Saturday, October 29, 2005

Cash In

Brian Cashman stays with the Yankees, which is good news...I think.

It's always been hard to tell just how good a GM Cashman is, because the Yankee hierarchy during his tenure presents so many obstacles: is it Cashman, or is it the fact that he has a nearly-unlimited budget; is it Cashman, or is it Steinbrenner making or vetoing the big moves; is it Cashman, or does the Tampa brain trust really make the big decisions? It's pretty hard to judge management as it is, but control of the Yankee organization is so decentralized that isolating Brian Cashman's contribution is nearly impossible.

Part of the Cashman deal, it appears, is that he will be the one in charge. This, we will believe when we see it. But for whatever it's worth, Cashman doesn't move on to the GM vacancies in Tampa Bay or Los Angeles, or even to the potential vacancy in Boston. As that he's a familiar figure, and one that we like, it's good to see him cash in, even though I don't know if this makes the Yanks more or less likely to win the World Series.

It could be that 2006 is the year we finally find out how good Cashman is.


Meanwhile, the coaching staff continues in flux. Larry Bowa seems to be in at third, and deposed Oriole manager (and former pinstriped first base coach) Lee Mazzilli is expected to return to replace Joe Girardi as bench coach. Where this leaves Luis Sojo, who wasn't a terribly good third base coach, but is widely hailed as a future manager, we do not know. It really stings that Sojo, who has all the "intangibles" buzz of Joe Girardi, plus managing experience the former catcher lacks, isn't considered for the bench coach position, and isn't getting interviews as a managerial candidate. Also in flux is Roy White, the incumbent first base coach, who might find himself bumped by Sojo, or reassigned.

Ron Guidry is rumored to be the favorite to take over the pitching coach position. Neil Allen, who was considered one of the top contenders, won't get the job, and apparently won't even be on the major league coaching staff--losing his bullpen coach position. Potential Red Sox spy Joe Kerrigan could be up for the pitching or bullpen coach spots. He's apparently one of Cashman's favorites.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The 2005 World Champion White Sox

The Official Post-Yankee Playoff Team of the Weblog That Derek Built (the TOPYTWTDB, as we call them) was swept last night, unable to generate a single run in the interest of avoiding humiliation in their home ballpark. It was sad, but fitting.

The Astros certainly had their chances. Last night, I was at the pool hall, and in keeping with the low ratings, most of the TVs in the joint were tuned to something else--regular season hockey, pre-season basketball, the lumberjack events, the World's Strongest Man competition, the International Foosball Federation's Monte Carlo Grand Prix--you know, something with local ramifications.

After I won my match, I saw one at bat that told me what the result of this game would be. Bottom of the sixth inning, score tied at zero, Freddy Garcia had just walked Mike Lamb to face Jason Lane, with two outs and the bases loaded. Garcia quickly ran the count to 0-2, and then Lane started to battle. Foul ball, foul ball, foul ball. AJ Pierzynski did a great job of blocking a splitter in the dirt to keep the runner at third. Another foul ball.

And then, suddenly, Lane lost the contest of wills. The pitch that struck him out was high and inside, and no threat to catch any part of the plate. Threat over, and, I felt at the time, game over.

It's strange to see a sweep where the games are fairly close, the underdog is well-regarded, yet it just feels like they are also completely overmatched. Maybe it's the sour way the Series started, with Roger Clemens unable to answer the bell after the second inning. The key to the Astros chances was having that fearsome Big Three, and once that became a Big Two, they just didn't have enough offense to hang in there.

As for the White Sox, over at Baseball Prospectus I took a look at how so many good folks underestimated them so much at the beginning of the season. For those of you who remember my pre-season picks, I had them FOURTH in their division. PECOTA, Nate Silver's player projection system, showed the ChiSox as a .500 team, somewhere between 80-82 and 82-80.

My analysis shows that PECOTA actually did a pretty good job of predicting Chicago's offense, but was dashed upon the rocks by unexpected and interrelated improvements in their defense and pitching. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


The curse of the Black Sox looks like it will soon be broken, chaos reigns around the world...and I'm engaged in self-promotion. Dropped a Notebook piece on the Rockies and their relievers over at Baseball Prospectus.

Check it out. Seriously, go ahead. It's not like the Astros are going anywhere...

(I get a little bit bitter when teams are bitten by the Curse of the Weblog That Derek Built. More on this tomorrow.)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Movie Review: Capote

I didn't know a lot about Truman Capote's work going into the eponymous biopic directed by Bennett Miller. Like many of New York's legendary literary and artistic figures, to some extent he's famous as much for being part of a scene as he is for any particular piece of writing. I hear Capote's name and I think about the Black & White Ball, and hanging out with Marilyn Monroe. Pressed, I can only name two of Capote's works "Breakfast at Tiffany's"--far more famous these days as the Audrey Hepburn movie than as Capote's novel--and "In Cold Blood."

This movie is about Capote's experience writing the latter book, which started off as a piece for the New Yorker magazine before taking on a life of its own. As the story goes, Capote notices the a small newspaper article about a family murdered in Kansas, and quickly makes for the midwest to report on the crime. After the perpetrators are captured, Capote becomes fascinated by one of the murderers, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins, Jr.) who he imagines as a funhouse mirror version of himself.

When the murderers are sentenced to death, Capote gets them lawyers--he needs them alive so they can tell him their story. But Capote finds himself in a quandary, because, at the same time, their story isn't over until they are executed. Literature ensues.

The movie stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman in what is pretty obviously a "Give Me My Damn Oscar" project. I'm not the person to ask is Hoffman's mimicry is dead on, but the actor certainly disappears into the character in this role. Hoffman is ably supported by Clifton, as well as Catherine Keener, in the role of Nelle Harper Lee. There are some neat twists early in the movie, including an introductory cocktail party that looks like it was lifted, frame-by-frame, from Holly Golightly's apartment in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

However, while it was interesting learning about Truman Capote's past and the way he pursued the "In Cold Blood" story, I wonder what the point of the movie was--other than providing a vehicle for Hoffman to chew the scenery. Capote's Scheherazade-in-Reverse relationship with Smith is the center of the story, but it doesn't seem to go anywhere in the final reel. Worst of all, the literary achievement that "In Cold Blood" is presented as doesn't have much weight, because we live in an era when that kind of reporting is commonplace--the film doesn't really show us what was groundbreaking about the book when it was written. The first rule of biopics should be that the audience leaves with an appreciation of what made the subject special. I'm not sure I got that from this film.

Not a bad film, but one I would wait for on video.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Pre-World Series Gumbo

Was at the pool hall last night night while game 6 of the NLCS was going on.

Not that I was watching it, mind you. I was in the back of the pool hall again (at the famed Abe Rosen table), and unlike Game 7 of last year's ALCS, they didn't tune every TV set in the place to the game. Indeed, most of the sets that I could see were tuned to Rangers/Islanders.

It's a testament to how far the NHL has fallen that Rangers/Islanders couldn't get my interest, at all. Someone else had to point out to me that it ended with the Isles winning their first-ever shootout.

I started off my match with my one-handicap-rank-lower opponent, Barbra, going on a nice run in the first game of 8 ball, which gave me a pleasant scare, and got me shooting well. After tying up the table a little bit, I pulled out the first game, then proceeded to sweep her--hard--in the next two games of 8 Ball. After the first game it wasn't even close.

But the seeds were already sown for my destruction. I started to feel bad for her during the 8-ball match, since it looked like she was getting frustrated. I also started to think about other stuff, like my handicap going up--I was 14-5 going into the night's match, so it figured that a third straight winning week would get the league director's attention.

Worst of all, I'd been winning without making any long shots. Going into 9-ball, this is a recipe for disaster.

And so, I messed up in the first game, going on a nice run that ended just before Barbra's handicap ball. Then, a blind shot she took into a cluster kicked the nine ball in in the second game. Then, in the third game, I rattled my opponent's handicap ball (the Eight) in the corner, leaving it right in front of the pocket. I was about to do the sportsmanlike "this shot is too easy for you" thing and concede the game, but she insisted on shooting. She made the shot, but the cue ball hit three rails and dropped into a pocket on the other side of the table.

With ball in hand, on the nine ball, I missed a nonchallant side pocket shot, from maybe three or four inches away from the pocket. Tied match.

One more rattled eight ball later, it was over. I'm still disgusted.

The most prized thing in sports is the killer instinct, a reaction that when your opponent is reeling, you not only refuse to let up on them, but you turn up the pressure even higher. It just kills me when that instinct fails to kick in, and you start finding ways to beat yourself.

On a perhaps unrelated note, another thing that occurred to me was that playing Barbra was perhaps the first real interaction I've had with a woman I didn't know since getting married. It's strange, since I've been off the market for more than two years now, but I felt just a little bit awkward. Different.

OK, now that I'm done boring you with my pool game (and personal life), after my match was done, I caught the action in the NLCS on one of the HD's by the bar. It was the bottom of the sixth, and the Astros were already leading 4-1. Oswalt was just filthy--his 95+ heater slicing into the corners of the strike zone. Reminds me a bit of vintage Ron Guidry, in the way it seems incongruous for someone so slight of build to whip it so damn hard. By the time Morgan Ensberg singled in Craig Biggio with the Astros' fifth run, the Redbirds looked beat. And in time, it was official.

So the Astros meet the White Sox in the World Serious. As Alex Belth puts it, Jose Contreras and Orlando Hernandez against Andi Pettitte and Roger Clemens. One team that hasn't won in 88 years, against one that hasn't won, ever (that would be since 1962). History made either way.

Here's to one last good taste of baseball before we go off to that cold winter.


Meanwhile, there's been a bit of noteworthy news in Yankeeland that probably merits a few blurbs:

News Item--Mel Stottlemyre Calls It Quits as Yankee Pitching Coach (Blum/Yahoo Sports) Long time coming, and probably for the best. I doubt Mel was ever as good a pitching coach as was believed when he was coaching the 1986 Mets, or as bad as he was thought to be his last few years in Pinstripes. Like Don Zimmer's departure a few years back, I'm sad he's leaving, but I'm happy he gets away from the backbiting and office politics of the World of Yankee.

News Item--Joe Torre Will Remain Yankee Manager (AP/ This one surprised a little, because of George Steinbrenner's long history of not tolerating failure, and of interpreting the word "failure" in a very liberal fashion. Still, it's welcome news. There's no manager out there that I can see doing a better job than Torre, and it's not like he has lost the respect of his players. So firing the manager now would be change for change's sake.

News Items--Leo Mazzone Speaks to Yanks (Borden/NY Daily News) But Joins the Orioles (Rubin/NY Daily News) Getting Leo in pinstripes was a pipe dream, but I'm surprised that Mazzone left Atlanta despite turning down the Yanks' offers. Factor in that search was probably the Orioles retaining Leo's longtime pal as their manager. I guess we'll get to see how much of a miracle worker Leo has been, all these years--the Braves and Orioles are teams to watch next season.

With Mazzone and Stottlemyre out, the candidates for the pitching coach range from Neil Allen (organizational favorite) to Joe Kerrigan (possible Red Sox spy favorite) to Ron Guidry (emotional favorite) to the unknown. Right now, despite things to like about each candidate, I favor the unknown.

News Item--Joe Girardi To Manage the Marlins (Frisaro/ We've been hearing for a decade about how Girardi will make a great manager some day. I don't know what this talk is based on, but the Marlins sure hope the buzz turns into reality. This leaves one more vacancy in the Yankees coaching corps, and no current favorites to fill the bench coach position.

News Item--Felix Heredia Suspended for Steroids (Noble/ I guess someone got sick of Larry Mahnken calling him a fairy. Still, the one distinguishing thing about the steroid cheats is what a pitiful list of characters this is--guys just hanging on to their careers, for the most part. The other thing--which hurts me to note as a Dominican American--is that so many of these guys are Hispanic. Like the Agegate scandals, it sends the message that Latinos are just more willing to cheat than other people. I'd prefer to think that this means that supplement companies throughout Latin America got some 'splaining to do (to paraphrase Desi Arnaz).

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

When You Assume...

The cost of a nice 2 week vacation, and returning on the day that your younger brother gets admitted to the Bar, is that you wind up working late when you finally get back to work. How late? I was following the Astros/Cardinals game at work, via computer.

I was scanning along, eventually coming to terms with the fact that I wouldn't get home in time to catch any part of Andy Pettitte's starting performance, when Lance Berkman hit his big three run shot in the seventh inning, putting the Astros up, 4-2. Houston has a pretty lights-out bullpen, so I left the office thinking that the Astros/White Sox World Series matchup was a done deal.

Man, was I wrong.

The question is, can the Astros come back from losing after being a one strike away from the World Series, at home? Over at ESPN, Bill Simmons thinks not. Simmons thinks that this is the kind of blow from which the Official 2005 Playoff Team of the Weblog That Derek Built cannot possibly recover, because the psychological damage from losing after being one strike from the World Series is too much to overcome. His words:
Sadly, the rest of the Astros-Cards series seems predictably depressing (unless you're a St. Louis fan). Not only are the Cardinals back at home, not only have they been handed a second life, but out of every sport, baseball hinges on emotion and momentum more than anything else. In the NBA, teams can lose the most devastating game possible and bounce back two days later as a completely different team (like the Nets after Game 3 of the 2002 Boston series). That doesn't work in baseball. Once you have the momentum, the other team has to take it back. And they can't do that when they're reeling on the road and wondering what the hell just happened. That's why I believe the Astros are finished, just like that '86 Angels team was.

Now, he's got a great point about the disadvantage the Astros face going back to St. Louis. The 'Stros were just 35-46 outside of the Juice Box this year, while the Cards maintained twin 50-31 records at home and on the road this year. So the Cardinals are very much alive in this series, and have a shot to beat out Houston for the pennant. But at the same time, I don't give much credence to all this talk of momentum, much less Simmons' unsupported theorem that momentum matters more in baseball than any other sport.

Sunday night, the Astros had all the "momentum." The Cards had not just lost and put themselves on the brink of elimination, they had fallen apart, with LaRussa and Edmonds getting ejected from the game, the team making mistakes in the field.

Houston's momentum lasted just shy of 24 hours, until the Cardinals finally managed to put a couple of people on base for the most dangerous hitter in the National League. That's all that really happened. Giving up a big fly to Albert Pujols is not the same creature as allowing a homer to Scott Podsednik (or Bucky Dent). But when we talk about "momentum," that is all we're talking about--a bad pitch to a really good hitter.

In other words, to quote Earl Weaver, "Momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher." And here, the Astros have the decided advantage, bringing to the mound a 20 game winner (Roy Oswalt) and the guy who won the ERA title (Roger F'ing Clemens). Against this, the Cards have their sometimes-achy #2 starter, Mark Mulder, and a couple of decent-to-good guys, Jeff Suppan and Matt Morris.

So the chances of the Cards' "momentum" lasting through Thursday seem quite distant.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Rooting Interests

Yeah, the Intercontinental Blogging is over. So is the Yanks' season. I'm going to have to review the ALDS by (if they still have condensed games for the off-season) later on, but I can't say I'm too surprised that in the end, good pitching stopped good hitting. In one of my few in-Stadium games this year, I got to see the pitching matchup we wound up with, Mike Mussina against Earvin Santana. I said back then the kid had some good stuff, and it looks like that held up.

Looking out at the big hitters of Yankee Blogging--the Bronx Banters, Futility Infielders, and Pinstriped Blogs of the world--it looks like they've done a great job analyzing the Yankee postseason. Most of them have come out against the apparent scapegoating of Alex Rodriguez, and have started looking to the future.

Right now, I'm not even ready to think about the future. I'm jet-lagged and confronted with a playoff doubleheader on FOX, Astros/Cardinals followed by Angels/White Sox. This season, virtually every game I've seen has featured the Yankees, or has had some angle to my work at Baseball Prospectus--researching this team or that, watching a particular player.

Watching baseball's postseason just as a fan, the question becomes who am I rooting for? Neutrality's difficult to manage, and I've always been the kind of guy to pick sides in baseball's postseason, particularly when the Yanks are out of the running. Here's how the Championship Series' stack up this time around:

White Sox--Pros: they're already up 3-1 in the ALCS, so cheering for the other team could be a short-lived affair; they have history going for them, since the Sox (White) haven't won a big one since 1917. Cons: Ozzie Guillen is annoying. He's the AL's manager of the year, but I've always found the guy annoying. Can't root for Ozzie Guillen.

Angels--No pros and cons about this one, I can't cheer for the guys that knocked the Yanks out of the playoffs, either. Between this and 2002, I just don't have much room in my heart for the Halos, who've made up for all those years of Yankee fans shouting them out of the house in Anaheim--er, Los Angeles, whatever--during the regular season for their entire existence. Only thing worth liking about the Angels is Vlad Guerrero.

Cardinals--Pros: Classy team, missed last year's title, so they have something to prove. Albert Pujols is one of the unique talents in the game, and I've been a fan of Larry Walker for a long time. Cons: Other than the big three hitters (they're missing Scott Rolen this time out) and Chris Carpenter, the rest of the team is bland. Tony LaRussa is a different kind of annoying from Ozzie Guillen--I liked TLR once upon a time, but it seems like the guy believes all that stuff that George Will wrote about him. As I write this, he's getting himself thrown out of a playoff game.

Astros--Pros: World Series drought? Check, the Astros haven't won a championship, ever, and have only won one playoff series in their history. Something to prove? Check, this NLCS is a rematch from last season's NLCS, which they lost to the Cards. Former Yankees? Check. Other longtime favorites? I've been a Craig Biggio guy since back in the day when I used to play Strat-o-Matic, and Biggio was a catcher, who could run, and play second base. Pure gold. The Houston Astros are the only MLB team other than the Yanks whose lid I've worn (another Strat-o-Matic thing, back in High School). Yeah, these guys are the pick. Cons: it would be bittersweet to see the Rocket and Andy Pettitte win a World Series in another team's uniform.

So Let's Go Astros!


I mentioned jet lag. I'm coming off a transAtlantic flight right now, and I was really thankful for KLM's in-flight on-demand movies on both of my 6+ hour flights. On the way to Europe I caught Sin City, which was just an amazing job of converting a comic book to the screen, and I'd gotten to see the beginning of Troy (Troy was selected using criteria for in-flight movies: is this something I would bother to see if I wasn't on an airplane? If it is, I might decide to sleep or do something else, knowing that I will see the movie eventually. If not, I'm catching it on the plane rather than paying to see it later). The return flight allowed me to finish business with Troy, and make it a Brad Pitt doubleheader with Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

Much to my surprise, Smith was a fun little movie. Not the next Godfather or anything, but a competent film, despite some plot problems. The basic story is pretty simple: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play spies, who get married after a not-so-chance meeting in South America. Now, as a married couple, neither knows what the other really does for a living, and both are feeling the doldrums of a typical suburban marriage. Obviously, this situation does not persist, or you wouldn't have much of a movie.

The problem that Mr. & Mrs. Smith faces is that it falls between the cracks of the action/adventure and romantic comedy genres. Overall, the film is closer to the latter, but was marketed as being the former. It's a shame, because the leads can actually carry the romance part of a romantic comedy, and Pitt has pretty good comic timing. Because the film sells the action portion so hard, this film has one of the harsher soundtracks I've heard in a while, all loud music and deafening explosions.

I know, somewhere out there there are movie execs who figure that anyone my age or younger has permanent ear damage from listening to too much loud music on our headphones, and that we need even more ear-splitting audio at the cineplex to get out attention. I ask those movie execs to get stuffed, and lower the volume.

While I was writing this, the Official 2005 Playoff Team of the Weblog that Derek Built beat the Cards, to take a 3-1 lead in their series. Look like a big front-runner now, don't I?

Monday, October 10, 2005

An American Yankee Fan in Italy

You might wonder why things have been so quiet around here lately. That's because I'm currently in Europe, on vacation.

One of the wonders of being in Europe is that it has been virtually impossible to follow baseball. The ALDS has come in odd flashes: the first couple of nights, our hotel had CNN world, which meant watching the same highlights over and over again, almost a day late. For the weekend, however, I went out to the countryside...which meant no baseball info at all, with the series tied 1-1.

La Chiquita understood how hard this was for me. With the time difference here, there isn't the option of just heading off to a bar with a satellite dish--game time is 2:00 AM. Before the next city we would hit, I knew full well the series--and the Yanks' season--could be over.

Luckily, it seems that we have survived the weekend, to return to Los Anaheimos de Angeles for a conclusive game 5. All I can say is Let's Go Yanks!

That, and I'm sure I'll hear all about it tomorrow.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Tempests In A Teapot

The talk in this off-day is all about managers. Managers quitting, getting fired, getting invited to leave (and no, those three are not all the same thing). Managers accusing each other of lacking integrity, however obliquely. Managers preparing for the playoffs.

First, the one that has a local angle. It seems the Yankees weren't too happy at the way that Buck Showalter played Sunday's game against the Angels. The Angels' come-from-behind victory--combined with the Yanks' loss at Boston--gave the Halos home field advantage over the Yankees in the ALDS.

Now, Showalter is the type who likes to talk about "tradition" and go to the press with his opinions of whether other managers are meeting his lofty standards for the profession, so maybe pulling his star players early in the final game--the Rangers were up 4-1 when Showalter gave Mark Teixeira, Hank Blaloch, and Michael Young the day off in the 3rd inning--is a bit of hypocrisy. The fact of the matter still is, the Yanks had their destiny in their own hands, and spit the bit. It isn't Buck Showalter's job to get the Yanks home field advantage in the playoffs, it's Joe Torre's. No whining allowed. That means you, A-Rod.

In other news managers started biting the dust as soon as the season was over. In Los Angeles, Paul DePodesta refused to grant manager Jim Tracy a contract extension, meaning that Tracy and the Dodgers will "mutually part ways" without anyone firing or quitting. In Detroit, Alan Trammel is gone--definitely a firing. The Motowners supposedly have the hots for Jim Leyland.

In Florida, Jack McKeon quit the Marlins, although some think it was a "quit or be fired" type deal. Last week I wrote a Notebook piece on the Marlins, in which I outlined the reasons I felt jettisoning McKeon wouldn't be too bad for the Fish. Mainly, it looks like he's a Billy Martin-type who quickly burns out the players under him with his negativity.

Back to the manager the Yankees have, rather than the three that just hit the market, Joe Torre has selected Mike Mussina as his Game 1 starter, and Chien Ming Wang to start game 2. When the action moves back to Yankee Stadium, Randy Johnson will answer the call, at home.

What about Shawn Chacon, the guy who allowed only one earned run in his last three starts? He pitches Game 4, if the Yanks get that far. Why?

Seniority. Mussina may not have been effective terribly often in the last two months, but he's a proven Yankee(tm). Johnson and even Wang all have more Yankees tenure than Chacon.

Please tell me this isn't really how we're running things. Please let this be a smokescreen for some real reason that Mussina is starting game one of a playoff he's been faking injury and ineffectiveness for months just to set up Mike Scioscia.

I have much fear.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Here We Go Again...

OK, so it turned out one out of three was good enough.

The Yanks clinched Saturday, which took most of them (but not the Captain, Derek Jeter) by surprise. Turned out that since the Indians didn't keep up the pressure they'd put on in the second half, the Yanks won the AL East by virtue of having a tiebreaker in the season series.

Confusing, ain't it?

With a fractional chance to deliver the knockout punch today, the Yanks whiffed, losing 10-1 to the Sox behind Curt Schilling. Turned out that the Red Sox victory wasn't necessary, since the Indians finished their late collapse with a 3-1 loss to the White Sox. So the Sox are once again the second place team in the division, despite finishing with the exact same record as the Bronx Bombers. Like last year, Red Sox are also the AL's Wild Card team. Which means that the Yanks and Sox are a couple of ALDS victories away from reprising--again!--the ALCS drama of 2003 and 2004.

Standing in the Yankees' way will be the Los Anaheim Angels of Angeles (the title would get even more exciting if Peter Angelos bought the team). I'm sure Cliff Corcoran will be dishing the statistical skinny on the Halos at Bronx Banter, and it looks like the inimitable Chris Karhl will be previewing the series at Baseball Prospectus. However, the quick and dirty summary has these two teams as Yankees and Anti-Yankees. The Bombers have suspect pitching (8th in the AL in ERA), and a thin bullpen, carried by a monstrous offense (2nd in runs). The Angels have excellent pitching (2nd in ERA) with a deep pen married to a mediocre offense (7th in runs). The Yanks scored 131 more runs than the Angels this season, and allowed nearly a full run of ERA more.

So the question is, does good pitching beat good hitting? Can't help but recall that this resembled last year's ALDS matchup with the Twins.

The Yanks beat the Twins last year, but then ran into the Red Sox killing machine. This time out, the Sox have to contend with...the Sox, of the White variety. The matchup once again mirrors the Yankees, since the Chicagoans depend on run prevention.

A few months ago this sort of thing would have carried Clash of the Titans type implications. But the "Small Ball" White Sox lost a lot of their mystique in allowing the Indians to draw so close at the end of the season.

Exciting times. More tomorrow.