top 3 young player, I'm sure other teams would love the problems.

Coming Friday: Complete NFL Week 4 and CFB weekend preview. Games of the Week, Upset Specials and more.



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