Ranking the World Series matchups I'd love to see
The possibility of a Subway Series died a well-deserved death a while back, sometime before Phil Hughes came back to continue his winless streak (he's only two behind Ian Kennedy now in the department of winless starts), and the chance for an Alligator Alley fight remains highly unlikely, despite the best efforts of the streaking Miracle Marlins. But some extremely enticing World Series matchups loom -- local and otherwise - including one that would be one "EL'' of a series.
Here are the best World Series possibilities that I'm starting to dream about ...
1. Cubs vs. White Sox. Of course, when he isn't thinking about his hometown Brewers, commissioner Bud Selig is praying for Cubs vs. Anyone. And well, the White Sox would surely be the best of those anyones. The Cubs have waited exactly 100 years for the World Series, as everyone knows, and there's no better finishing storyline than a matchup with their crosstown rival. I am almost salivating at the thought of a week's worth of deep dish pizza (Giordano's or Gino's East are the recommendations here) and Chicago-style hot dogs (Wieners Circle, Herm's and Gold Coast Dogs are my personal picks). While a return to work for the vitriolic, polarizing columnist Jay Mariotti, who quit the Sun-Times and is trying to go to the Tribune, would spice things up a smidgen, the one who really will missed is the late Mike Royko, the greatest of all Chicago columnists. (Note to the Northwestern Reunion Committee: If either team makes it to the LCS, count me in for my 25th.)
2. Red Sox vs. Dodgers. Manny happy returns. The hitting savant goes home to try to torment the team he tormented while he was actually with them earlier this summer. Hopefully he'll greet 66-year-old traveling secretary Jack McCormick more warmly this time. But perhaps he'll instead turn his attention to Curt Schilling, who decided to tell Boston's WEEI this week that Ramirez was a bad teammate and to insinuate that only about "10 to 20 percent'' of Manny's shenanigans got out to the public. I happen to believe that the in-house Schill's estimate is pretty close. But should he be calling anyone out in a year when he snookered the Sox out of eight million bucks? (More on that below).
3. Angels vs. Dodgers. The Hills vs. The OC. The Dodger Dog vs. the Rally Monkey. LAX vs. John Wayne. Manny vs. the game's best pitching staff. Malibu vs. Laguna. Leaving in the seventh inning vs. leaving in the eighth. Baseball's most overbearing owner vs. quite possibly its best. I can't help it; I love the allure of the crosstown matchup, even in the case where there's no public transportation and you'd have to hop on the dispiriting I-5 and wait it out.
4. Mets vs. Red Sox. A reprise of the 1986 World Series, maybe the best World Series ever. Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner (just kidding, he wouldn't do it) return to throw out the first ball.
5. Cubs vs. Rays. Lou Piniella takes his fun bunch back home to the site of his worst years in four decades in baseball. The Trop would be rocking.
6. Twins vs. Mets. The Santana Series. If the Twins make it after losing Johan Santana, Torii Hunter and Carlos Silva (much better in Minny than Seattle -- who isn't?), they deserve the trophy, flat out.
7. Twins vs. Brewers. This isn't the No. 1 choice of the TV people. But it's two nice Upper Midwest small-market stories, not to mention two very pleasant towns. Depending on where you stand, it's also a chance to hear a lot of Sarah soundalikes (personally, I'll wear ear plugs, which works for the Metrodome, anyway).
8. Mets vs. Angels. We haven't had a New York vs. Los Angeles battle for 27 years. Technically, the Angels are still in Anaheim, but I'm willing to play along. The Mets could also get a close-up look at a real bullpen.
Brewers: Worst. Defeat. Ever.
The Brewers looked better in their first three games under new manager Dale Sveum. "I see something different,'' one scout said. That may be so. But even so, Sveum faces his first major challenge following Thursday's potentially devastating 7-6, 12-inning defeat at rival Chicago. Milwaukee led 6-2 with two Cubs out and no one on in the ninth inning before closer Salomon Torres allowed four quick runs, the last three on Geovany Soto's game-tying home run.
As my friend Drew Olson of OnMilwaukee.com and the D-List radio show on ESPN 1510 in Milwaukee put it in an instant message, "Worst. Defeat. Ever.'' Excepting for maybe Mickey Owen and Fred Merkle's Boner, I'd have to concur. Worst in a regular season, anyway.
The contending Brewers looked like a club threatening to collapse when owner Mark Attanasio pulled the plug on the Ned Yost regime three days ago. And now this young team with a neophyte manager will have to overcome easily the worst loss by anyone all year. Milwaukee also ran itself out of a huge ninth inning by having J.J. Hardy thrown out at home with no one out and Corey Hart thrown out stealing and an expectation to expand a 6-2 lead. (Perhaps the Brewers were hurt there by the fact that Sveum, a more experienced third base coach, has been replaced by Garth Iorg.)
Then, making matters even worse, they failed to score after putting runners at second and third with no one out in the 12th. Beyond the obvious problem of figuring out how to forget an alltime bad defeat, the Brewers hurt their chances to win the wild card in yet another way. A Cubs win gave them a chance to clinch before they get to Queens next week, giving them less incentive to beat the Mets, which is the very team the Brewers are chasing.
Joba likely to get re-start as starter
On the subject of what has become the biggest debate in New York sports, injured Yankees catcher Jorge Posada recently made clear in an interview with Yankees announcer Michael Kay on his Center Stage show on YES that he believes Joba Chamberlain needs to stay in the bullpen to avoid further arm problems.
However, according to people in the know, top Yankees decisionmakers still want Chamberlain to start and are more likely than not to go to spring training next year with Chamberlain as a starter. Chamberlain will only say he wants "what's best for the team,'' but challenged the contention that he's fragile by pointing out that he was always a starter until last year, when he emerged as a set-up star.
Curt words: Schilling should shut up
Got to hand it to Schilling. Few folks who have spent an entire season on the disabled list and are on the cusp of retirement have the ability to make so much news. He called in to WEEI in Boston the other day to rip Manny Ramirez, who deserves some of what he gets but surely wouldn't still be under attack if he didn't suddenly improve in Los Angeles, going from .299-hitting malingerer in Boston to .401-hitting savior.
Schilling called in to say Manny "had a level of disrespect to teammates and to people that was just unfathomable.'' Manny surely wasn't on his best behavior in Boston this summer, and I don't blame Boston for making the best of what turned into a bad situation. But I'm not sure that the guy who signed a contract for $8 million (Schilling) and suddenly couldn't do a thing should be the one speaking out. Maybe Schilling hurt his arm walking his dog or typing on his blog. Whatever, he doesn't have the ability to act sheepish or show shame.
One thing I would agree with Schilling on is that agent Scott Boras can't be blamed for Manny's misbehavior. No part of Manny being Manny includes listening to someone else. And by the way, any alleged "investigation'' into any alleged plot by his handlers to get Manny out of Boston was quietly dropped long ago.