Category Archives: MLB Playoffs

The Dodgers Cowboy Up, Force Game Six in St. Louis

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[Box Score]
[Los Angeles Times]

You have to give the Dodgers some credit. I truly thought they were done, and when Zack Greinke loaded the bases in the first inning of NLCS game five today, I was sure they were done. Then I had a prophetic feeling about things:

Greinke was able to get Yadier Molina to hit into a double play, and the Dodgers seemed to gain momentum from it all. From there they scratched across two runs, with Adrian Gonzalez starting the rally and Yasiel Puig keeping it going. Greinke singled in Puig. But the Cardinals would not go down quietly.

A Carlos Beltran triple and Matt Holliday double evened scoring at 2-2. Then the Dodgers got the lift they needed.

Gonzalez homered deep into the pavilion in right field to give the Dodgers the lead. They wouldn’t trail again in the game. He would add a second home run later in the game, and the Dodgers that had failed to homer for the entire series ended up with four on the day (Carl Crawford and A.J. Ellis got in on the act).

Greinke bridged the gap nicely over to Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen, and the Dodgers held on for a 6-4 victory. They might lose this series, but they got it to Clayton Kershaw. They might lose this series, but they defended their home field in a noble manner and refused to have their season end on their field.

All the while, Don Mattingly seems to keep things cool in his meetings with the press. After a tough loss last night he said that he knew that they were going to come out and play hard, and that seemed good enough for him to resign to for the evening. After the game today he remarked that the Dodgers have become ‘America’s Team’ because the country wants to see a game seven. At this point, they’re a flashy team playing with house money. That’s somewhat dangerous.

On Friday night – they’ll have Clayton Kershaw going on five day’s rest. And we’ll all get another night of entertainment out of this team. That’s really what it’s all about this time of year if your team is out of it. They’ll get a chance to give Michael Wacha all he can handle and get a little redemption. And although they’ve shown some of their makeup with a win like today, we’ll see just exactly what this Dodger team is made of on Friday night. It would be an incredible feat to force a game seven against this seemingly unstoppable rebel force Cardinal team.

Summer is Ending for the Dodgers

 

It was a glorious year for baseball in Los Angeles. The Dodgers are an exciting, brash, star-studded group that has prompted me to take interest in them and watch far more of a St. Louis Cardinals NLCS series then I normally would have. I am sure ratings around the country are improved due to intrigued baseball fans that want to see what this team is all about. I spent a number of nights this past summer watching the Dodgers late night on MLB.tv, listening to Vin Scully tell his glorious tales. That will be part of a memory that sticks with me when I think back to MLB season 2013.

But the Dodgers season is likely ending tomorrow in Los Angeles. The Cardinals are the better team, and for the first time in the 2013 postseason, I’m going to be wrong about an end result.

The Dodgers lost tonight 4-2 in Los Angeles. Ricky Nolasco wasn’t nearly good enough, giving up a MONSTER two-run home run to Matt Holliday. The Dodgers continually tried to rally, and every rally was snuffed out by a Juan Uribe double play, or Nick Punto getting picked off second base, or Yasiel Puig getting sawed off on a Trevor Rosenthal fastball.

All night long, the baseball romantic in me kept waiting for something magical to happen in the same vein as Kirk Gibson 25 years ago tonight. When the Cardinals scored their fourth run on a Shane Robinson homer, I knew the score wouldn’t end 4-3 like that fateful Saturday night back in ’88. But I still kept waiting for someone wearing Dodger blue to get into one and tie the game. The innings came and went and it never happened.

Sure, the Dodgers have Greinke and Kershaw going the next two games, if they get by tomorrow. But it looks like Hanley Ramirez is done for the series. The Dodgers haven’t hit a home run in four games. They are completely neutralized right now, and that is why I think my pick for the 2013 World Series winner probably bows out tomorrow in a tight game.

Magical season, a ton of cool memories of a team I unexpectedly fell for a bit; but it likely ends on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-October at the hands of Joe Kelly and the St. Louis Cardinals.

When was time to ride, the Dodgers hopped on the back of the Wild Horse

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[Box Score]

[Los Angeles Times - Dodgers Now]

We told you it would be so; we told you that the Dodgers would beat Adam Wainwright in the Cardinals in game three of the NLCS. And that’s exactly what happened.

The Dodgers snapped an ugly scoreless streak by gathering a single by Adrian Gonzalez, and a huge triple from Yasiel Puig with two outs. Puig pimped it as if the ball was out. The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead and threw some big first punches against the Cardinals ace with their number three guy on the hill.

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It was obvious from the opening bell that Hyun-Jin Ryu had as good of stuff as he’s had in a long time. He was throwing 95 MPH early in the game and spotting up. He went seven shutout innings and the Cardinals didn’t really mount a threat all night long. St. Louis had four hits on the evening and don’t look now, but the Cardinals are now the team with one run in the last 18 innings.

Hanley Ramirez played with broken ribs, and he did it effectively. He had two hits including a late RBI single for an insurance run to stretch the lead to 3-0. Bigger than that was his piece of hitting that advanced Mark Ellis to third base with no one out in the inning that the Dodgers bottom of the fourth.

After Ryu exited the game, the Dodgers turned it over to their shutdown version of the pen. Brian Wilson allowed a lead off single to Jon Jay, but blew away two hitters after that to strand Jay and get out of the inning unharmed. Kenley Jansen took over in the ninth attempting to earn his first postseason save, and while he didn’t strike anyone out he was clearly overpowering in a 1-2-3 frame, giving the Dodgers their first LCS win in a number of years. Rough night in center for Jon Jay, by the way.

It’s a brand new series, and it’s good for baseball. If the Dodgers lost the game tonight, it was likely to end tomorrow night. Now the Dodgers get a crack at Lance Lynn and a chance to even this thing up. I can’t wait to watch game four tomorrow evening and see if the Dodgers have the same kind of John Wayne in them that they did tonight in the face of all odds. I thought I had the pulse of this team right, and the victory over Adam Wainwright is confirmation that it is so. This is going to be a long and bloody series.

Whose hungry for a Dodger Dog?

For the L.A. Dodgers, it’s Last Call for Drinks

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The Dodgers are in a situation where; it’s either beat Adam Wainwright or start the act of winterizing the clubhouse for the year. And they’ve done this to themselves by scoring one run in 22 innings so far in NLCS play.

It’s one of those games that looks like the Cardinals are going to win without any trouble. Hanley Ramirez has a broken rib. The Dodgers are starting Hyun-Jin Ryu, who hasn’t been effective for an extended period of time. They’re going against the giant of all big-game aces in the National League, Adam Wainwright.

And I’m telling you that as a baseball fan, if I know anything about this game at all; I know the Dodgers have the gusto and the moxy to win this game against all odds and make this a series. They’ll beat Wainwright tonight and face a more manageable task in the Cardinals game four starter (Lance Lynn).

There’s some magic this season out in Los Angeles at Chavez Ravine, and the ghosts of the past will be lurking. Don’t be surprised to see something wild late in the game tonight.

Cardinals Pitching Dominates Dodgers Again in NLCS Game Two

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[Box Score]

[ESPN Los Angeles]

Wacha Wacha!

Alright, so I didn’t see this game – I was playing the best 18 holes of my life – so it’s hard to analyze it too much. The Dodgers find themselves in an 0-2 hole. I saw that Yasiel Puig struck out four more times.

The Dodgers, my playoff horse that I’ve strapped my oxcart to; are now facing a game three in Los Angeles against Adam Wainwright that basically keeps their hopes alive. They counter with Hyun Jin-Ryu. And the thing rigth now is; there’s just not much an opportunity to score runs off anyone. No one in the St. Louis bullpen gives up any runs (9.2 innings of scoreless baseball so far in the NLCS) and it’s not like the St. Louis rotation is going to allow anything substantial. So how the Hell do you score off these guys? How the Hell did the Pirates beat these pesky bastards twice?

The Cardinals aren’t exactly knocking the cover off the ball themselves. Clayton Kershaw was pretty strong today and the game’s lone run was scored on a sacrifice fly and was unearned.

The Dodgers are definitely up against it now. They’re making my bold and brash predictions about them rolling the Cardinals seem foolish and unfounded. It looks like everything is going their way. Hanley Ramirez didn’t play today. Andre Ethier was out of the lineup hurt (though I saw that he struck out to end the game). Yet still, I want to make it clear that I believe this Los Angeles team is made of enough gusto to scrape themselves off the canvas and answer the bell for the next round.

The Dodgers are going to beat Adam Wainwright in game three, and it’s going to swing the series. They’re going to do it at home in that magical, bright ballpark with the palm trees. They’re going to do it because Wainwright – while he’s a horse – that game give against the Pirates took more out of him then anyone realizes. It’s a lot to ask a guy to come back and be that sharp again after that kind of high workload. Wainwright has a lot of miles on his arm and we’ve already seen a decent offensive team in Cincinnati get to him in the not so recent past.

Los Angeles is desperate, and they’ll need something more out of Puig and Adrian Gonzalez among others; but if they win game three, the Cardinals don’t have a set answer for game four as far as a starter. Shelby Miller is going to be phenomenal, but the Dodgers can get to him. If the Dodgers can even this series at two; and I believe they will, there will be no turning back for them. Reaching way down deep within themselves and finding a way to win game three is the biggest domino that needs to fall at this point.

Hopefully now that Puig had a sombrero to wear on his plane ride back to SoCal, the Dodgers have had a chance to clear their minds as a team. Getting back to Los Angeles will help. The Cardinals are all the talk right now for having flawless pitching performances, and if they continue to get them there just isn’t much that can be done. But what are the chances that the Dodgers could actually get another one of these gems from their entire pitching staff? Someone has to slip, and the Dodgers will be waiting in the weeds.

And what the Hell is this with the entire series being on TBS? Is this hockey, Selig? I’ve defended you in the past you dopey, Donald-Duck dweebosaurus; but put the damn national LCS games all on FOX or a network that we all know the channel number on. Get your head out of your ass!

Carlos Beltran is the difference maker in a Phenomenal NLCS Game One

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[Box Score]

Yea, so that game was unbelievable last night. I think the game was just a preview of what we’re going to see all series long, and I wouldn’t count the Dodgers out of this yet. Here are my thoughts on the game, as I watched all 13 innings until the bitter end:

  • Carlos Beltran owned the night. He had the 2-run double that tied the game. He had the unreal throw from right field to nail Mark Ellis at home plate. He predictably (especially by that point in the action) had the game-winning hit in the 13th. Carlos Beltran owns the postseason I’ll never forget the first postseason I watched Beltran back in 2004 against the Cardinals when he was a Houston Astro. He was unbelievable back then and people thought he was just playing for a contract.
  • I didn’t like Don Mattingly’s move to pinch-run Dee Gordon in a tie game, effectively ending Adrian Gonzalez’s evening. Not in a tie game on the road. Maybe if you’re down a run, but Mattingly had to know this game could go into extra innings and he would miss out on a few turns through the lineup of Gonzalez’s spot. Michael Young couldn’t get much done.
  • The St. Louis pen is going to be near impossible to score upon. I’m starting to think all of these games are going to be low scoring totals for the Dodgers. I’m surprised that Edward Mujica didn’t even enter the game.
  • Yasiel Puig didn’t have it last night. He went 0 for 6 with a couple of K’s. He had a great play to throw a runner out at first for an outfield assist and a double play, though.
  • Uribe, Carl Crawford, and Ellis were the only Dodgers with two hits. Uribe’s 2-out single plated the Dodgers only two runs.
  • Zack Greinke was about as flawless as you could ask for. Eight innings, 10 strikeouts, he made only the one mistake to Beltran. He looked the part of ‘ace’ last night.
  • I am shocked the Dodgers didn’t have more success against Joe Kelly, but he didn’t exactly appear to be a ‘weak link’ type last night, throwing 95-97 running in and spotting up corners of the plate.
  • The Cardinals effectively pitched around Hanley Ramirez who was on base four times.

Clayton Kershaw against Michael Wacha today. This should be another memorable day in NLCS history.

Previewing the Dodgers/Cardinals NLCS

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Baseball fans are going to be treated with some excellence in the form of this League Championship Series.

We have the best two teams in the National League, each with it’s own storied past; and a roster dotted with star chess-pieces to go with it. This is as excited as I’ve been for a playoff series in a long time, and it’s a compliment to both teams because I think it’s going to make for some tremendous baseball over the next week-plus.

Both of these teams have one thing that jumps out at me – major thump in the middle of their lineup. Los Angeles has Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzlez, and Yasiel Puig with Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, and Juan Uribe playing Robin to their Batman act. The Cardinals counter with a lineup containing Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday, David Freese, Carlos Beltran and Matt Adams.

To me, that’s a coin flip in terms of lineup talent. I like the Dodgers big three better than I like any three of the Cardinals big three, but I probably like the Cardinals overall lineup talent more.

What that means is that the team who gets better starts from their rotation will probably have an edge on the series – and it doesn’t mean that they’ll win the series because a team is really only as good as their bullpen.

The Cardinals used Adam Wainwright to get to the series, so they’ll open up with Joe Kelly and Michael Wacha against Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. From there it will be Wainwright in game three against Hyun Jin-Ryu presumably and that game three is a swing game that the Cardinals must find a way to take.

Overall, I like the Dodgers starting rotation more; but it’s extremely close. If the Cardinals can find a way to beat the Dodgers tomorrow night in game one with Joe Kelly on the bump, this series heavily swings in favor of the Cardinals. While Kelly is a fine arm talent, he’s a guy who should be handled by the Dodgers offense. It helps that the game is in St. Louis, but Greinke over Kelly is an immediate Dodgers edge.

In terms of managers I think Mike Matheny has the experience edge but I don’t necessarily think that he’s going to end up having a better managerial career than Don Mattingly. I always thought Mattingly – who reminds me of Bill Murray in a baseball uniform – would end up leaving a terrific legacy as a manager. Again, a lot of similarities in these two men and it would be considered a near “push” with a slight edge towards Matheny because he was in the NLCS last season.

It looks like the Cardinals are going to use Trevor Rosenthal as their closer, and I think that’s a good decision. Rosenthal has unstoppable stuff and if handed a lead the game is probably over. I feel just as strongly about Kenley Jansen, I think he’s the next big thing in baseball at the back of a bullpen. I trust the Cardinals bullpen more overall than I do that of the Dodgers, but neither is a weakness.

What makes this such an intriguing series is the fact you have two seemingly complete teams facing off. Both of these squads give the feeling that they were meant to be here, there was no sneaking in. The Dodgers have been on fire since July (ending the season with a 42-8 run), destroying everything in their path. For the Cardinals it was just another steady year.

Conclusion and Prediction: I like the Dodgers to win this series in a long series, we’ll say six games. The Cardinals are a formidable opponent who will test Los Angeles and even at times appear to be in control of the series, but at the end of the day the team with more mojo flowing is the team from the West Coast. I have had a feeling about the Dodgers since back in late June and early July, and since then I’ve seen nothing but a hot team that has the balls bouncing their way. Yasiel Puig is the most exciting player the league has seen in a number of years, and he seems to energize the Dodgers on a nightly basis. I also think the Dodgers have the advantage of being able to throw Greinke and Kershaw four times if they choose to; asking Wainwright to match them twice is fine, but asking Michael Wacha to do the same is asking an awful lot of a rookie that already had no-hit stuff once in the playoffs. I said the Dodgers would go to (and win) the World Series months ago, and I still think that will be the case.

Game Five in St. Louis: Pirates vs. Cardinals

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They don’t get much bigger than this one tonight. The classic David vs. Goliath story: the over-achieve Pirates who haven’t been here in 20+ years against the team that has seemingly been here dozens of times it seems like in recent history.

I’m giving the Pirates way more of a chance to win this one than the rest of the general public is. They have a shot, based on the fact that I think they’re a scrappy bunch that has responded and risen to the occasion all year long when they were counted out by others and Cole is an electric arm that could do exactly what Michael Wacha did in game four. You build a small lead, let Cole shove off for seven or eight inning and ask the bullpen for six or less outs; there just isn’t much St. Louis can do.

St. Louis as an organization and Adam Wainwright especially has been here so many times it seems almost inconceivable that anyone in their right mind would pick the Pirates to advance to the NLCS. If they do, we’ve got a good surprise for you readers. If not, it was a hell of a season for the Buccos.

But I can assure you – the guys in that Pirate dugout under Clint Hurdle are not scared. They think they’re going to win tonight. They believe they’re the better team and they’ve been given this hope because they’ve beaten the Cardinals in 2013 enough times to know that this is a true coin-flip game.

This is going to be a tremendous game.

Juan Uribe hits a legendary home run to win the Dodgers an unbelievable game

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[ESPN Los Angeles]

They don’t get much bigger then the two-run shot that Juan Uribe hit in Los Angeles to send the Braves home and send the Dodgers to a 4-3 victory and the NLCS. I’ve seen enough. It’s the Dodgers year.

It wasn’t like they drew it up. Freddie Garcia matched Clayton Kershaw for six innings. The Dodgers gave up the lead in the 7th inning, and trailed by that score until the bottom of the 8th when Yasiel Puig came to face David Carpenter. Carpenter got a couple great pitches by Puig for strikes and in a two-strike count, Puig energized the Dodgers as he’s done time and again this year.

Freddie Freeman was not guarding the foul line in a no-doubles defense, and Puig laced a double down the line that was cut off by Jordan Schafer – and Puig’s incredible speed was evidenced by legging out the double. Uribe failed to get down a couple of bunts and reminded the world that he could be the worst bunter among regulars in the big leagues.

A few seconds later, Uribe caught a letter-high fastball from Carpenter that landed in the Dodgers bullpen. If you’ve been watching baseball for any amount of time, you knew that was a crushing blow. The Braves were broken with that moment.

Kenley Jansen came on in the ninth, blew away Schafer, Heyward, and Justin Upton and the Braves season was over.

There is a magic surrounding the Dodgers. Carl Crawford hit two home runs in this game to put the Dodgers ahead 2-0 early, but the Braves battled back opportunistically when the Dodgers made mistakes in the field, namely by Adrian Gonzalez.

This loss is not an indictment of the Braves honey bear manager, Fredi Gonzalez. He’s definitely horrific, and it’s not surprising that his teams seem to always face this collapsing fate. But the Braves and Gonzalez couldn’t have managed this much differently. Carpenter was throwing gas. Sometimes, Juan Uribe just homers.

The Dodgers await the opponent they will devour, either the Cardinals or the Pirates. Whoever it is will be next to be fed to the monster that is the LA Dodgers.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers are The Real Deal

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[Box Score]

The Dodgers proved that they’re the team to beat in the National League last night, by overcoming an early 2-0 deficit to the Atlanta Braves and a rocky start by Hyun-Jin Ryu in his playoff debut to win 13-6 in the first Dodger Stadium playoff game of 2013.

Observations:

  • Julio Teheran came out throwing hard, but was leaving balls down the middle of the plate. The Dodgers did exactly what they needed to do in facing him by having quality at-bats and not panicking when they fell behind early. Teheran worked himself into a high-stress inning in the bottom of the 2nd, and with the bases loaded Ryu hit a line drive that almost got over the head of Justin Upton. The poke by the pitcher got the Dodgers on the board, and they never looked back. The next hitter up (Carl Crawford) hit a three-run home run into the right field bullpen, Dodgers lead 4-2.
  • The Braves proved to be nothing if not resilient. Ryu made a few blusters to let them back in it. He missed first base on what should have been a double play and errantly threw home on a tapper back to him. The Braves tied the game at 4-4, and then the Dodgers bats continued the outpour.
  • Yasiel Puig had three hits, line drives to left-center, center, and right field. He scored three times and drove in three runs. Here’s one of those rapier shots. In true Yasiel Puig fashion, he has six hits in his first three postseason games.
  • Hanley Ramirez is absolutely on fire. The Dodgers heart of the order is laying waste to the Atlanta pitching staff; factor in that Juan Uribe also hit a home run and that’s a pretty terrifying four bats in the middle of the Dodgers order.
  • The Dodgers really got into the Atlanta bullpen. Jordan Walden had to throw an extended workload and Alex Wood was in long-relief. That should give the Dodgers an edge today if things are close in a late situation. Conversely, the Dodgers had to use Kenley Jansen to close out the game because Atlanta mounted a min-rally in the ninth.
  • The game didn’t seem the same without Vin Scully calling it. It just didn’t feel right watching a baseball game at Dodger Stadium of such magnitude without Vincent narrating it.

The Dodgers go with Ricky Nolasco tonight and the Braves counter with Freddy Garcia. Freddy Garcia was throwing in the big leagues the year I got my driver’s license. I don’t see how Atlanta could win this game with the way the Dodgers have been swinging it, unless of course the game of baseball decides to rear it’s ugly head and they beat themselves. I bet on the over 7.5 in this one tonight at 9:30 at Chavez Ravine. It’s going to be another late night.

Big Game in Los Angeles Tonight

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The Dodger Dogs will be flowing.

HUGE game going down in a few hours in SoCal.

Dodger Stadium plays host to game three of the NLDS between the Braves and the Dodgers. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Julio Teheran oppose one another. The loser of this game is in huge trouble. I haven’t been able to watch this series like I’ve wanted – but that’s going to change tonight.

Football takes a back seat, and October baseball is going on the tube in the family room come 8:00 PM ET. This is going to be a great game.

Sonny Gray looks the part of Superstar

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[Box Score]

Sonny Gray has the name of a star and shined last night in his MLB postseason debut. He out-dueled Justin Verlander in one of the better baseball games in recent history. Gray went eight strong shutout innings and struck out nine holding the game scoreless and allowing the A’s to steal a 1-0 victory in the bottom of the ninth.

And perhaps Gray ends up being the great young arm that a guy like Rich Harden could never be consistently for Oakland. From the first time we saw him pitch (his MLB debut in relief in Pittsburgh) we thought he had electric stuff despite having a small frame. Gray is the type of arm that could get the A’s on a roll all the way through the postseason.

Yasiel Puig is on the board in the MLB Playoffs

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[Game One]
[Game Two]

The Los Angeles Dodgers are my playoff horse for a couple of reasons. I’ve been saying they’re going to the World Series since June, and they’ve got the most electric player in the game in their lineup. For these reasons, and so I can maintain interest in my favorite sport with my team eliminated; we’ll follow Los Angeles’ journey through the playoffs.

Yasiel Puig opened his playoff career by going 2 for 4 in Los Angeles’ 6-1 win in Atlanta. Tonight he went 1 for 4 in Atlanta’s 4-3 win.

Sunday night will serve as the big break even game at Chavez Ravine.

They’ve played two games, nothing has been decided, and now it’s a best of three series to decide whose season ends. The Dodgers are going to get this done.

<3 Tommy

The Cleveland Indians have a Playoff Game Tonight

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For the first time since the 2007 ALCS have the Cleveland Indians been involved in a postseason game. It was October 21st, 2007 and they lost game seven to the Boston Red Sox – who ironically awaits them if they get by the fully loaded Tampa Rays tonight.

My buddy Justin is in Cleveland for the game. He’s excited. And it’s hard to blame him. We had so many great nights watching the Tribe do battle in the playoffs in the mid to late 90’s. Maybe this is the team who brings Cleveland it’s first title in I don’t know how long. Maybe it comes in a completely unexpected form. There’s something a little bit exciting about the possibility of that for my home state.

It’s a great night for baseball. I think the Rays are good enough to go to the World Series. This is going to be another night of high drama. Full report of the Tribe/Justin later.