BASEBALL TONIGHT EXTRA

An unexpected Final Four


We have a final foursome now that the Indians have dispatched of the Yankees, and it's fair to say that few expected three of these four teams to reach this point in the season.

You would have gotten pretty long odds that the Rockies and Diamondbacks would be the last two teams standing, and for good reason. Both were sub-.500 clubs in 2006 and were heavily reliant on young talent for key stretches in 2007. Those are two factors that don't lend themselves to strong postseason showings, but both managed to defy conventional wisdom and do what must be done at this point: survive and advance.

The Red Sox were expected to reach this point, but they were supposed to be facing the Yankees, not the Indians. Those Yankees fans hoping to face the Indians instead of the Angels realize now that they should have been more careful what they wished for. The Indians showed they belonged with their Division Series performance, and armed with two of the best pitchers in baseball, they will loom as a very formidable foe for Boston when the ALCS commences on Friday.

2007 NLCS MATCHUP
REGULAR SEASON
Rockies Diamondbacks
Wins 10 8
Runs/G 4.8 4.0
BA .280 .248
HR 9 14
2007 ALCS MATCHUP
REGULAR SEASON
Indians Red Sox
Wins 2 5
Runs/G 3.6 4.9
BA .223 .282
HR 6 8

LESSONS LEARNED THIS POSTSEASON

You can stop at the Grand Canyon, or maybe Zion on the off-day drive. And while you're out there on the run from Phoenix to Denver, you can think about where the Texas Rangers might be today had Tom Hicks listened to former Rangers GM Doug Melvin instead of talking heads. Or how the Orioles might actually be relevant if Peter Angelos listened to anyone. Or what the Houston Astros might be with rational ownership.

It was Melvin, now the Brewers' GM, who made the point last month that when the Yankees and Red Sox decided to go with young players in the heat of the pennant race that the free agent market might be devalued, and that Brian Cashman and Theo Epstein had built organizations with vast wingspans. But this offseason is about far more than Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury. It is about watching the Indians' organization, for instance, rise like the Trump Towers.

And now, it's about watching the Diamondbacks and the Rockies and some of the best young players in the game in this, the Josh Byrnes October, since the current Arizona GM has had a prominent hand in the building of the Indians, Rockies and Red Sox as well as his own team. ...

Read more of Peter's blog Insider

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"This has been a great 12 years. Whatever the hell happens from here on out, I'll look back on these 12 years with great, great pleasure. The 12 years just felt like they were 10 minutes long, to be honest with you."

-- Yankees manager Joe Torre, after his team was eliminated in the AL Division Series, likely spelling the end of his managerial reign in New York.

BASEBALL TONIGHT MINUTE
Who's going to the World Series? Buster Olney makes his picks in the ALCS and NLCS as he and Karl Ravech preview the next round of the playoffs.
A-ROD WATCH
Alex Rodriguez Alex Rodriguez had a solo home run and a single in Game 4 of the AL Division Series as the Yankees were eliminated from the postseason. The home run was A-Rod's first in the playoffs since the 2004 ALCS.

Here are his updated postseason numbers:

2007 ALDS:
4-for-15 (.267), 1 HR, 1 RBI
POSTSEASON CAREER:
39 G, .279 BA, 7 HR, 17 RBI, .483 SLG
CAREER WITH YANKEES:
24 G, .245, 4 HR, 9 RBI, .436 SLG
PAST 16 GAMES:
8-for-56 (.143), 1 HR, 1 RBI
THIS DATE IN POSTSEASON HISTORY
OCT. 9
If Oct. 8 was best known for great pitching performances, Oct. 9 shall be remembered in postseason history as a day for great walk-off moments, such as ...

2005: Burke ends marathon
Chris Burke's 18th inning home run gives the Astros a series-clinching win over the Braves in Game 4 of their NLDS matchup. Houston had rallied from five runs down to tie, evening the score on a ninth-inning home run by Brad Ausmus.
1999: Pratt the bat
Todd Pratt, subbing for an injured Mike Piazza, ends the Mets NLDS with the Diamondbacks with a walk-off home run off Matt Mantei, just over the glove of Arizona outfielder Steve Finley, to win Game 4. It was the first of two clutch moments in the postseason for Pratt. In Game 5 of the NLCS, Pratt would precede Robin Ventura's "grand slam single" with a game-tying walk.
1996: Bern, baby, Bern
Probably the most memorable of Bernie Williams 22 postseason home runs (tied for Manny Ramirez for most all-time) was his walk-off home run against Randy Myers to end Game 1 of the ALCS and give the Yankees a win over the Orioles. This was the famous "Jeffrey Maier" game in which the young Yankees fan reached over the wall to deflect Derek Jeter's fly ball in the eighth inning, ruled a game-tying home run.
WALK-OFF RBI
POSTSEASON GAMES ON OCT. 9
Chris Burke 2005 NLDS
Todd Pratt 1999 NLDS
Bernie Williams 1996 ALCS
Al Oliver 1985 ALCS
Ken Oberkfell 1982 NLCS
Bert Campaneris 1973 ALCS
Jackie Robinson 1956 WS
Del Gainer 1916 WS

 

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