Sept. 23, 2003
Jason Schmidt:
Too melodramatic to say that the Giants ace pitches tonight vs. the Astros with the NL Cy Young on the line?
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
PLAYOFF.  PAYOFF.

As the Marlins and Phillies battle head-to-head in a virtual NL Wild Card playoff, what's wrong with this picture:

Thanks to MLB's ridiculous rule that teams from the same division can't play each other in the Division Series, if the Braves end with the NL's best record, they won't get the presumed benefit of playing the Wild Card team (let's say Fla or Phi).

Atlanta's reward for having the best season? Facing either the Cubs' or Astros' formidable short-series pitching staffs -- certainly better than Philly's or Florida's.

Forget the logical-but-flawed 1-to-4 re-seeding idea: Let the team with the best record pick its Division Series opponent from the remaining three teams. Who wants to face Prior and Wood in a best-of-5?

Broncos: Smoke, Mirrors?
Forgive if I don't jump on the Broncos bandwagon just yet: Revitalized Jake Plummer is a treat to watch, but last night's 31-10 stomping on Oakland did more to expose the Raiders as has-beens (and confirm Rich Gannon as a walking anger-management problem) than establish the Broncos as contenders.

Stink of schedule: Denver has also beaten the Bengals and the Chargers (combined 0-6). Let's reserve judgment until Week 5, when the Broncos play at Kansas City.

Brian Ur-macker
Brian Urlacher was seen macking with Paris Hilton in Vegas this weekend, the New York Post's Page Six blabs this morning. So apparently only the Bears' offense can't score this season.

NEED TWO FOR DAVE MATTHEWS IN CENTRAL PARK!
THE SET-UP: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR TODAY
1 Phillies at Marlins: Millwood vs. Willis. Here we go
2 NL Central watch: Giants at Astros, Cubs at Reds
3 AL Wild Card watch: Red Sox host O's; M's at Angels
THE SIT-DOWN: DROP THESE FROM YOUR HOT LIST
1 Barry Larkin's Reds career: Rejects sickly 1-year deal
2 Texas football's media boycott: As if we missed them ...
3 Florida QB rotation: Embattled Zook to start frosh Leak
 
MAC: Morning After
It's early in the party, you're drunk and you've met a hottie: It's September, and the MAC is knocking off all these big names in non-conference games. Let's go up to my room!

Now it's the morning after, you roll over and -- yikes! -- what the heck did you go home with? That's the MAC once it ramps up the league play. And now your friends are laughing at you.

Unfortunately, the MAC elite can't play a full season against BCS teams: Marshall, Toledo, et al hold our interest as lovely Cinderellas; playing against each other, the matchups turn back into dogs.

Clarett Watch
Guess the NFL's reaction to meeting with Maurice's lawyers last night:

(A) Sympathic laughter
(B) Mocking laughter
(C) Annoyed laughter
(D) Uneasy laughter

Worst. Team. Ever.
Any race for "all-time" status becomes must-see -- even if it's "all time" for sucking:

The Tigers "magic number" is 3: That would be three games (with six remaining) to break the '62 Mets modern record of 120 losses (broke AL record 118 last night).

If Detroit can eke out an oh-fer-finish, we'll throw in the "worst-ever" title for free.

Rasheed Wallace:
It has been an awkwardly long time without a Blazers run-in with police: Ticketed for driving with a suspended license and without insurance.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
P2: TMQ
SN: Vote for your MLB awards
CFB: The Power 16
 
Ranking NFL's Top 5:
Chiefs (3-0)
They've played: SD, Pit, at Hou
 
Bucs (2-1)
They've played: at Phi, Car, at Atl
 
Colts (3-0)
They've played: at Cle, Ten, Jax
 
Broncos (3-0)
They've played: at Cin, at SD, Oak
 
Panthers (2-0)
They've played: Jax, at TB, bye
 

Fall TV preview, Part I -- Returning shows:

The Bachelor: Not-so-fat, still-funny Bob will be best hero yet. Unattractive guy makes good! ...

The OC: Here's an image -- '90210' for a new generation ...

CSI: Please -- more forensics, less personal-life subplots ...

Sorkin or no Sorkin, West Wing can't kill off Zoe Bartlet, can they? ...

If more people under 35 actually watched "Raymond," there might be a backlash against its ridiculous annual Emmy hauls ...



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