October 5, 2005
Early LDS leads:
Yankees score 3 in 1st and win. White Sox score 5 in 1st and win. Cards score 1 in 1st and win. Notice a pattern here? Lesson: Tune in early.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

1917 is the new 1918:
That's my brilliant new T-shirt slogan idea.

But if the 2004 Red Sox accomplished anything, they totally ruined fans' ability to enjoy instant history after early playoff results.

In a pre-2004 mentality, the defending champs would be reeling.

Weren't these White Sox supposed to win with "small ball?" Wasn't Matt Clement supposed to be the new Pedro?

But the 2004 ALCS forced us all to say: Well, let's just wait and see how this plays out. ("Wait and see?" That's just so lame.)

But is it appropriate? After all, Boston tries to stop the bleeding with David Wells, playoff-clutch an era ago, most recently "backing" out.

And the Red Sox face a normally rock-steady Mark Buehrle, whose second-half dud (like the entire team) belies a Cy-finalist season.

Or this: Best-of-5 ain't best-of-7. Losing Game 1 means more. After all, if the 2004 ALCS was 5 games, there'd be no Greatest Comeback Ever.

"No need to panic" -- the lesson of the Red Sox in 2004 -- might be the wrong reaction in 2005.

Red Sox Nation can't possibly feel right without its sense of urgency. Maybe after today, they'll find it.

Then again, maybe it'll be too late.

Because if it takes win-or-go-home games to get fans to care, the real legacy of the '04 champs will be they ruined early-series playoff drama.

Yankees Jump Angels
It's going to be tough for the Angels to meet the lofty expectations of ESPN.com experts if they can't steal an LDS opener at home, against the Yankees' most inconsistent pitcher, using their own Cy-worthy ace, after New York had to fly across the country.

Jim Leyland: New Tigers manager. Smoke 'em if you got 'em!
Jon Daniels: Rangers name youngest GM (28) in MLB history
Juan Gonzalez: Defends Palmeiro to House investigators
Sammy Sosa in Japan: Says he'd rather play in Baltimore
Keenan McCardell: Must repay Bucs $1.5 mil for holdout
Kyle Orton: You've seen those pics, right? (via Deadspin)
Today: Wang vs. Lackey. (Who am I kidding? The biggest story line of this game is the 10 p.m. start.

Oh, there's a coast bias, all right … against the East!)

4 p.m. ET: Astros/Braves
I'm not sure if there are any seats left on the Astros bandwagon, but I'm sure you can -- as always -- still get walk-up tickets to see a playoff game in Atlanta.

Today: Pettitte vs. Hudson. Isn't this why the Braves got Hudson? Wait: Isn't this why the Astros got Pettitte? Only one of them is considered the Mr. October of pitchers, and it ain't the guy from Atlanta.

Cards Thump Padres
OK, so my whole "Padres-shock-Cards" thing was based on ace Jake Peavy's winning Game 1, sparking SD, then winning Game 5.

Unfortunately, he was shelled for 8 runs in 4.1 IP and he has a broken rib or two, so he's done for the playoffs.

Uh, is it too late to change my prediction to "Cards in 3?"

NHL Season Opens
Hockey's die-hard fans will return like nothing happened; the NHL's problem is that the rest of us are watching not to see the action on the ice, but what they call in politics a "process story" -- how the league is doing winning back fans, particularly on TV.

More key story lines:
*New rules: Means more goals?
*Gretzky: Can a coach play?
*Crosby: Great Hype Hope?
*Turin: Keep eye on February
*Cup: Watch Canada (OTT, CAL)

49ers to Start Smith
Here's a hint: DON'T pick up Alex Smith to be your starting fantasy QB this week.

Not in the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick's NFL regular-season debut (his exhibition performances were woeful).

And not against the suddenly D-dominant Colts (Niners using a backup LT against Dwight Freeney).

Let's hope Nolan isn't setting this kid up to become the next David Carr. Remember HIS rookie year? Spent on his back (and hasn't recovered).

Matt Clement:
Even though he carried the Boston rotation at times this season, Red Sox Nation quickly forgets, in the face of an ugly postseason implosion.
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Page 2 Index
Ranking Wed. LDS SPs
Andy Pettitte
Said yesterday: Mr. Oct
Mark Buehrle
Remember his first half?
John Lackey
Better than Bartolo?
Chien-Ming Wang
Held NY rotation together
Tim Hudson
Did you think I'd say "Wells?"

Tuesday's unlikely MLB LDS stars: Reggie Sanders (6 RBI); AJ Pierzynski (HR); Rob Cano (huge early RBIs … "playoff tough" enough for you, Jeter?)

Vote of confidence (or kiss of death?): Vikings coach Mike Tice gets the dreaded "backing our coach 100 percent" line from owner Zigy Wilf.

Anyone catch T.O. on Letterman Tuesday night? Great question by Dave: Which other QB would T.O. like to play with? Owens answered "Peyton Manning."

Michelle Wie turning pro today: Have argued before that this is great for her and great for golf. More on it tomorrow.

More MLB manager talk: Jim Tracy is rumored to be the front-runner for the Pirates job. How about Braves 3B coach Fredi Gonzalez?

Let's hope the IOC takes Tuesday's pitch from softball advocates seriously and reinstates the sport for 2012.

Hope they love Streetball in Houston: Flashy street-to-pro PG Rafer Alston traded from Raptors to Rockets for Mike James, who's no streetballer.

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