The best of Baseball Today

Originally Published: October 3, 2006
By Alan Schwarz | Special to ESPN.com

Everyone had an opinion -- which, of course, is what we pay them for.

Rob Neyer: "The only parallel is the 1964 Phillies, who had a huge lead with two weeks to play and wound up blowing it. The Cardinals are not going to do that."

This Week's Schedule
Monday: Rob Neyer
Tuesday: Gary Gillette
Wednesday: Rob Neyer
Thursday: Jerry Crasnick
Friday: Steve Phillips
Jayson Stark: "A lot of things that have been building up have all come together -- trying to find people to manufacture runs who are not named Albert Pujols, and trying to find someone who can close a game."

Jerry Crasnick: "The Cardinals obviously are feeling pretty tight. And I don't think Tony La Russa, with his demeanor, probably helps in a situation like this. He can make them tighter."

Yep, rubbernecking the Cardinals' car crash of the last two weeks certainly gave us plenty to talk about, but La Russa's crew managed to pry itself from the wreckage and stumble across the finish line. And now a new starting line awaits: the 2006 postseason.

From the stumbling (Cardinals) to the surging (Twins), from the laughable (Tigers) to the laudable (Padres), we covered it all here on Baseball Today, the Fastest 15 Minutes in Baseball. Here are more of last week's highlights -- including this week's upcoming schedule, our hotly contested Crystal Ball standings and the best of our listener mail.

Remember, send us your comments about everything that happens throughout this first week, and we'll get the best comments on the air. And feel free to join in our Crystal Ball game -- if you beat the analysts, we'll make you famous beyond your wildest dreams.

Quotes Of The Week

Monday, Sept. 25: Rob Neyer

On Nomar Garciaparra's surge: "He got his average up to .300 yesterday, which is a good thing considering he's going to be a free agent. A good last week can help him a lot because people are going to notice his [horrible] second half and wonder what they're getting next year."

Tuesday, Sept. 26: Steve Phillips

On Hanley Ramirez: "I think he may take the best of both [Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins] and become the guy that people compare shortstops to. I think Hanley Ramirez has a chance to be one of the most special shortstops to play the game."

Wednesday, Sept. 27: Jerry Crasnick

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On Houston's last-ditch effort: "I said probably three months ago that Houston was the wild-card team. They were the best team, they had the best pitching, they just needed to hit. They never got it together. I think if they had felt a little more of a sense of urgency before, they could have done this."

Thursday, Sept. 28: Gary Gillette

On Pedro Martinez's disintegration Wednesday: "I really thought that the first two tuneup starts were just tuneups and that he would get better. Last night was incredibly dispiriting. It has to be devastating for the Mets' hopes of getting to the World Series."

Friday, Sept. 29: Jayson Stark

On Pedro's injury: "What was the window, and what is the window, to win with Pedro? We knew when they signed him that the window was not four years. It looks now like the window was last year."

Listener Mail

What is with all the attention Derek Jeter is getting for MVP? I'll admit he is a great shortstop but what does he have compared to Justin Morneau this season? Place Jeter in fly-over land Like Minnesota or Detroit and he wouldn't be mentioned nearly as much as he is playing for the Yanks. If you put Jeter up there I think you have to mention Michael Cuddyer and Joe Mauer as well.
-- Eric (Cannon Falls, Minn.)

Why aren't you guys on Baseball Tonight with Krukie? Love it when Schwarz argues with Jayson Stark -- they both know what they're talking about. And I like how you don't focus on the Yankees and Mets too much. And Schwarz is right -- Trevor Hoffman hasn't been mentioned for the Cy Young enough. You can't give it to a starter with 16 wins! C'mon!
-- Ruprecht (Southern California)

You guys are on fire … great show, and can't wait for you to cover the playoffs, because I really like your analysis. (Schwarz really keeps things moving -- you have to pay attention!) I say Joe Mauer for MVP, and let's just hope the Yankees don't power through again … I want to see Johan Santana in the World Series!
-- Steve (Chicago)

Crystal Ball Standings

Does faring well entering the playoffs bode well for your ultimate hopes? Does backing into the top spot mean you're ripe for a fall? Forget the Cardinals -- these are the questions dogging Rob Neyer.

Neyer went 0-3 last week to squander his coveted top spot in our Crystal Ball standings, dropping one percentage point behind Steve Phillips, who went only 1-2. Neyer didn't make things easier for himself by taking my very simple question on Monday, "Dodgers or Phillies?" -- and saying that, actually, he thought it would be the Padres (then up 1½ games) that didn't make the playoffs, and that L.A. and Philly both would. His cavalierly turning a 1-of-2 prediction into a 2-of-2 might ultimately cost him the championship.

Guest Wins Losses Pct. Last Week
Steve
Phillips
20 13 .606 1-2; L.A. holds on, but Pirates finally get hammered
Rob
Neyer
23 15 .605 0-3; Cards keep losing, and Padres don't blow it
Jerry
Crasnick
24 17 .585 2-1; Phils take Marlins series, but Pedro looks awful
Jerry
Crasnick
22 16 .579 2-1; Phils sweep Florida but -- oof! -- Boof beats Schilling
Jayson
Stark
14 11 .560 1-2; Boof -- oof! Also, no tiebreaker game Monday
Gary
Gillette
19 18 .514 2-1; No tiebreaker game, but Radke stuns everyone
Standings through Oct. 3; minimum five weeks of predictions

Alan Schwarz is the host of ESPN.com's Baseball Today and the senior writer of Baseball America. His book, "The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics," can be ordered on Alan's Web site.

Alan Schwarz is the senior writer for Baseball America. His book, "The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics," can be ordered on his website, www.alanschwarz.com.