Phillies rise up out of the NL ashes–Advance to World Series


The Phillies have made the World Series. The city is rightfully pumped about this group going to the World Series after making haste of the Los Angeles Dodgers in a series that lasted only 5 games.

I must say, I never thought this group was a World Series team until this series; and I only knew then because Los Angeles just didn’t have enough pitching or hitting. But beyond that, I didn’t think Charlie Manuel would ever be able to get a team over the hump. I remember his days in Cleveland too well. I thought he failed to take more talented teams there to similar heights. Must have been the Cleveland curse. You look at Charlie Manuel. You feel sorry for him (the guy’s mother died). In the end, you’re ultimately happy for him.

In all reality, this team has a very dangerous 1-5 in the lineup. They were the best team in the best division of a think National League. They’ll put up a good Phight fight in the World Series no matter who they play. I can appreciate the passion the Philadelphia fans have for their team. I wish I could be at Citizens Bank Park when the first pitch is thrown there of the series. It will be quite the eclectic atmosphere for a baseball fan in any walk of life.


An early look at a Phillies World Series program. [Beerleaguer]
Phillies are at home awaiting AL winner. [The Phillies Files]

10 Things I'd Like to See–Reds 2009 Offseason

I nabbed this idea from Red Reporter, but I’ll do my best to amend on some things that were said over there. Making it all-original content of course

1. Begin talking long-term contract with Jay Bruce
So it’s no secret that we’re big Jay Bruce fans here at Diamond Hoggers. However, the facts are facts. The guy is a commodity and as much of an asset as the Reds have had in a long time. Show the city and rest of the organization that this is the guy you’re going to build around by locking him up to a long-term deal like the Devil Rays did with Evan Longoria early on this season and the Indians did with Grady Sizemore before 2007. Or at least attempt to get the ball moving in that direction and show the interest.

It would allow Bruce the chance to settle in both literally and figuratively. Something in the neighborhood of 6 years and $40-50 million might do the trick. Or at least let you know if you’re in the ballpark. Bruce is the kind of guy who deserves to have his arbitration years bought out. He’s the face of the franchise, so sign him and show him off. Which brings up the next point….

2. Market the franchise more
I go to downtown Cincinnati and I see a building with a picture of Bronson Arroyo on the side of it. It’s obvious that the Reds want to market Bronson Arroyo, but lets go in a different direction.

You’ve got Johnny Cueto, Edison Volquez, Joey Votto, and Bruce. Plaster the faces of these players all over town. Get the baseball town that is Cincinnati behind these guys again. The Bengals are not going to be good anytime soon so let them know they’ve got a young group of players in the way of the Reds that they can fall in love with, and trust that they’ll be there for the long haul. This is what is missing in too many big league cities nowadays and its something that was definitely there in 1990.

I’ve been to Redsfest one time and it was cool, but the whole offseason should be like Redsfest. Get these guys around the city and get them to know their fans. The fans are the lifeblood of the organization. Get them excited again at all costs.

3. Name Wilkin Castillo the back-up catcher to Ryan Hanigan
The Reds have carried 3 catchers all season long for way too long now. Its time to change things. Let Hanigan and Castillo be the catchers on this team. Let Castillo get the at-bats when Hanigan needs a day off and let him be a utility guy the other days. Use him for the value he has (Castillo). But for Pete’s sakes no more carrying 3 catchers.

4. Have a good, long talk with Dusty Baker
I didn’t think that Baker did a great job of managing last year. The group was under-achieving and low energy. Dunn and Griffey are gone now. The scapegoat needs to be Baker, at least partially. You tell him if you’re the owner or the GM exactly what needs to happen. You tell him that he must get his team ready to compete at all costs and that his job is on the line.

Talk to him and ask him how he’s going to bring out the best in these young players. He hasn’t had the best track record with non-veteran ballplayers. Honestly, if Baker doesn’t overwhelm you with answers you might want to start looking for a new manager that fits the personnel better. There is nothing written in stone that says that Baker is the man who will lead this group to the promised land. Sure he could be–but make certain that he is.

5. Come up with some new promotions
I think that the Reds promotions are a tired act. Bobblehead day here, calendar day there, Edwin Encarnacion poster day here. Give us something new. They’re paying young interns good money to be in the Reds marketing department. Let us be the franchise that comes out with the cool promotion. The one that is mentioned on Sportscenter. In actuality, this isn’t that important and I think that the product on the field really trumps this area; but it all goes hand-in-hand with allowing your fans to love the team again. Not all fans are genetically coded like me. Some need more than just a game to make them come out to the park. If the Reds aren’t winning next year in June, and there is a decent chance they might not be; these are the things that will bring them out. Get cracking Reds marketing department.

6. Make a strong run at Matt Holliday (or a ‘splash’ RH bat)
Holliday is like the match-made in Heaven for these Reds. He’d be a great guy to hit in the middle of Bruce and Votto. He could play in left field. If the Reds really want to make a run at the World Series, go after Matt Holliday. They might be outbid by the Yankees, but can the Yankees do better than Homer Bailey/Todd Frazier + another fill in prospect? I’d even think about throwing in Encarnacion.

If you’re not going to get Holliday, you MUST go after someone who can rake from the right side of the plate. Brandon Phillips isn’t going to be enough. Encarnacion may never arrive as a lineup changer. Make a splash and go get the best of what is available on this side of the plate.

7. Freel and Hairston should be back
These are the type of guys that solidify your bench. They aren’t starter types. They are in reality, the 24th or 25th guys on a championship contending ballclub. That is what they should be here. However, those are the guys that win you pennants. They have shown us they can’t succeed as everyday ballplayers for one reason or another, but they can be some of the best role players in the entire league I think. Talk to them about their role, let them know they’re very wanted and see what they think. If you can, bring them both back and let them accumlate 100 games played next year one way or another. They should each comply.

8. Settle the shortstop situation
Alex Gonzalez returns from injury. He hasn’t played baseball in a year, so who knows what we’ll get. The Reds have Jeff Keppinger who really hasn’t been the same player since he got hurt either. I think that Keppinger and Gonzalez should be in a big time battle next spring training for the job. The winner plays (regardless of money/mood).

9. Give Todd Frazier every chance to make the big league roster
Goes back to young players and Dusty Baker. Bruce should have been here from day 1 in 2008 but he let Corey Patterson take away valuable playing time. Now what good did that do us? Frazier is going to be young, raw, and strike out too much. He might hit .230 for the first few months. Or he might play his way into some statistics in that ballpark. I bet he could hit 25 home runs as a rookie. Frazier can play some outfield, third base, even shortstop if needed. You’re telling me that it wouldn’t be a thrill for this kid? This should be stressed even more if we can land a huge right handed bat. He could hit 6th or 7th in the order and cause some problems seeing a lot of fastballs in that spot.

10. Figure out what you’re going to do with Homer Bailey once and for all
It’s sink or swim time for Homer. Let him have a spot in the rotation for a full year, or trade him, or put him in the bullpen and change his role for now. You’re not helping him by jerking him around from minors to majors and back to AAA. He’s not getting any better. It’s not working. Maximize his chances to succeed or get something while he still has a little value as a prospect. I think Bailey can be good, but the Reds just haven’t found a way to bring it out of him (they got the worst of Kyle Lohse as well).

Do something with Homer and make it clear to him what you’re going to do.

The Tampa Bay Rays Kept Coming Back and Back and Back

Watching this you couldn’t ask for much more. We caught parts of the ballgame, missing the beginning and the ending. This was the game of the series that all great ALCS seem to have. One of those homecoming night, 5 hour 27 minute marathons that ends with the home team winning and you happy that you told your would-be homecoming date that you were sick to your stomach (which is what we did in 9th grade so we could watch Omar Vizquel touch home in that 2-1 marathon ALCS over Baltimore back in 1997).
This one will always be remembered as the young guns of the Rays outslugging the mighty Red Sox for their first ALCS win in league history. If you’re a Rays fan right now, does it honestly get any better than this? You wake up this sunday morning and you are the story in all of sports. Not just the story, but everyone’s feel good story. No different than they’ve been all year, but it seems that people are picking up that story and reading it from coast to coast right now.
The Rays get home runs from their headline players Evan Longoria and BJ Upton, as well as old man Cliff Floyd. You think when Floyd signed with Tampa he ever thought he’d hit another postseason home run? The Red Sox got 2 from Dustin Pedroia, one from Jason Bay and Kevin Youkilis each.
After all the home runs and extra base hits in this slugfest, it was Upton’s sacrifice fly in the 11th inning off Mike Timlin that brought home the victory for the Rays. A capacity crowd of 34,904 was on hand to rock that unlikely site down in Tampa as the Rays had done it. They’d really stood toe to toe all saturday night with the Boston Red Sox, and came out with a win. Suddenly it didn’t seem so far fetched anymore did it? The Rays actually are the better team of these two. The Rays should win the series, and it wouldn’t be slamming the Red Sox in any way to think that might happen. This is an outstanding and once in a lifetime team in Tampa Bay right now.
Dan Shaughnessy [Boston Globe]
Watching the Red Sox strand 13 runners and waste four homers, Boston fans were left asking one vital question: What’s up with Josh Beckett? He was Bob Gibson in October 2007. Now he is John Wasdin in October 2008.
Sean Mcadam [Boston Herald]
The Red Sox already knew they would have to defend their World Series crown without Mike Lowell. Come to find out, they’re going to have to do it without Josh Beckett, too. Or at least the Josh Beckett to which they’ve become accustomed. Because this Josh Beckett is not that Josh Beckett. Not even close.
David Chalk [Bugs & Cranks]

Your 2008 NLCS Preview

We’ve got a couple of hardcore fanbases that have seen their franchises reach this point, to do battle for National League supremacy. Dodger fans and Phillies fans, well they live and die for their teams; like it or not.

I think the National league had a bunch of ‘ok’ ballclubs this season, but no special teams. This Dodger team wouldn’t have even made the postseason if it weren’t for Manny Ramirez, let alone won their first round. I think they’ll take it. As we predicted, Ramirez did his usual postseason thing against the Cubs, and the Dodgers are now playing for a chance to win the whole damn thing. Amazing how things happen isn’t it?

Ramirez played on a team similar in some ways to this current Dodger team, and they also went to a World Series. The 1997 Cleveland Indians. Except this Dodgers team is even less appealing. They had 1 guy hit 20 homers (Andre Ethier). They didn’t have a guy with 20 saves. They had only one starter get more than 15 wins (Chad Billingsley had 16). Now Ramirez came in and hit at a .396 clip, but still other than Manny there just isn’t a lot about this team that really stands out. They won 84 games, and came in and swept a Cubs team that couldn’t hit to save their life. It was Dodger pitching they couldn’t hit! That tells you about the Cubs and their deer in the headlights mentality in the postseason.

The Dodgers are grossly over-matched. But so were those 1997 Indians who were just 2 outs away from winning it all (thanks again, Jose Mesa). The Dodgers are here, they’ve gotten this far, and they can do this. We want to stress that.

But they are overmatched. The Phillies won 92 games and filtered out of a much tougher division that Los Angeles wouldn’t have been able to breathe in. They’ve got star power, and more than just Manny Ramirez playing for a contract. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Pat Burrell, Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, and Shane Victorino are all players we think the Dodgers would covet.

Now the Phillies rotation doesn’t exactly scare us, but they’re more formidable then that of the Dodgers. Cole Hamels is the best starting pitcher in this series. Brad Lidge didn’t blow a save all season long. The Philly bullpen is downright nasty. You have to give the managerial edge to the Dodgers, and by a longshot. We don’t think Charlie Manuel could beat Joe Torre in tic-tac-toe. Not even once. Torre is the biggest advantage for the Dodgers in this series and he’ll help his team compete by himself.

In the end, Philly just has too much firepower for the Dodgers. This would be a major upset if the Dodgers could move on, but we expect Philly to hit them hard and often once the series kicks off tomorrow night in Philadelphia. These fans are rabid and they’ve waited a long time to get here. They’re much more tolerable than Massholes as well.

-Player who will have the biggest series impact: Chase Utley

Prediction: Philadelphia in 6 games.

Your 2008 ALCS Preview

After all the games, and all the slugging it out (literally); we’ve arrived at two teams left in the American League. These are very different ballclubs. The Boston Red Sox are a bit like the mid-90′s Yankees. You can beat on them, pound on them, but that the end of the day they’re always there. This is their 4th ALCS appearance in 6 years. They’re like a bad infection that not even expensive medical knowledge can get rid of.

Do you realize that only one team in Major League Baseball had longer odds than the Tampa Bay Rays to win the World Series: the Washington Nationals. To put things in perspective, if that doesn’t do it for you; the Rays had the same odds of winning the World Series as the Baltimore Orioles. If you were one of the crazy bastards out in Vegas in march and you bet the Rays to win the World Series, you’ve never been closer to cashing in a ticket worth 1:100 odds.

Really that is what this is all about. It’s David vs. Goliath. It’s good vs. evil. It’s the mightiest of fan bases in the sport vs. some innocent and somber fans in the midst of a retirement community. It’s guys who have been there over and over on the grandest stage; and delivered against a bunch of kids who have raw talent and play hard. Maybe this is what those 1994 Expos would have done if there had been no strike.

The Rays are definitely up against it. They’re going to need a ton of things to go right to win this series. In a best of 7 series, you’re truly going to have the better team come out on top. You can stand to have a bad game or even two, but over the course of 7 games; the cream will rise to the top.

These two teams also hate eachother, which should make for some interesting must-see TV. It was back on june 5th when Coco Crisp decided to charge the mound, resulting in a donnybrook at Fenway Park. That’s exactly what you wanna see at this level of the playoffs. Two teams that don’t like eachother slugging it out for a chance at immortality. People will want to come out and say that this Devil Rays team will be remembered forever; if they’re going to be remembered outside of Tampa Bay, they need to win this series. They reach immortal status if they can get to the series we believe.

That said, lets get on with it.

-Player that will have the biggest series impact: Scott Kazmir

There you go. This guy has been the franchise since there was one basically. He’ll get the ball at least two times and maybe 3 in this series. You remember how Josh Beckett threw the last few seasons in these ALCS games? Don’t be surprised if Kazmir mimics him. Only now Beckett is about 80%.

If the Rays are going to win this series, Scott Kazmir has to come up with big, gutty performances. We’re suggesting he’ll do that. It’s going to happen.

Prediction: Tampa Bay in 7 games.

The Rays are going to the ALCS

The Tampa Bay Rays have done it. Advancing 3 games to 1, they move onto the ALCS after a 6-2 victory in Chicago tonight. B.J. Upton was the catalyst, homering twice in this game before the White Sox could take a breath. Upton homered 3 times in the series in all, and we seem to recall saying that he’d have the biggest impact of any player in the series.

The White Sox go home. Ozzie Guillen can spend all offseason bittering away. One has to wonder, has Ken Griffey Jr. quietly played his final Major League game? Another team’s 2008 season is in the history books.

The Rays have a shot for immortality. This has turned from being a cinderella story we follow to simply wondering; is this a team of destiny? If Boston moves past the Angels later, this could very well be the last team that can keep the Red Sox from dynasty status. A lot of pressure for a group of young players like the Rays

[Box Score]

Curtains on the Brewers run

Our playoff horse has lost. The Brewers were defeated 6-2 in Milwaukee this afternoon and their season is over. In the end, the Brewer’s demise was defined by three things. CC Sabathia continuing to disappoint in the playoffs (although Milwaukee wouldn’t have been there if not for him anways), Prince Fielder got 1 hit–a meaningless home run in the 8th inning today, and inexperience of the manager Dale Sveum.

Philadelphia moves on to face the Dodgers. Not the matchup I would have planned on, but its two major markets so you know the big whigs in baseball are happy.

Eat a Dick Cubs, Love Steve

Who you going to blame now, fuckwads? I’m still at my cushy little IT job. I still sleep at night. I still fuck in my headphones. I still enjoy putting my bare ass in warm, deep-dish cheese pizza. What, I mean, I didn’t mean that.

(waves finger at the air like a sissy)

So take your stupid little curse. Take your stupid little left fielder named Alou. Take that dumb black manager; I think they fired him anyway….. and just. Just……. eat a big dick! And the balls too! Fags! What goes around comes around! Hmph.

(puts on Dodgers cap)

There. Now that feels good. Someone get me a Dodger dog. Thank God you buried these lame slack asses!

Hmmmmm. I wonder if they have and IT openings in South Central LA? I wonder what Hollywood is like. I wonder if my headphones will work in LA…… hmmmmm… yes…. headphones….

The ball, Harden.

Gimme the ball, Harden. Gather your shit; and get off my cock-sucking mound. Low down piece of dirty fuckbags. We go out and bring you in here, to the North side to help us win a fuckin’ championship and you join the rest of these fucking stiffs in embarrasing me. That’s right. Fucking flip the fucking ball at me like I’m some piece of shit maggot that doesn’t deserve your time. Just take the jersey off now. You’re not a member of this franchise anymore anyway. That’s right you’re done. You’ll be out of here soon enough, prick. Cause, I got news for ya Harden. You’re the fucking maggot. Not me. I’ve won postseason ballgames. I’ve been to the World Series. My dick didn’t invert when I played in October, either.

And what are you looking at over there Lee? You aged piece of cheese fucking boring garden variety shitbag? You think I need you in here for this meeting to kick Harden’s lousy ass off the field? No, I don’t. When I want to look like a cuntwrinkle in front of all these fans here in Los Angeles I’ll call you over and have a conversation with you. Wait for my signal. Oh….. wait….. here it is (exposes himself in the direction of Derek Lee).

Gimme the lefty…. Gimme the righty. Whatever-the-fuck I don’t care. (touches left arm and right arm simultaneously) I’d like to put Carlos Zambrano on one of those sticks that they barbecue a pig on. I’d like to stick an apple in his mouth and light fire underneath his yellow underbelly. I better stop thinking about this. I still have my grandchildren, my wife, my kids. They all love me. It doesn’t matter that we’re going to get swept again. It doesn’t matter (gnashing teeth) MOTHERFUCKBAG! WE’RE GOING TO GET SWEPT! YOU GOTTA BE FUCKIN KIDDIN ME SON! I WOULDN’T TRUST THIS TEAM TO SHAVE THEIR SCROTUM WITHOUT FUCKIN IT UP. (under breath) You let that jap go out and beat us like that. I wanna drive the team bus off a cliff tonight.

Here. Here’s the ball. Do something good with it dickhead (flips the ball to Micheal Wuertz). You sons of bitches really know how to make a pair of old man balls sweat good. I’m gonna fuck Soriano in his skinny black ass. Fuck this shit. Take this shit and fuck it. (Grabbs croch. Sniffs hand.)

***************

So it doesn’t really look like that whole “We’re going to win the World Series and break the 100 years curse just in time” thing is gonna work out. How’s your sweep? Sucks Chicago. You got Torre’d right outta town. You became the 2nd NL team in the last 40 years to go into the postseason with the best record and be SWEPT. You didn’t win a game. And that’s 9 games in a row when it counts that you’ve shit down your leg.

So, no worries I guess. As long as you like losing huge games. I mean there’s always next year, and the next year, and the year after that. As long as you keep talking about winning the World Series and all the curses that come with it–how about trying to, uh; like win a postseason game? Lets start small here Cubbies. Baby steps for the incompetent. Did that gay little Goat Curse apply to League Division Series too? Oh, thats right. They didn’t have that back then. You guys just manage to fuck yourselves in the pants every year. Congrats on joining the rest of us fans of loser franchises. The only difference is your team does it on the grandest of stages!

The Rest of the MLB Playoffs: League Division Series

You probably thought we wouldn’t tell you about the rest of the playoffs. You guessed wrong. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect in each series. And we let you know who wins.


-White Sox have good veteran presence in guys like Thome, Griffey, and Dye. They miss Carlos Quentin badly and it will show up in a long series.
-Tampa Bay might come out in the opening game and look flat. They’re young and they’ve came a long way. Don’t be surprised if they drop the first game at the Trop and come out looking much better from there on with their sea legs underneath them.
-There is no question that the starting pitching edge goes to Tampa Bay.
-We like Troy Percival better than Bobby Jenks if we’re selecting one of the two closers in this series.
-Joe Maddon and Ozzie Guillen are complete opposites. One is the guy you’d love to have a beer with and a great guy. The other is a guy you’d like to string to the back of your vehicle and go for a drive on the nearest freeway. That said, Maddon is overmatched here. Guillen has won a title.
-You think we’re pulling for the White Sox because of sentimentality with Griffey? Not a chance. This is without a doubt the last playoff series for Thome and Griffey. Boo hoo.

-Player who will have the biggest series impact: B.J. Upton

Prediction: Rays, 3 games to 2



-The lesser of two evils here. Neither of these teams excite us to watch.
-Cubs have the edge in arms and lineup. On paper Chicago is the better team by far.
-Two best managers in the playoffs: Piniella and Torre. If you don’t know what that means, it means you’re going to watch some fundamentally sound baseball the way it should be played this time of year. Each of these managers have won a World Series. Both were former players who had postseason success.
-The Dodgers lineup is not a threat overall, but Manny Ramirez will wow you with his bat and it should be remembered he is the primary reason the Dodgers made it here. They need to ride him if they’re going to win this. Set the table for Manny, good things will happen. I don’t care who is on the mound. Manny is one of those guys who shits on good pitching.
-The Cubs will need a big game from Ryan Dempster to take this series.
-Look for low scoring, close ballgames.
-Jim Edmonds looks like he is re-energized to win a World Series.
-That prediction that Dempster made at the beginning of the season looks awfully strong right now. The Cubs are the best team on paper in these playoffs. That doesn’t mean we have to like them.

-Player who will have the biggest series impact: call us crazy, but Aramis Ramirez

-Prediction: Chicago Cubs, 3 games to 1



-
We owe you one, fuckers.
-Francona and Scioscia. Two great in-game managers. Whoever wins this series will have a huge edge in the ALCS because of it.
-Francisco Rodriguez has had a historic season. Papelbon will be Papelbon. If either of these teams enters the 9th inning with a lead that the game is over.
-It’s hard to bet against the Red Sox postseason experience, but the fact that they let Manny Ramirez go will show up in this series. It will show up double when they see what Manny does to good Cubs pitching in the other league.
-Vladimir Guerrero isn’t the same player you remember.
-Ervin Santana has arrived as a stud. Now it’s time to earn that contract kid.
-Dice-K throws game two on the road. If the Red Sox don’t win game 1 he will need to take this game or the series will end at Fenway.

-Player who will have the biggest series impact: Torii Hunter

Prediction: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 3 games to 1

Milwaukee Brewers/Philadelphia Phillies to Slug it Out

For the first time since the year we were born, the Milwaukee Brewers are in the playoffs. Sure enough, they’re our horse this year. We want the Brewers to go all the way, because it would be good for baseball. Plus we like Prince Fielder a bit.

Yovani Gallardo will throw game 1 for the Brewers, and he opposes Cole Hamels. Fielder has gotten to him already this season.

In all seriousness, a series couldn’t intrigue us more. The Brewers have a power team with power pitching. They’ve got a manager they found on the streets (kind of), dusted off, and uniformed up. They haven’t been winners since before the Cleveland Browns. They’ve got Prince Fielder and Braun. They’ve got a guy who slides into beer mugs. They have loyal fans in a small town big city atmosphere.

The Phillies have Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. I predict the big lefty power hitter that does better (Prince/Howard) will see his team win the series. Look for one of these two to come up Large in this series beginning today.

In the end, even though the Brewers are considered the underdog, we think they just have a better team on paper. You’d give the managerial edge to Charlie Manuel; which is scary as hell in itself. Brad Lidge just might blow his first save in this series.

These are two exciting teams who will show us a slugfest one night, and will show us a great pitching duel the next. These two teams are what baseball is all about.

Prediction: Brewers over Phillies 3 games to 2

October Baseball is here

Grab some warm apple cider, start a bonfire and get ready for the most dramatic part of the MLB season. The players will tell you that when you go to spring training, this is what you show up for. Legends are made and dreams die fast and sudden.

Some guys will never make it back to this point, and some dynasties may be just starting. It’s times like this that make you think back to all those Cleveland Indians teams that could not cut through the fog and get that one ring. All those times Derek Jeter chipped it into right field at a clutch moment on those nights where you could start to feel the nip in the air. You think back to Jose Mesa, or Caminiti homering in San Diego to send the Padres to the series.

You think of Sid Bream sliding into home plate. Or how about Johnny Damon’s grand slam at Yankee Stadium? You think about the Bash Brothers succumbing to Rijo and the Reds. Albert Pujols’ do or die grand slam off Brad Lidge. The moments live forever.

All year there’s been no way to say ‘this is the one team that is going to roll and win it all’. You can’t gauge who’s going to get hot and who is going to flop and choke. There are no sure things and if you’re throwing an ace, chances are you’re facing one.

Teams are running on fumes. Managers’ hair is standing on edge. Every win means dollars for a franchise and its players and every loss the mistakes are magnified and remembered forever.

Giants will be born this postseason. Heroes will come out to play. The boys of summer have faded but don’t be fooled: this is where the Legends of the Fall are made.