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Studs and duds

"At least one thing hasn't changed for Randy Johnson - he still kills the Yankees in the playoffs."
    New York Daily News

Fans of 29 teams danced in the streets on Friday night, as the Big Unit turned into the Small Package, getting bombed in the Bronx and being Yanked - to the boos of the crowd - without retiring a batter in the fourth inning, his shortest post-season appearance ever. The Pope is prepared to waive the usual requirements (such as being dead) and canonise Garrett Anderson, after his four hit, five RBI performance. The Angels poured on nineteen hits, were able to blow a 5-0 lead and still win

Sorry you left, Randy? "I don't mean this in a disrespectful way, but in games that I've pitched in Arizona, the crowd was really more animated on the days that I pitched than probably any other day that I would witness," Johnson had said on Thursday. "And I really fed on that." They seemed plenty animated last night, though booing Randy Johnson largely confirms my belief that (not all, but a significant number of) Yankee fans are classless bums.

With yesterday's game being rained out, the Yankees stave off elimination for at least one more day, but their $200m train is in serious danger of being derailed even sooner than it was last year. And will anyone outside the Big Apple shed a tear? I doubt it. Whenever game four finally arrives, we'll be cheering on the Angels - and not just because their owner Artur Moreno is a Phoenix guy.

Yes, you're right - I just wanted to get my gloating in nice and early, before anything horrible happened, such as the Yankees winning, which is still within the bounds of possibility. However, the Red Sox discovered that there's one 3-0 deficit even they can't overcome, and that's in a five-game series. Hey, they've won one World Series, time to let someone else have a shot!

If the Cards, Braves, Astros or White Sox win everything this year, that would mean the past six World Series winners will be six different teams. That's rare in any sport - in the four major pro arenas, it's only happened a handful of times before:

  • NHL: 1931-36, 1992-97
  • NBA: 1975-80
  • NFL: never
  • MLB: 1982-90 or 1978-87
    Suggests that competitive balance might not be such an issue at the moment in baseball!

As expected, the Padres got whipped by the Cardinals, losing in three straight by a combined margin of 21-11 - the Padres never led a game at any time in the series, only the third time that's happened in forty-four division series (the others being Braves/Astros in 1997, and Yankees/Rangers in 1998). Heck, former D'back Reggie Sanders drove in almost as many as the Padres scored, all by himself. An embarrassment to the NL West? Possibly. Certainly, the Diamondbacks couldn't have done any worse than get swept...

And, at time of writing, the Braves have done another one of their patent post-season choke jobs. They had a 6-1 lead with five outs to go in Houston, but Farnsworth blew it all, and the game is now going into extra innings. Even as neutrals, we found it pretty exciting: Chris doesn't usually "watch" baseball that doesn't involve Arizona, but even she insisted on seeing the ninth inning of that one. Great call by the umpire on Ausmus's homerun, which was about three inches above the yellow line. They're still going on that one, though: the Astros just missed a walk-off home-run, by about the same three inches.

And finally, while the fantasy baseball season may be over, here's a link to keep in mind: The Roto Authority. If only I'd had this through 2005, I might not have been forced to mount a comeback from 11th place... :-) But, actually, it's fun reading even if you're not a fantasy player, and I'm happy to add it to our sidebar for permanent use. Though part of me wants to keep it as my secret weapon for the next fantasy season!