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Pirates & Reds -- who goes farther?

Forget about their first winning record in 20 years; that is so a couple of weeks ago. On Monday, the Pittsburgh Pirates clinched a playoff berth, meaning they'll get at least one taste of postseason action for the first time since 1992. The Cincinnati Reds didn't have to wait as long -- or at all, really, as they'll be playing extra baseball for the second straight year. How far will these NL Central teams go?

  • Which team will win the NL wild-card game?

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      61%
    •  
      39%

    Discuss (Total votes: 10,251)

  • How will the Pirates fare in the postseason?

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      30%
    •  
      32%
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      20%
    •  
      6%
    •  
      12%

    Discuss (Total votes: 49,874)

  • How will the Reds fare in the postseason?

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      47%
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      30%
    •  
      12%
    •  
      3%
    •  
      8%

    Discuss (Total votes: 31,528)

  • Which team will win the National League pennant?

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      24%
    •  
      21%
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      31%
    •  
      17%
    •  
      7%

    Discuss (Total votes: 92,334)

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Billy Hamilton steals four bases

Billy Hamilton is the kind of player who seems destined to set records -- he's the fastest player baseball has seen in a long time and has great intelligence on the basepaths. On Wednesday night, Hamilton became the first player to steal four bases in his first major league start, nabbing two of them on pitchouts. Hamilton has only nine plate appearances this season, but his time as a pinch runner has allowed him to steal nine bases already, undoubtedly making Reds fans eager to see what he can do in the postseason.

  • How should the Reds use Billy Hamilton in the postseason?

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      38%
    •  
      62%

    Discuss (Total votes: 6,230)

  • Billy Hamilton stole four bases in his first major league start on Wednesday. Will he ever steal 100 bases in a season?

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      56%
    •  
      44%

    Discuss (Total votes: 26,786)

  • Which is more exciting to watch?

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      66%
    •  
      34%

    Discuss (Total votes: 27,085)

  • Are the Reds a legitimate World Series threat?

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      37%
    •  
      63%

    Discuss (Total votes: 26,285)

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Baseball races reach the stretch run

With three weeks in the regular season, Major League Baseball's playoff picture is coming into focus, though some big questions remain. The Cardinals, Pirates and Reds are in a tight race for the National League Central, while Oakland or Texas are battling it out for the American League West title. But the most drama is in the race for the second AL wild card, where five teams are vying for one playoff berth. Do the Indians, Orioles, Yankees or Royals have enough left in the tank to challenge the Rays?

  • Which team wins the second AL wild card?

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      32%
    •  
      20%
    •  
      21%
    •  
      17%
    •  
      10%

    Discuss (Total votes: 29,524)

  • Which manager would you rather have in the race for the AL's second wild card?

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      31%
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      17%
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      29%
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      18%
    •  
      5%

    Discuss (Total votes: 10,349)

  • Which team will win the AL West?

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      76%
    •  
      24%

    Discuss (Total votes: 19,577)

  • Which team will win the NL Central?

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      51%
    •  
      41%
    •  
      8%

    Discuss (Total votes: 53,719)

  • Which team will represent the NL in the World Series?

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      24%
    •  
      20%
    •  
      35%
    •  
      14%
    •  
      7%

    Discuss (Total votes: 10,110)

  • Which team will represent the AL in the World Series?

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      16%
    •  
      7%
    •  
      41%
    •  
      36%

    Discuss (Total votes: 9,935)

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We haven't had a good news conference meltdown yet this season, which is why we're thankful today for Brandon Phillips and his below-league-average on-base percentage. Phillips took issue with a Cincinnati reporter's comment on his lack of plate discipline, laying into said reporter both in the clubhouse and during Dusty Baker's pregame news conference. Phillips has been a reliable power hitter for most of his career, but his bat has gone quiet this season, although Baker has batted him cleanup for much of the season. The reporter's comment was prompted by Baker addressing Phillips' struggles by moving him in the batting order -- to the No. 2 spot.

Here's a sampling of what readers had to say in our Facebook conversation on the story:

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

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MLB trade deadline passes quietly

The Boston Red Sox got Jake Peavy late Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Baltimore Orioles snagged Bud Norris, while the Arizona Diamondbacks shipped Ian Kennedy to the San Diego Padres. And that was about it for a quiet deadline that saw few impact players move, despite several teams seemingly needing improvement. Of course, there's no guarantee a midseason acquisition will make a difference, while top prospects can change franchises -- or at least provide years worth of value.

Which of these teams will most regret not making a(nother) move at the trade deadline?

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    19%
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    17%
  •  
    23%
  •  
    28%
  •  
    13%

Discuss (Total votes: 94,397)

  • How many impact players will be moved through post-deadline waiver trades?

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      24%
    •  
      44%
    •  
      32%

    Discuss (Total votes: 9,655)

  • Which best reflects how you feel about the MLB trade deadline?

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      53%
    •  
      47%

    Discuss (Total votes: 9,794)

  • Will the Orioles (59-48, 5 GB AL East, .5 G up for second wild-card spot) make the playoffs?

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      68%
    •  
      32%

    Discuss (Total votes: 22,353)

  • What do you make of Ian Kennedy's (3-8, 5.23 ERA) struggles this season?

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      38%
    •  
      62%

    Discuss (Total votes: 9,425)

Comment »