Wednesday, April 27, 2005


The waiting game

Last night's Cubs game, an 11-9 loss to the Reds, is most clearly summed up with the following:

The Cubs, in the course of getting 15 hits, one walk, and two extra baserunners on errors, allowed the Reds' staff to get by with only 118 pitches.

The Reds, meanwhile, forced the Cubs staff--seven pitchers in the game, including four different lefties from the bullpen--to throw 202 pitches.

Adam Dunn--a BRPA 2004 favorite--managed to eat up 33 pitches all by his lonesome, going 2-4 with two walks and a home run.

The Cubs have, in the 13 years since I moved here and became a fan, never even come close to addressing their most consistent problem: their impatience. Only Grace--and New Sammy for a few years--understood the value of getting into a hitter's count.

Now, to be fair: when Eric Milton is pitching against you, the best method really might be to close your eyes and swing at whatever, since he gives up an astonishing number of homers (four last night). But when hacking is your approach for every plate appearance by every hitter, you should probably have a talk with your hitting coach and your general manager.

Meanwhile, in St. Louis, the Cardinals drew eight walks and won 5-3 over Milwaukee, running their record to an NL-best 13-5.

Original comments...

thatbob: And I thought Milwaukee was unbeatable!

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Big time

While the comments are down and I'm busy with work, you're all welcome to enjoy this article from's Page 2 on the all-time all-fat team.

While many in the audience will be disappointed that John Kruk didn't make it, they should remember that it's no shame to lose out when a team is being assembled from all of major-league history, just like it's no shame not to make the Hall of Fame. Many very, very good players will never make the Hall of Fame, and many very, very fat players will never crack the all-fat team.

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Comment allez-vous?

Hmm, the comments aren't working. I know the files are on the server, they're just not showing up correctly on the pages. I wonder if the hosting company upgraded PHP versions and broke the comments that way.

New comments have always been automatically e-mailed to me, and that's still working (I just tested), so I'll still be able to read your words of wisdom -- and everyone else will once I fix whatever's screwed up. Unfortunately, I won't really have time to deal with this for a while (maybe as much as a few weeks).


Friday, April 22, 2005


5-card Johnny Damon

For the second day in a row, a Baseball-Related Program Activities-related comic strip; today, it's "Nancy"...

Original comments...

thatbob: Sluggo's insight feels remarkably thin to me, but I love to watch Johnny Damon's hat pop off in any medium.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005


More Cardinals

See, I'm not the only one to make the "cardinals"/"Cardinals" joke. Today's "Over the Hedge"...

Yes, it does say "chose" instead of "choose" in the second panel. What do newspaper syndicate editors do all day?

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Monday, April 18, 2005


Baseball plans for 2005: Now it can be told

First of all, on last night's "Simpsons," astrology was described as "the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of the sciences." True enough.

Now, then, a while back, someone asked about baseball trips this summer. Sorry to say Levi and I aren't doing a big baseball road trip this year like we did last year. But -- unless gas goes above $4.00 a gallon -- Jason and I have a Western trip planned for July, involving fewer games than the trip last year...

Thursday, July 7: St. Louis at Arizona
Friday, July 8: Memphis at Albuquerque (Pacific Coast League, class AAA)
Saturday, July 9: Salt Lake City at Colorado Springs (another PCL game)
Sunday, July 10: San Diego at Colorado

We'd have done a slightly longer trip, but the baseball schedules didn't permit (for one thing, that's leading into the All-Star break for both MLB and the PCL).

Now, I also happen to know that Levi and Stacey are visiting New York next month with friends from the U.K.; I assume either the Yankees or the Mets will be in town, but their schedule might be filled with other plans. (The two minor-league teams in NYC won't be playing yet, since they're short-season Class A.)

And I have also suggested a fair number of potential itineraries to Levi and Stacey that would work if they wanted to visit southern California and see the Dodgers, Angels, and Padres. Now, Levi's predictable enough that I know his top choice would be the last weekend in July, when the Cardinals are in town to play the Dodgers, but he hasn't made a decision yet on whether or not he can make it then (or ever).

As far as I know, my first major-league game attendance this year is going to be two weeks from tonight, to see the first-place Dodgers play, that's right, the first-place Washington Nationals on May 2nd. Well, maybe they won't be in first place in two weeks, but whatever. The post-Opening Day column in the L.A. Times about how horrible the Dodgers were going to be this year is now but a distant memory.

Original comments...

Levi: I just this morning purchased several tickets in a terrible, distant-from-the-plate (maybe not even in Queens!) section of the upper deck of Shea Stadium to see the Cardinals play the Mets on May 14th.

Jim: From what I know about Shea Stadium, sounds like you'll have a very good view of the underside of airplanes.

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Monday, April 11, 2005


I've got the fever

As you may recall from a post here a few weeks ago, I wanted to hate the new movie "Fever Pitch." You can't truly hate what you don't know, so I went to the theater today, grumbling through the euphemistically-named "pre-show countdown," grumbling through the trailer for a Hilary Duff movie, grumbling through the trailer for a movie about girls sharing pants, really grumbling through the trailer for "Titanic" in space, and returning to a normal level of grumbling during the unexplained and unexplainable short promoting "American Dad." Then the actual movie started.

Oh, wow, it's just so downright charming, it's impossible to hate. And it's about baseball! Johnny Damon is in several scenes! The words "Devil Rays" come out of Jimmy Fallon's mouth! I didn't even mind Tim McCarver's brief appearance! It made me forget all about that other movie called "Fever Pitch" with Colin what's-his-name.

Seriously, Levi, I highly recommend that you and Stacey see it. If nothing else, it made me want to go see another game at Fenway Park, or fall in love with Drew Barrymore (or someone similarly cute), or preferably both.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Redbirds, white smoke

Hey, Levi, are you enjoying the fact that, so far this baseball season, there's been so much talk about Cardinals? Why, they've been getting a ton of coverage on cable news channels, not just ESPN!

Original comments...

Becky: I can't wait to see which one is going to the Pope. And will they let him do it from STL, or will the whole team have to relocate to the Vatican?

Pujols for Pope!

levi's help-mate: silly becky, the new pope will undoubtedly be from the more enlightened world of japan. check out what they are doing with cell phones!

Becky: I would like it if they showed your strat-o-matic games on your little phone cartoon

Jason: Cardinal Fang! Get.....THE COMFY CHAIR!!!!!!

Cardinal Fang: Yes sir.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Of course I'm posting this story

Baseball teams taking the train to a game? Now there's a new idea!

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"The Greatest Game Ever Pitched"

From the Yankees' 1981 yearbook. The artist did the "Spider-Man" comic strip for years, so it's nice to see that he can present an entire baseball game in only four pages.

Original comments...

thatbob: "No one will ever better Don Larsen's performance in the Greatest Game Ever Pitched!" is quite a claim. Mightn't someone pitch a perfect World Series game AND hit a couple of grand slams? And wouldn't that, by any standard, be considered a better performance?

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Monday, April 04, 2005


And what an Opening Day it was

10:00 -- Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers (ESPN 2 and FSN Detroit)
10:26 -- In the 2nd inning, the Detroit announcers mention Jeremy Bonderman's 14-strikeout game last year for the first time.
10:30 -- Milwaukee Brewers at Pitttsburgh Pirates (ESPN alternate feed and FSN Pittsburgh)
10:52 -- The Pirates announcers call Florida "bland." The state, that is, not the Marlins.
10:59 -- Dmitri Young of the Tigers hits his second home run. Do we have a Tuffy Rhodes in the making here?
11:00 -- New York Mets at Cincinnati Reds (ESPN and FSN Ohio)
11:08 -- For some reason, Jeff Daniels is in the booth with the FSN Detroit announcers at the Tigers game.
11:12 -- One of the FSN Ohio announcers makes up a new term, referring to today as "Starting Day."
11:19 -- Hey, Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, if you're going to say "let's listen to the Reds fans' reactions to Griffey coming up to bat," you should shut up for more than two seconds after you say that. I think I will eschew ESPN's coverage of this game from here on out.
11:22 -- Talking about his Tiger Stadium memories, Jeff Daniels mentions a toilet that was located out in the open in the hallway leading to the visitors' dugout. He says he was thinking about all the greats who had used it in the past, such as Joe DiMaggio, the one time he got to use it.
11:30 -- Adam Dunn of the Reds hits one to right field. It's going, it's going -- and suddenly, my TiVo switches to GSN to record "Card Sharks" as a suggestion. This is strange for two reasons: first, it's not supposed to try recording a suggestion if you've been watching live TV; second, "Card Sharks" is already being recorded on the other tuner. This isn't something I have to deal with often because I so rarely watch live TV, so it takes me longer than it should to make sure that I'm canceling the suggestion recording, not the recording I had actually set up.
11:33 -- Dmitri Young gets hit by a pitch. He's no Tuffy, I guess, but then, who is?
11:51 -- The Tigers can get Jeff Daniels, but all they can get on FSN Pittsburgh during the Pirates game is some executive from PNC Bank.
11:59 -- Saltines and Easy Cheese: snack of champions!
Noon -- Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies (not available on DirecTV, so this is the last you're going to hear about this game)
Noon -- Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox (Comcast SportsNet Chicago)
Noon -- Oakland A's at Baltimore Orioles (FSN Bay Area)
12:09 -- Historic video from 1994 on FSN Ohio: Pedro Martinez, then of the Expos, plunking Reggie Sanders of the Reds, thus ending a perfect game, and Sanders charging the mound.
12:11 -- Orioles Rodrigo Lopez and Javy Lopez's uniforms both say just "Lopez," no first initials.
12:22 -- Sammy Sosa! What's he doing here in Baltimore? Not hitting a home run, at this point.
12:32 -- Comcast SportsNet "forgot" to take their logo off the screen during a commercial.
12:34 -- Pedro Martinez records his 10th strikeout, to make this the 100th double-digit-strikeout game of his career. Who does he think he is, Jeremy Bonderman?
12:42 -- Dmitri Young hits his third home run! He's Tuffy after all!
12:49 -- Comcast SportsNet's audio level is lower than all the other channels, so I have to ride the volume on my remote when I switch to and from the Indians-White Sox game.
12:56 -- The P.A. announcer at Great American Ball Park announces Pedro Martinez's 100th pitch -- that's the first time I've ever heard that.
12:59 -- The Royals-Tigers game seems to have ended while I wasn't paying attention.
1:00 -- Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Devil Rays (FSN Florida)
1:00 -- San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies (FSN Rocky Mountain)
1:00 -- The pre-produced opening for the Devil Rays game doesn't mention Alex Sanchez. (Although they probably talked about him ad nauseam on the pregame show. But pregame shows aren't included in the MLB Extra Innings package.)
1:05 -- Don Zimmer is introduced as the Devil Rays' Senior Baseball Advisor, "in his 57th major league season."
1:08 -- Yes, there are other teams that wear vest-style uniform shirts (Royals, Rockies, etc.), but only the Devil Rays manage to make them look like The Uniform of the Future.
1:13 -- FSN Florida, a television network that's located in the United States, is actually showing the singing of "O Canada" on TV! Lots of Canadians in Florida at this time of year who might protest if they didn't, I guess.
1:21 -- The turf at Tropicana Field still looks awful on TV. It doesn't help that the other games so far today are all taking place under brilliant sunshine.
1:27 -- And Tropicana Field has plenty of good seats available, as usual.
1:34 -- FSN Pittsburgh is showing fans streaming out of PNC Park and over the bridge, so I guess that game is over.
1:40 -- The Devil Rays' slogan this year, to try to get people to buy tickets to games, appears to be "Watch It Happen," which I guess is slightly better than "Come In Out of the Rain."
1:43 -- I flip to FSN Ohio and see Pete Rose eating a salad in a commercial for local Cincinnati fast-food chain Gold Star Chili. For some reason, I doubt that Pete Rose has ever eaten a salad in real life.
1:50 -- The A's announcers are talking about a USA Today survey of players and coaches that rated the field at McAfee Coliseum the best in the American League. McAfee? What happened to Network Associates? I can't keep all these corporate names straight.
1:54 -- "Devil Rays baseball on FSN Florida is brought to you in part by Quikrete concrete products," presumably because Tropicana Field is made entirely of Quikrete.
2:00 -- Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks (ESPN 2 and WGN)
2:00 -- Minnesota Twins at Seattle Mariners (ESPN 2 alternate feed)
2:02 -- While flipping channels, I stumble across the Padres-Rockies game, which I swear wasn't listed in the DirecTV on-screen schedule as of 9:58 A.M. It's already 4-3, in the bottom of the 3rd.
2:05 -- Make that 6-3.
2:09 -- Meanwhile, the Devil Rays are down 3-1 on back-to-back homers.
2:11 -- The FSN Florida announcers, referring to Manitoba native Corey Koskie: "That ball had a lot of English on it, even though it was hit by a Canadian."
2:20 -- I switch to the Cubs-Diamondbacks game on ESPN 2 and think I see a WGN banner, so I check, and it turns out it's on WGN, too, which I didn't check beforehand. There's baseball on lots of channels!
2:30 -- I notice that DirecTV's description of the Blue Jays-Devil Rays game ends with the statement "game may be subject to blackouts in Toronto and Tampa Bay." I guarantee that anyone watching on DirecTV in Toronto is not being blacked out, since everyone watching on DirecTV in Toronto has given DirecTV a fake address somewhere in the U.S. (and since FSN Florida is what the Tampa Bay area is "supposed" to be getting, it's not being blacked out there, either).
2:34 -- Train whistles: one of the best things about watching a Mariners game.
2:46 -- The ad on the rotating board behind the home plate at Tropicana Field is for the radio station that's now carrying the games. Actually, I should put that another way: it's for the radio station that the Devil Rays are paying to carry their games. That's how woeful they are.
2:51 -- Superstation WGN's big Tuesday night movie this week is "Robocop." Hasn't everyone in the world with any interest in this movie seen it by now?
2:52 -- The Cubs are up 7-0 in the 2nd inning. Sammy who?
2:56 -- The facial hair configuration currently being sported by Toby Hall of the Devil Rays is described as "a small marsupial on his chin."
2:58 -- For the Cubs-Diamondbacks game, ESPN 2 has a beautiful, crisp picture. On Superstation WGN, the game looks like it's coming through Saran Wrap coated in Vaseline.
3:03 -- Guess the Touchstone Pictures marketing people decided not to try to sell "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" as a comedy in the TV ads (as opposed to the theatrical trailer I saw yesterday, which did make it look like it at least has certain comic elements).
3:07 -- I've been forgetting about the Padres-Rockies game, which is now 8-8 in the 6th inning. In fact, just as I flip, one of the announcers calls it "another Coors Field special."
3:15 -- In honor of the Opening Day action, I drink Cherry Coke out of an old Cubs souvenir cup.
3:20 -- The roof is being closed in Seattle even though it still looks sunny, which leads to a long discussion by the ESPN 2 Alternate Announcers on why they might be closing it. I change channels before the serious conspiracy theories can get started.
3:25 -- I see the Mets-Reds final score; looks like the Reds came back to win 7-6 after being down 6-3. In hindsight, I guess should have watched more of that game after Pedro Martinez left.
3:34 -- The Padres' sand-colored away uniforms look weird for the second year in a row.
3:39 -- The Devil Rays lose their opening game for the first time since 1999. Yes, really -- it's been the other 161 games they've had the most trouble with.
3:43 -- On the Padres-Rockies game, a 6-year-old boy is being interviewed in the stands: "Don't you have school today?" "No." "Why not?" "I'm homeschooled!"
3:59 -- The Diamondbacks still have those unexplained hot-air-balloon-shaped patches on their sleeves.
4:05 -- The FSN Rocky Mountain announcers say they're about to show a graphic with some startling statistics. When the graphic comes up, it's not all that startling; it shows that, at Coors Field, since 2003, the Padres have scored a lot more runs against the Rockies from the 9th inning on (37) than the Rockies have scored against the Padres (3). Trevor Hoffman is the big reason for the disparity. This is important because it's 10-8 in favor of the Padres in the bottom of the 8th.
4:07 -- For the first time since 10:30, I can't flip channels to avoid a commercial; all three games still going on are in a break simultaneously.
4:08 -- The problem with flipping between games is that you miss things; the Cubs announcers say something about Victor Zambrano being ejected.
4:15 -- And I flip back to the Cubs-Diamondbacks game just in time to see Derrek Lee hit a 3-run homer, and to finally hear the name of the WGN announcer whose voice I don't recognize (i.e., the one who's not Bob Brenly). It's Len Kasper -- who?
4:25 -- Despite Trevor Hoffman being on the mound, the Rockies tie their game at 10 in the bottom of the 9th.
4:26 -- And Trevor Hoffman is still on the mound when Clint Barmes hits a 2-run walk-off homer; Rockies win, 12-10.
4:35 -- The Twins-Mariners game goes final, with Seattle winning 5-1.
4:38 -- The Cubs go up 14-3 on a 2-run homer by Aramis Ramirez. Do I really have to watch the rest of this?
4:43 -- Superstation WGN ends a promo with a dig at TBS's slogan, referring to themselves as "where comedy isn't just very funny, it's super funny." This would be more piquant if it weren't a promo for "Will & Grace."
4:50 -- I take advantage of a commercial break and check my e-mail. My father informs me that at one point this afternoon, the headline on was "Dmitri Young, meet Tuffy Rhodes."
4:56 -- The Cubs get their 20th hit, and it's "only" the top of the 8th, with no outs.
4:57 -- Hit number 21, and it's 15-5.
4:59 -- 16-5. It's the most runs the Cubs have ever scored in an Opening Day game. No Sammy, no Moises Alou, no Tuffy!
5:08 -- Chicago to Pittsburgh for $29 each way on Southwest Airlines? That's insane. Levi and Stacey, you should visit Stephanie Losi sometime (she's going to be attending Carnegie Mellon starting in the fall).
5:15 -- Surely by now, director Arne Harris has gotten a camera shot of every single person in the Bank One Ballpark stands who's wearing Cubs apparel (or University of Illinois apparel)!
5:16 -- I stand corrected.
5:19 -- Wow, the Cubs only got one hit in the top of the 9th!
5:20 -- A promo for something called "Ultimate Arena Paintball," a Superstation WGN Original Production. Although I've never done it, I can see how participating in paintball yourself would be fun, but watching other people do it, as on this upcoming program, looks horribly boring.
5:24 -- Oh, Shawn Green, why are you prolonging the agony by getting a hit?
5:25 -- Oh, Chad Tracy, ditto.
5:26 -- "This is the only big league game still under way today." Yeah, no kidding.
5:27 -- Suddenly, it's 16-6. D-backs are coming back!
5:28 -- Wait, no, they're not. Matt Kata strikes out. Cubs win! Time for "Card Sharks."

And that's it. I probably won't be watching any more baseball on TV until the All-Star Game. Actually, I probably should watch a couple of Dodgers games this year, because who knows how much longer Vin Scully will be around?

Original comments...

thatbob: Sounds like a much better Starting Day than the one I had, watching the stupid Yankees beat up the beloved Johnny Damons.

I've never seen Robocop*, but I guess that doesn't answer your question.

(*all the way through)

Levi: I'm sure Pete Rose has eaten a salad . . . on a bet.

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Sunday, April 03, 2005


Kitty loves baseball

I was planning on giving Levi the first word on the first game of the season, but I think he'll agree that it was vitally important that I post this picture of my cat Chessie (who jumped off the TV shelf once the Yankees started winning)...

And I assume this commercial was met with great joy and delight in Rocketship-land...

Original comments...

Levi: Damn you, TiVo! I missed that ad completely!

Jim: That's why I haven't enabled the semi-secret "30-second skip" option -- I want to see what I'm fast-forwarding through, just in case.

I guess now you'll have to watch the commercials on every single baseball game until you see this Johnny Damon one!

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Not quite a baseball movie

Tonight I finally watched a movie that had been sitting on my TiVo since October: "The Cameraman," from 1928, starring Buster Keaton. This is relevant to this blog because there is a 5-minute sequence filmed in the then-brand-new Yankee Stadium in which Buster's character pantomimes a baseball game. (Well, of course he pantomimes it, it's a silent film.) He does so because the plot of the film is that he's attempting to impress a girl by becoming a newsreel photographer, and his attempts to film some sports action are thwarted by the fact that the Yankees are playing in St. Louis, so he sets his movie camera next to the pitcher's mound and makes his own action. Presumably, he didn't capture any of that action, because -- that's right -- he was too busy playing fake baseball to crank the camera.

Anyway, it's not as long, nor as pivotal to the film, as the baseball sequence in "The Naked Gun" (to name another non-baseball movie), but it is certainly fun, and funny.

Now it's time for real baseball. Last year, I didn't watch the Sunday night opener, and had to live vicariously through Levi's tales of Johnny Damon. I'm not making that mistake this year; I've got the TiVo set.

And then comes Monday, and once again, I'm planning to watch Opening Day baseball all day, courtesy of the fact that the MLB Extra Innings package is free for the first week of the season, at least on DirecTV. Maybe I'm remembering wrong, but it looks like there are fewer Opening Day Monday games this year than there were last year (although there's a game not shown on that schedule because it's on ESPN 2 Monday evening, Cubs at Diamondbacks). For example, neither the Dodgers nor Angels start until Tuesday...although that means I won't have to switch to a non-blacked-out channel at any point on Monday.

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Friday, April 01, 2005


He's everywhere!

Johnny Damon is on the cover of the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, along with non-baseball players Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. The cover story is on "Fever Pitch," of course, not the baseball season.

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Opening night

Could we possibly ask for a better Opening Night game?

Sunday night, we get the World Champion Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium against the World Champion (Choker Division) New York Yankees.

For the second year in a row, Johnny Damon will be our first sight of the baseball season, stepping into the box in all his glory.

And on the mound, we get pure contrast. David Wells v. Randy Johnson. Junkballer v. Flamethrower. One of the roundest guys in baseball v. the tallest, skinniest. They ought to go on the road as a comedy team. They're listed at as weighing the same, despite the Unit's six-inch height advantage. Now that's comedy.

It's time. Y'all are invited for chili and corn bread.

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It's that time.

Prediction time. Everyone should make picks in the comments. And remember: pick the Braves. It's evil, but it's better to hate them now than to hate them later.

AL East: Boring

Red Sox
Some other teams

AL Central: Not that good

AL West: Where the action is

NL East: Dan's division
Atlanta (Sorry, Dan.)
Philly (Sorry, Dan.)
Florida (Sorry, Dan.)
New York

NL Central: The one you've all been waiting for
St. Louis

NL West: No Barry, no excitement
San Diego
San Francisco

Tom Tippett over at Diamond Mind has done his usual 100-season simulation, and he has the Cardinals winning an average of 103 games and taking the division title 99 times. While I do think this is the strongest Cardinals team I've ever seen going into the season, I'm not quite as confident as that. Diamond Mind, for example, while taking account of injuries, assigns them more or less randomly, from what I can tell from Tippett's explanation. The Cardinals are relying on a couple of old guys who are very, very good, which means there's a chance that those guys will be very, very hurt.

But the only real competition, the Cubs, are relying on a rotation that has its own durability questions, a bench and bullpen that have chances to be catastrophically awful, and on an offense that has done nothing to change its habit of making a lot of outs.

So despite October's Washington Generals impersonation, I'm with my guys again. I know October 2005 is a long, long way away, but here's to back-to-back pennants.

And you folks?

Original comments:

Anonymous: How come you switched in the middle of the list from team names to city names?

Levi: No excuse: I was in a hurry this morning and edited poorly. That also explains why I have no links in the post.

thatbob: Baseball Related comes with a free predictions archive this year? Kewl! Introducing my first-ever sports predictions of any kind in any sport, informed by 2 days of game play, but still relying mostly on how much I like the teams.

Pansies the Wuss-Wusses