My AL picks are looking much better, and it looks like I was even too generous in expecting the ALDS to last very long. The Indians (with the help of a biblical plague) have taken a 2-0 lead over the Yankees, and it's highly unlikely that the Yankees will be able to win Game 3, let alone the series itself. George Steinbrenner made a statement today saying pretty explicitly that Joe Torre's job is on the line in this postseason. This isn't much of a surprise, but I am a bit shocked that the Boss would come out and say it.
As for the Red Sox, they've got a 2-0 lead over the Angels in the series, and they've got a 2-0 lead in Game 3, which is going on as we speak. Ortiz and Ramirez hit back-to-back homers, and Schilling is looking pretty sharp. I thought the Angels would at least be able to pull out a win somewhere, but now it just doesn't look like that's going to happen. I would very much look forward to a Red Sox/Indians ALCS, since it would pit the two best teams in the postseason against each other in a best-of-7 series.
- The Pirates fired Jim Tracy after just two seasons. This isn't a really big surprise, as a new management team often likes to bring in their manager, and Tracy hadn't done much to support his continued tenure as the skipper of the Pirates. Tracy seems to be a good guy, but his eternal optimism and odd tactical moves mean he's not the guy to captain a team that needs a strong hand at the helm.
- Option news: The Cards picked up the $8 million option on Jason Isringhausen as closer. I'm not a big fan of Isringhausen, who's had some good success as the St. Louis closer, but isn't a solid long-term investment. And with Walt Jocketty gone, I think the time has come to get rid of the mid-level salary drains on that club and just start anew under Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, and Scott Rolen. It wouldn't be a rebuilding, per se, just because those three players alone could contend in the NL Central.
- We should hear the fate of Phillies manager Charlie Manuel within the week. Manuel has taken a lot of heat in Philadelphia since his arrival, and with the disappointing sweep at the hands of the Rockies, there will be some pressure to get rid of him. But I hope that ownership resists the temptation to make such a short-sighted move. Manuel has his faults, but he doesn't deserve to be the scapegoat for the team's shortcomings this year, and I'm not sure he's done such a terrible job anyhow. And you can't underestimate the importance of just making the postseason, even if the Phillies fell short in the opening round.
- Is it too much to ask that the baseball media find a way to differentiate between Jeff Weaver (Mariners has-been pitcher) and his brother Jered Weaver (productive Angels young pitcher)? Because on two occasions now I've seen Jeff's name or picture imposed in place of Jered's. It's Jered Weaver who's pitching for the Angels this afternoon. Jeff is not.
- I'm liking the MLB on TBS, although there are some pretty awkward issues they need to get through. Their sideline reporter, Craig Sager (? I think) not only wears distracting suits, but has a lot of trouble finding the camera and asking releveant questions. Frank Thomas, their in-studio commentator, was apparently given no preparation or training at all for his on-air duties, and appears to be confused and lost in the world of TV broadcasting.
But I do like the Braves broadcasters (Chip Caray, Joe Simpson) and I like that they're bringing in some good broadcasters from other stations, such as Don Sutton and the great Steve Stone. I'm not sure what they saw in Bob Brenly, but he's at least tolerable. And I always thought Tony Gwynn was underrated in the broadcast booth.
Now TBS just needs to pull those ads for "Frank TV," because they've successfully convinced several thousand baseball fans not to watch it. I myself have seen the ad dozens and dozens of times, and I don't even watch all the games.