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Rays-Red Sox AL East showdown

This is the stuff memorable baseball is made of: Two division rivals who don't like each other much, separated by 1½ games atop the standings, meet in the heat of summer in a four-game series that could turn the playoff race on a dime.

That's what we'll get to see as the Rays, winners of 15 of their last 17 games, visit Fenway Park for a four-game series against the AL East-leading Red Sox starting Monday. Tampa Bay has made hay during a soft stretch in its schedule and could leave Boston with the division lead. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have held steady, going 10-6 in July despite multiple pitching injuries. Want more drama? These teams have already cleared the dugouts once this season and more brushback pitches wouldn't come as a surprise. Which team will emerge with the AL East lead? Vote below!

  • How will this week's four game series between the Rays and Red Sox at Fenway Park be decided?

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      4%
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      19%
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      52%
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      22%
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      3%

    Discuss (Total votes: 28,175)

  • How will the Red Sox and Rays fare this season?

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      50%
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      26%
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      12%
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      8%
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      4%

    Discuss (Total votes: 6,994)

  • Do the Red Sox need to trade for pitching to be a legit World Series threat?

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      73%
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      27%

    Discuss (Total votes: 6,879)

  • Which Red Sox AL East rivalry has been more intense this season?

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      67%
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      33%

    Discuss (Total votes: 6,858)

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As fans of the comedy series "Portlandia'' know, the secret to merchandising is to slap a bird on it. And apparently, the same holds true for baseball uniforms.

After four rounds of voting, tigers, fish, elephants, snakes, astronauts, seafarers, gun-toting officers of the law, buccaneers, heavenly bodies, Native Americans, pinstriped Northeners and even two pairs of colored socks are all gone. Our Battle of the Uniforms will finish with the Battle of the Birds.

#UniBattle

The No. 1-seeded Cardinals, who have as iconic a St. Louis design as the Gateway Arch or a bottle of Bud, beat their longtime rival, the Chicago Cubs, in the final round of the National League voting, 54 percent to 46 percent.

Meanwhile, the Cinderella team of the American League bracket upset yet another higher-seeded team in the AL championship. By a margin of 3,103 votes, fans declared they prefer the orange and black Baltimore Orioles over the traditional uniform worn by everyone from Babe Ruth to Derek Jeter. Or perhaps fans just hate the Yankees' pinstripes.

Whatever the reason, it's the Cardinals versus the Orioles for the title of baseball's best uniform. Bird watchers should get their binoculars out for this ornithological fight, though Toronto fans are probably wondering why their colorful Jay was found wanting.

This is serious business, so to make sure that everyone gets a chance to take a long, careful look at these two uniforms and judge the colors, logos, caps and overall style of both home and road uniforms, our polls will be open throughout the weekend. You can cast your vote up until noon ET Monday, when we will declare the winner.

So good luck Cardinals and Orioles. May the better uniform win. And remember voters, this isn't about who actually wears the uniforms but the uniforms themselves.

--Jim Caple

Note: Championship-round poll closes at noon ET Monday.

Mobile users: To vote, click here.

Battle of the Uniforms: Championship


(1) Cardinals vs. (13) Orioles

Audubon would have loved this championship.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

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    41%
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    59%

Discuss (Total votes: 147,418)

Battle of the Uniforms seedings

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We've now reached the final four. Or, if you prefer, we've reached the league championship series.

#UniBattle

Either way, the Battle of the Uniforms is now in the home stretch (or as a malapropism-prone boss of mine once liked to say, "the home run stretch"). In the American League, the Orioles are facing the Yankees, and the National League crown has come down to the Cubs and the Cards.

The seedings, done by Jim Caple and myself, have largely proven accurate. Three of the final four teams were seeded either No. 1 or No. 2 in their respective leagues, which means our uni assessments are largely in line with yours. The lone outlier is Baltimore, which was seeded 13th but upset the top-seeded Tigers.

I'll admit it: I was kind of hoping for a rogue uniform design to make it to the semifinals, just to make things interesting. The Diamondbacks, say, or the Marlins. And I was seriously rooting for the A's to upset the Yanks (they came thisclose). In the end, though, the classic designs have won. And that makes sense: The classics are classic for a reason.

The cool thing about the Battle of the Unis is that several on-field rivalries have been echoed at the ballot box. Wednesday we had the Yankees just eking out a victory of the Red Sox (whose fans were no doubt chanting "Yankees suck!" as they clicked on the Sox icon), and now we have a classic National League matchup, as Chicago and St. Louis face off for Senior Circuit supremacy.

So who's going to advance to the uniform World Series? You folks get to decide that. But I'll say this: I'm voting for the teams with the feathers.

--Paul Lukas

LCS-round polls close at 9 a.m. ET Friday, and the championship round begins shortly thereafter.

Mobile users: To vote, click here.

Jim Caple bracket: American League


(2) Yankees vs. (13) Orioles

The Birds have upset three teams so far, but can they knock off the Pinstripers for the AL title?

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

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    41%
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    59%

Discuss (Total votes: 36,353)

Paul Lukas bracket: National League


(1) Cardinals vs. (2) Cubs

These two teams have always had an on-field rivalry. Good to see that's extending to their uniforms.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

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    54%
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    46%

Discuss (Total votes: 36,237)

Battle of the Uniforms seedings

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Whew! That was a close one.

The New York Yankees -- wearers of pinstripes, owners of the most identifiable uniform in American sports, and so wealthy their sleeves should come with gold cuff links -- nearly went down to defeat at the hands of the budget-conscious Athletics, who gave baseball yellow and green uniforms.

#UniBattle

Yes, it's true. The Yankees' famous NY logo was nearly beaten by the Athletics' elephant patch in a second-round matchup so close that Nate Silver could not have been able to call it. After a nip-and-tuck battle, the Yankees finally escaped with a slender 51-49 percent victory to advance to Wednesday's quarterfinals.

It was a tough day for Bay Area fans, who lost another squeaker when the Giants lost 51-49 to the Pirates. It seems the Bay Area needs to expand its population base just a bit.

The rest of the battles were won by fairly wide margins, including the battle of the Soxes (Boston beat Chicago). That sets up an interesting matchup with another battle in the never-ending Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. Good luck, guys, and remember: Bloody socks matter only if the voters can see them.

That isn't the only matchup of teams with old-school classic looks, though. The No. 1-seeded Tigers, who still are dressed roughly the way they were when Al Kaline was in right field, take on the Cinderellas of the bracket, the No. 13-seeded Orioles, who handily beat the Royals.

Over in the National League, the No. 1-seeded Cardinals will take on the Pirates, with the Dodgers and Cubs going head to head. This has not been a great season for either Los Angeles or Chicago, but at least one of those teams will win this round.

Who will advance to the Final Four? That's up to you. Polls are open until 9 a.m. ET Thursday morning.

--Jim Caple

Mobile users: To vote, click here.

Jim Caple bracket: American League


(1) Tigers vs. (13) Orioles

Will the Tigers eat the birds? Or will the Orioles fly away to victory?

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

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    47%
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    53%

Discuss (Total votes: 62,088)


(2) Yankees vs. (6) Red Sox

So we have yet another battle between these bitter rivals. The winner of this battle may be the uniform with the fewest blood stains.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

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    51%
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    49%

Discuss (Total votes: 62,474)

Paul Lukas bracket: National League


(1) Cardinals vs. (4) Pirates

Fun fact: Cardinals team president Bill DeWitt III is heavily involved in the team's uniform decision-making. Gotta love that level of passion!

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

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    56%
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    44%

Discuss (Total votes: 60,629)


(2) Cubs vs. (6) Dodgers

The Cubbies may finally have a championship within their grasp, even if it's only in the uniform bracket.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

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    51%
  •  
    49%

Discuss (Total votes: 60,467)

Battle of the Uniforms seedings

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As a wise man once said, "Vote early and often." And that's exactly what baseball fans did Monday, as the first-round balloting in the Battle of the Uniforms attracted an enthusiastic electorate and gave us some interesting results.

The Yankees' uniforms trouncing the Indians' look? No surprise there. Ditto for the Phillies over the Diamondbacks and the Giants over the Rockies, among others. Still, there were some mild upsets, such as the Twins beating the Angels and, in the biggest eyebrow raiser of the first round, the Nationals beating the Mets.

That Nats-Mets outcome was the closest race of the first round, with Washington prevailing by 55 percent to 45 percent. Most of the other contests were blowouts. Look at some of these numbers:

• Orioles over Astros, 79 percent to 21 percent.

• Red Sox over Mariners, 73 percent to 27 percent.

• Pirates over Marlins, 81 percent to 19 percent.

And so on. The biggest landslide? The Cubbies trounced the Padres by a whopping 86 percent to 14 percent, offering convincing proof that San Diego needs to go back to the drawing board and get some new uniforms (and giving beleaguered Cubs fans a little morsel of success to feel good about).

#UniBattle

As for the second round, there are some intriguing matchups. In the American League, Boston faces off against Chicago -- a battle of the Sox! And in the National League, the Pirates and Giants will be reminding people that they were wearing black long before it became a trendy color.

The most interesting pairing in this round, though, finds the Yankees, the ultimate example of old-fashioned aesthetic tradition, facing the A's, whose green-and-gold look ushered in baseball's Technicolor era. It's old-school versus new-school. Too bad George Steinbrenner and Charlie Finley aren't around to witness it -- they'd likely be voting along with the rest of us.

--Paul Lukas

Note: Second-round polls close at 9 a.m. ET Wednesday, and the next round begins shortly thereafter.

Mobile users: To vote, click here.

Jim Caple bracket: American League


(1) Tigers vs. (9) Twins

Can one D beat a T and a C (plus an occasional M)? It can if it's old English.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

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    71%
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    29%

Discuss (Total votes: 56,468)


(2) Yankees vs. (10) Athletics

It cost roughly $200 million to dress the Yankees in their pinstripes. The Athletics went to a thrift shop but still look @#&% awesome.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

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    51%
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    49%

Discuss (Total votes: 56,259)


(3) White Sox vs. (6) Red Sox

Sigh. If only these two teams wore their pant legs high enough that we would actually see the socks that are the entire basis for their names.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

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    40%
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    60%

Discuss (Total votes: 55,219)


(5) Royals vs. (13) Orioles

Great battle between Royals blue and the Orioles' vibrant orange. And you know Buck Showalter will make sure their caps are on straight.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

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    38%
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    62%

Discuss (Total votes: 55,341)

Paul Lukas bracket: National League


(1) Cardinals vs. (8) Braves

Which jersey prop is stronger: the tomahawk or the bat?

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

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    61%
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    39%

Discuss (Total votes: 56,330)


(2) Cubs vs. (10) Nationals

An established veteran against an up-and-comer. The smart money's on the veteran.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

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    70%
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    30%

Discuss (Total votes: 54,791)


(3) Phillies vs. (6) Dodgers

Two classic looks here. A pity that one of them will have to lose.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

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    35%
  •  
    65%

Discuss (Total votes: 54,882)


(4) Pirates vs. (5) Giants

Interesting pairing here: black and orange versus black and gold.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

  •  
    51%
  •  
    49%

Discuss (Total votes: 56,031)

Battle of the Uniforms seedings

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