“Daydreaming”

It’s been a while since I wrote a poem. This one is inspired by the Spring weather and someone special.

“Daydreaming”

by Derek Felix AKA D Flex

 

It’s all out there for you to see

Each day a riddle onto its own

Filled with adventure and mischief

Choose wisely and be your destiny

 

We drift like the March wind

Floating out to sea

Spring rings eternal

Full of hope and promise

 

Feel the love in the air

Sparkle in your eyes at blue skies

As the bright sun appears

Birds chirping and kids screaming

 

Fun for all to be had

No more time for sorrow

Just puffy whites with angels above

Watching over us everyday

 

Rise above it like a rose

In full bloom like a full moon

Stars filling our skies

As we believe a bit more

 

Feel the waves in the ocean

Play like drum beats

As you walk on by

Clearing your soul

 

Nowhere to go but up

Climb the mountain

And see paradise

Put on some shades and live

 

Fly sky high

Like a plane in full flight

Don’t ever wake up

In case you’re daydreaming

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Untitled

Untitled

D Flex

 

You look skyward at the moon

Glowing a golden pear

Surrounded by rainbow heaven clouds

Reaching out as if you can touch its floating dimension

That magically brightens the night

Stars lighting up like Broadway

With spotlights all around

And everyone’s just waiting for it to go dim

And then the curtains shall unfold

Into a stage worthy of God’s angels

Creating a perfect night

That will leave us all breathless

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Random Thoughts: In Mourning

32050_556968274638_68701163_32100365_1398136_nToday is the wake for my good friend Lyndzay. I haven’t slept at all. I keep asking myself why and wind up dumbfounded. The Jamaican King is watching over us right now probably kicking it with the same spirit he owned our place with.

What’s it all for? I’m not sure. We’re brought into this world to eventually die. A crazy yet daunting thought on life. It’s just a matter of when and how. Futuristic was only 20. A young pup full of life, injecting it around those he loved. The world was a better place because of you and I’m having a very difficult time with this. How could you be gone from our lives? Regardless, I’ll never ever forget you and continue to keep your spirit alive as will everyone that ever knew you.

I know you would want us to have fun and put our minds and bodies to good use as you did, harnessing your special musical talents. You truly had the gift and that will be on display later today and in the future.

I may speak at the ceremony tonight. I know exactly what I’ll say. Always happy, smiling, making others laugh and sharing your wonderful prowess. There was never a dull moment or bad time had. Like your unbelievably strong family, you are a gift from up above. One of God’s angels I’m convinced. On what amounts to a challenging day nobody wants to be part of, I’ll try to hold my head high because that’s what you would’ve wanted.

See ya on the other side Dyaygo Escobar. Bow Bow! :-(

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Yankee$ sign Teixeira

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any crazier, it does as the Yankee$ sneak in and scoop up first base slugger Mark Teixeira inking him for eight years, $180 million.

I don’t know if this even surprising anymore. Especially with both the Red Sox and Angels bowing out withdrawing offers while the dreadful Nationals were still in hoping to get him. Would you sign with a last place team or with one who spends like no tomorrow in order to win? Seems like a no-brainer.

I just don’t get how the Yanks can spend all this money. Oh wait. That’s right. They’re THE YANKEES!!!!! What bad economy?

The same franchise which gets more and more help from Mayor Bloomberg and New York City with their new precious stadium and can’t afford an extra seven million for Andy Pettite proves it can still overpay for top tier talent.

I’m done with this team. I can’t root for them anymore. It’s no longer fun. If they go and win a World Series, I’ll be happy for the Mariano Riveras, Derek Jeters, Jorge Posadas, Chien-Ming Wangs and Jobas.

Those to me are the only real Yankees left. Not the mercenaries who come here to make every last dollar. But as someone might say, what is a real Yankee these days anyway?

It’s all about greed.


There once was a team who won and did things right

Now all they do is buy everyone in sight

I’ll let ya know when I finish. Gotta go.

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Say It Ain’t So Cubbies

Say It Ain’t So is one of my favorite songs and I got to see Weezer 10-11 days ago at MSG. And boy does it apply to Lou Piniella’s Cubs who were unceremoniously swept out by Joe Torre’s Dodgers last night ending yet another disappointing October for the lovable Chicago club who plays in the amazing scenery known as Wrigley Field. It’s now a full century of frustration for friends like John “JPG” Giagnorio and Mike Rosen and I really do feel for them.

Their team gave such an awful account of themselves in the three games getting outscored 20-6 while failing to hit in the clutch or field in Game Two or do anything better when they won the most games (97) in the National League- second to only the 100-win Angels who are about to be swept again by the Red Sox unless they figure out a way to solve Josh Beckett later today. Much easier said than done.

I really want to say so much about the Cubs and the lack of energy they displayed really reminding me of the Torre Yanks from a couple of years ago and how uncompetitive they were in those two losses at Detroit.

I’ll have much more on this later.

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More HB: October Edition Night 2

-Or maybe I should say Day Two since that really is what it is at this juncture. In case anyone missed it, the Red Sox again took care of the Angels coming back to defeat them 4-1 out on the left coast late last night. The big blow came off the bat of Jason Bay, who delivered a sixth inning go-ahead two out two-run home run off losing Angels’ starter John Lackey. The ex-Pirate was the man they got in return for Manny Ramirez. So, it was a great night for both as they each hit homers and helped lead their respective teams to Game One victories.

The Sox added two runs in the ninth off LA setup man Scot Shields with rookie Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz adding RBI base hits for the final margin giving the defending world champs home field with Josh Beckett waiting to go in Game Three at Fenway. At worst, the Red Sox come away with a split. Game Two isn’t till tomorrow night with Dice-K taking on Ervin Santana.

Boston’s Jon Lester rewarded Terry Francona with a solid seven frames allowing only a run on six hits while walking one and striking out seven to pickup the win.

-Meanwhile for the Angels, the question becomes can they overcome Boston’s psychological edge which has seen them take 10 straight, matching a major league record for consecutive wins in the postseason over one opponent tying Oakland’s dominance over Boston (1988-03). Ironically, it was in 2003 when the Red Sox overcame an 0-2 deficit winning three straight over the A’s including the deciding game on the road advancing to the first of two memorable ALCS versus the archrival Yankees.

Can the Halos recover psychologically to get back in this series or will they continue not to hit in money situations stranding 14 Wednesday. They need Santana to deliver tomorrow but must deliver big hits as well to take pressure off. We’ll see what Mike Scioscia’s ballclub is made of

-The Rays got off to a good start today in their first ever postseason in the franchise’s 11-year history posting a 6-4 Game One home win over the White Sox. The big story was rookie third baseman Evan Longoria, who hit homers in his first two at bats off losing Chicago starter Javier Vazquez. With the game scoreless, he started the second inning by taking Vazquez’ first offering deep to left center for his first career postseason dinger.

The White Sox responded thanks to Dewayne Wise’s three-run homer off Tampa starter James Shields in the third to go ahead 3-1. However, the pesky Rays came right back with three in the bottom frame thanks to Akinori Iwamura’s run scoring triple, replacement first baseman Willy Aybar’s sac fly (came in for Carlos Pena who left with eye injury) and then Longoria drilled a two out solo shot for his second homer in two at bats allowing the Rays to reclaim a 4-3 lead.

The former 2006 No.3 overall pick’s big day wasn’t done. With two runners on, he drove home his third run of the day with an RBI single plating B.J. Upton increasing the lead to 5-3. Carl Crawford singled home Aybar making it a three-run lead. What a brilliant start to Longoria’s playoff career!

Shields, who settled down after Wise’s homer ran into trouble in the seventh walking a couple to load the bases with one out forcing Joe Maddon to go to his pen calling on hard thrower Grant Balfour to get out of it. It proved to be a great move as Balfour dialed up his mid-90′s heater striking out an overmatched Juan Uribe and Orlando Cabrera with the latter allowing the reliever to get extra pumped up due to the White Sox shortstop’s foolish kicking of the dirt after ball one as the two exchanged heated words. Balfour responded by getting him swinging and telling him to take a seat. Good to see such intensity under big circumstances. Though we’re still not sure what provoked it. But it made for entertaining playoff baseball like you’ve seen in Major League I and II.

With veteran closer Troy Percival unavailable for this round, the Rays got a 1-2-3 eighth and two K’s from J.P. Howell and then veteran Dan Wheeler worked around a leadoff Paul Konerko solo blast retiring the next three for the save in their 6-4 win.

The Rays aim to go up 2-0 sending Scott Kazmir against Mark Buehrle in a battle of lefties tomorrow.

-In the second game today, so far it’s been mostly Phillies as they used a Shane Victorino two out second inning grand slam following a Pedro Feliz RBI double to score all five of their runs off Milwaukee ace C.C. Sabathia, who’s shown some exhaustion in his fourth consecutive start on three days rest. Staked to a one-run lead on a J.J. Hardy RBI walk off Philly starter Brett Myers, the potential NL Cy Young ran into trouble having a loss of control with two outs in the second. With a run already in on Feliz’ two-bagger, he lost Myers walking him and then walked Jimmy Rollins on four straight pitches loading them up for scrappy center fielder Victorino. I could tell he was in trouble and when he fell behind, I told buddy Brian Sanborn I felt a bases clearing triple coming. With the count 2-1, Victorino did one better drilling the next pitch over the left field wall for a huge grand slam suddenly making it a five-run inning to put the Phils in control up 5-1.

That’s where they still are after a scoreless fourth from Myers, who settled down after loading the bases early walking in one before getting Corey Hart to chase grounding into a 1-2-3 inning ending twin killing.

Entering the fourth, Sabathia’s thrown 72 pitches. We’ll see if he can keep the deficit at four and give his team a chance.

-In other MLB news, no surprise as both Brian Cashman and Omar Minaya were renewed by the Yanks and Mets respectively a day apart. Yesterday, Cashman re-signed for three years, six million and today, Minaya got his much rumored four-year extension through 2012 that includes options for 2013 and 2014.

After seeing his team miss on the final day of the regular season against the Marlins at home a second straight year blowing another division lead with 17 left, Minaya’s being given yet another opportunity to make fans forget this mess and improve the team enough to finally get back to October and compete for a World Series.

Ditto for Cashman, who saw the Yanks miss the postseason entirely for the first time in 15 years with him passing on Johan Santana, who performed very well in his first season at Shea even overcoming a torn cartilage in his left knee to toss one of the best games in Met history- shutting out Florida on three hits while fanning nine on the second last game of the season giving his team a chance. The 29 year-old veteran southpaw underwent successful knee surgery yesterday and is expected to be ready for Spring Training. He finished 16-7 with an NL best 2.53 ERA with 206 strikeouts in 234 and a third- eclipsing 200 K’s for a fifth straight time.

A quote from Mets owner Jeff Wilpon pretty much applies not just to his team’s situation but to Cashman’s as well as he attempts to restore order in the Bronx moving forward in what promises to be a busy offseason for both NY teams:

“Hopefully, the fans understand that as owners, we’re here as the voice of the fans, and we’re asking all these questions. And after some intense review this offseason, we’re going to find out why we fell short the last two seasons. And it’s up to Omar and his staff to correct that. But we are asking those tough questions.”

-The Phils have them loaded again with a gassed Sabathia coming out. We’ll update what happens later.

-Don’t forget a must win for the Cubs who send Carlos Zambrano to the hill tonight against Dodger 16-game winner Chad Billingsley. Sweet Lou’s club needs a win for their psyche.

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More HB: October Baseball

-The baseball playoffs kickoff today with three of the four Division Series starting up with the Phillies hosting the Brewers, the defending champion Red Sox visiting the Angels and the Cubs taking on the Dodgers.

Last night, the White Sox became the eighth and final participant thanks to splendid pitching from John Danks, who limited the Twins to two hits over eight shutout frames en route to a 1-0 win in their one-game playoff last night in the Windy City to clinch the AL Central. Jim Thome’s 34th home run of the season off Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn which ledoff the seventh was the difference in a game that saw both teams combine for a run on seven hits.

The White Sox got a big defensive play by veteran center fielder Ken Griffey, Jr. who with the game scoreless tossed out Michael Cuddyer at the plate on a short fly to complete a 9-2 inning ending double play. The much likable future Hall Of Famer deflected attention paying homage to veteran backstop A.J. Pierzynski for catching the ball and in one motion applying the tag on a throw which he caught on the third base side of the plate:

“That play, all I had to do was make a good throw. The credit is all A.J. I put a two-hopper in there and he was able to get it and block the plate. That’s the key there. He put his body on the line for us.”

“He did a heck of a job,” Thome added of Griffey, who’s making his first postseason appearance since 1997 with Seattle. “I’m so happy for him, too.”

Closer Bobby Jenks came on to work a perfect ninth for his 30th save.

For the Twins, who dealt away ace Johan Santana for a four-player package which included speedy center fielder Carlos Gomez, it was a disappointing conclusion to what was a good year where they came oh so close to still making October.

“You never want to put 162 games all into one game, but that’s what ended up happening,” Twins first base slugger Justin Morneau lamented despite a great second half finishing one RBI shy of AL leader Josh Hamilton. “It’s going to hurt for a while and it’s going to be a long night for sure.”

Even in not the most productive lineup, the 27 year-old former 2006 AL MVP had a terrific season finishing at .300 with 23 dingers and 129 RBI’s- one shy of his career best two years ago. Morneau’s proven himself as one of the best young sluggers in the game and along with great hitting catcher and teammate Joe Mauer, whose .328 mark was good enough for the batting title should continue to lead Minnesota forward into their new stadium.

Ron Gardenhire did another tremendous job and should merit some AL Manager of The Year consideration though ultimately, Tampa’s Joe Maddon will justifiably take it home. One of these years, it’s all going to come together for the Twins which is a credit to Gardenhire and his staff.

-In assessing the four series, here’s who I like:

A.Cubs vs Dodgers- LA matches up well despite getting in via the most pathetic division. Their potent lineup has vastly improved since Manny Ramirez came over strengthening teammates James Loney, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. The key will be for Cubs pitchers to keep the guys in front of Manny off base so he can’t do much damage. Lou Piniella won’t let him beat them. So, it will be up to Manny’s teammates to come through.

The Cubs have a balanced attack with Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Mark DeRosa and certain NL ROY Geovany Soto. The pitching is about even with the red hot Derek Lowe taking on Ryan Dempster, who went 14-3 at Wrigley Field this year. Chad Billingsley faces Carlos Zambrano in Game 2 with Rich Harden battling Hiroki Kuroda in Game 3 and Greg Maddux getting the ball against Ted Lilly for Game 4. If it goes five, Lowe and Dempster would face off again.

The pens are about even with Chicago using the trio of rookie Jeff Samardzjia, setup man Carlos Marmol and closer Kerry Wood to shut the door. Rookie Cory Wade sets up while either Jonathan Broxton or Takashi Saito closes depending on Joe Torre.

The Cubs should have an edge in experience which could be huge at the plate if some of the younger Dodgers aren’t patient. This shapes up to be a good series but there’s too much at stake for the Cubs here.

Series Prediction: Cubs in 5

B.Phillies vs Brewers- Last year, the Phillies had a remarkable run to their first division title in 14 years stunning the Mets. The euphoria from that comeback was too much as the Rockies swept them. This October should be different because of last year’s experience. The goal wasn’t just to get there again but to win. This time, the Brewers are playing that role after winning five of six to slip past the Mets for the wild card clinching their first playoff berth since 1982 when they were in the AL East.

With C.C. Sabathia unable to pitch until tomorrow, that should be an edge for the Phils who even seem to have an advantage in starters with ace Cole Hamels dominating today’s first game fanning nine in eight innings. Not surprisingly in just his fourth outing this season, Yovani Gallardo struggled allowing a three-run third with Chase Utley’s two-run double and Shane Victorino’s bases loaded walk the difference. With Ben Sheets out for this round, the pressure falls on Sabathia who again will go on short rest against Brett Myers tomorrow. Jamie Moyer faces Jeff Suppan in Game 3 and Hamels returns for Game 4 against Dave Bush. If it goes five, it would be Myers against Sabathia with all bets off.

It’s hard not to like the Phils in this series due to a lethal attack of Utley, possible NL MVP Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, Jimmy Rollins along with underrated contributors Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino. They should hit. Taking nothing away from Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart but this just isn’t their time.

Philly’s pen is also stronger with Scott Eyre and J.C. Romero setting up closer Brad Lidge, who took NL Comeback Player of The Year by going 41-of-41 in save opportunities. It’ll still be interesting to see how the ex-Astro fares in October with memories of Albert Pujols taking him yard. He didn’t look great today giving up a run while putting the tying runs in scoring position before K-ing Hart to save it for Hamels. The Brewers rely on Guillermo Mota to setup closer Salomon Torres who was very shaky in September. It might be wise to use Todd Coffey and Mark DiFelice more. Starter Manny Parra also is available.

All signs point to the Phillies. They have a better offense, more pitching, a solid bench and valuable experience.

Series Prediction: Phillies in 4

C.Angels vs Red Sox- This is the hardest match-up to call as it pits the experienced defending champion Red Sox against baseball’s best team during the regular season, the Angels who hit the century mark in wins.

For Mike Scioscia’s club, the pressure is on to get the monkey off their back versus a team that’s historically owned them in October. Dating back to 1986 when they rallied from 3-1 down to advance to the World Series, Boston’s won nine straight postseason games against the Halos. Something’s gotta give.

Their lineup is improved with first base slugger Mark Teixeira added to a middle of the order featuring vets Torii Hunter and Vlad Guerrero trying to get in table setters Chone Figgins and Garret Anderson. They better hit because even post-Manny, a Red Sox lineup that includes MVP candidates Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis along with always dangerous slugger David Ortiz will. They also got good news as J.D. Drew pronounced himself ready to go if needed for tonight’s first game. Mike Lowell probably should be back too. Toss in deadline pickup Jason Bay and speedy rookie center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and Boston’s loaded.

The pitching match-ups are intriguing with John Lackey facing Jon Lester tonight, Dice-K versus Ervin Santana Friday and Joe Saunders taking on Josh Beckett in Game Three. Lackey and Lester will also go in Game 4 and ditto for Daisuke Matsuzaka and Santana if it goes the distance. Both teams possess good starters but I’ll give a slight edge to the Red Sox trio.

The Angels will have an edge in the pen with Scot Shields setting up record setting closer Francisco Rodriguez (62 saves). Rookie Jose Arredondo and Darren Oliver also are frequent contributors. Terry Francona will rely heavily on the duo of Hideki Okajima and closer Jonathan Papelbon, who was up and down in the final month due to coming in a few games in the eighth. He might be gassed. Manny Delcarmen and Javier Lopez should also be called upon out of the pen along with promising rookie Justin Masterson.

This series could depend on if the Angels hit. They never have had much success against Boston. Either way, it shapes up as a five-game series.

Series Prediction: Red Sox in 5

D.Rays vs White Sox- You have the new kids on the block against a very experienced bunch who have been here before. If the AL East winning Rays aren’t fazed by their first ever October, they should have enough to get through the White Sox.

Joe Maddon’s scrappy bunch pitch better and find ways to win games despite only two consistent power threats in certain AL ROY Evan Longoria and 101 RBI man Carlos Pena. The good news is that Carl Crawford is back which should give the lineup a boost. Speedy center fielder B.J. Upton (67 SB) and backstop Dioner Navarro also are part of the mix. Veterans Cliff Floyd and Eric Hinske provide leadership. Hinske usually comes off the bench as does utility specialist Willy Aybar.

The White Sox will have a huge power advantage with veterans Ken Griffey, Jr., Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Nick Swisher all threats to go deep. Toss in talented rookie second baseman Alexei Ramirez (21 HR, 77 RBI, 13 SB) and Ozzie Guillen’s club has plenty of offense. A.J. Pierzynski might be universally hated but can get the job done. Just imagine if they had first base slugger Carlos Quentin.

The question is are the White Sox too reliant on the home run? The Rays boast a good pitching staff with 14-game winner James Shields matching up against Javier Vazquez in Games 1 and 5. Scott Kazmir goes against Mark Buehrle in a battle of southpaws for Game 2. Game 3 pits Matt Garza against Gavin Floyd in what promises to be a good match-up between young hurlers. Andy Sonnanstine gets the ball in Game 4 versus White Sox hero John Danks.

The White Sox pen is basically Octavio Dotel handing off to closer Bobby Jenks. Matt Thornton and Scott Linebrink also contribute. Tampa has a distinct edge with the trio of Grant Balfour, J.P. Howell and veteran sidearmer Chad Bradford setting up for veteran closer Troy Percival. There’s also Dan Wheeler who saved 13 while Percival was out. Plus lefty Trever Miller. If a starter gets into trouble, Maddon can also bring in former 2007 first overall pick David Price, who was very sharp after being recalled posting a 1.93 ERA fanning 12 in 14 innings with opponents hitting just .176.

If a game is tight late, you have to like the Rays.

Series Prediction: Rays in 4

Here are the rest of my October picks:

ALCS: Red Sox over Rays in 6

NLCS: Cubs over Phillies in 5

World Series: Cubs over Red Sox in 7

WS MVP: Aramis Ramirez, Cubs

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More HB: The Day After

-And so, the New York baseball season is over and it really does feel weird that both the Mets and Yankees won’t be playing meaningful baseball as October gets ready to hit. I just can’t remember what this felt like. Sure. The two teams both finished with identical records winning 89 games which meant they didn’t stink by any stretch but when you have the kind of payrolls they do, so many expectations come with it for this spoiled city which makes it all the more disappointing.

In the end, both teams despite big names proved to be flawed which was why they fell short in their postseason bids. Injuries aside, the Yankees didn’t have enough pitching or timely hitting. For some reason, they never hit the way they could’ve and too often couldn’t deliver in the clutch. That along with being a very streaky team which sometimes lacked energy kept them from putting together that run with their best ball coming way too late when the season was already lost.

The Mets also had their share of injuries but severely underperformed the first 10 weeks getting Willie Randolph axed before waking up under Jerry Manuel to get back in the race. Despite no pen to speak of, they persevered and once again were in great position to win their division before it all came crashing down in the final couple of weeks though not as badly as last year. While the pen could never be trusted and cost them a ton of games, what was most baffling was the offense which at times disappeared. How do you explain getting shutout 1-0 against the majors’ worst team the Nats? And what about scoring only five runs in the do or die weekend series against the same Marlins who danced on their field eliminating them last year? Questions will continue to linger about David Wright and Jose Reyes until they stop disappearing and carry this team back to October and beyond.

Now, it will be a long offseason for Omar Minaya with plenty of angry customers wondering why next year will be different at Citi Field. Getting a real second baseman while unloading Luis Castillo along with revamping the bullpen are just a couple of topics he must address with new record closer Francisco Rodriguez at the top of the list. It’s also likely Pedro Martinez pitched his final game as a Met after struggling mightily. And then there’s Oliver Perez, who will be seeking a deal in the neighborhood of $12-16 million per year under greedy agent Scott Boras$. Is he really worth that kind of money longterm? I say no. He’s just too unpredictable to get to that next level. What about Carlos Delgado? Do they pick up the $12 million option rewarding him for his brilliant second half or do they try to get younger going for better defense? If they let him go, it won’t be easy to replace his big bat.

As for the Yankees, they will need to decide on center field moving forward along with what they intend to do with Joba Chamberlain. If they make him a starter, then they must continue to shore up their pen. Bringing back 20-game winner Mike Mussina should be at the top of Brian Cashman’s list. Figure Andy Pettite to either retire or go elsewhere following a dismal second half. The Yanks of course need a real ace and should be in the running for C.C. Sabathia, John Lackey or A.J. Burnett with him expected to opt out of Toronto. There’s also the first base situation where they could be competing with the Angels and Mets for Mark Teixeira. Figure Jason Giambi to go elsewhere after a productive season proving he can still be a valuable DH somewhere. As for Bobby Abreu, he’s a solid run producer who gets on base but leaves something to be desired for in right which is why we see Xavier Nady shifting.

Whatever transpires over the next three months, New York baseball fans know full well their rosters won’t look the same following a quiet October.

Get ready for chaos.

-Just in case we forgot, there’s still one more regular season game to be played later today when the Twins visit the Windy City against the White Sox, who earned the one-game home playoff by getting a grand slam from overlooked rookie second baseman Alexei Ramirez in an 8-2 win over the Tigers in a makeup game Monday. They get the game despite winning their first in six thanks to the Twins dropping two of three to the Royals despite sweeping three from Ozzie Guillen’s club to pull half a game up. It’ll be John Danks going on three days rest against Nick Blackburn to decide the AL Central for the final playoff berth.

One team will advance to play the Tampa Bay Rays in the Division Series while Boston travels to California to meet the 100-win Angels.

The NL of course is all set with the Cubs taking on the Dodgers while the Phillies host the Brewers, who are in their first postseason in 26 years.

We’ll have more playoff stuff later on.

-It’s hard to choose one between each but our pick for NL MVP would be Ryan Howard for how he carried the Phillies the final month having one of the best Septembers eerily similar to when he clubbed 58 home runs and knocking in 149 to win the award two years ago. I’ve always been a huge fan of Manny Ramirez and he sure stepped up carrying the Dodgers in the final two months impacting their lineup while coming back to win the NL West. But it’s hard to pick him over Howard with how well the first base slugger finished leading his team to a 13-3 record over the final 16 pressure packed games in a very tight race.

-The same could be said for the NL Cy Young where worthy candidates like Johan Santana, Brandon Webb and Tim Lincecum all are in the running against Milwaukee rental Sabathia, who tossed a remarkable seven complete games pacing the league while turning in a money performance following Santana’s gem to get the Brewers in. For that, we’ll give the nod to Sabathia over Lincecum with Santana third and Webb fourth.

-AL MVP is a little easier and could depend on if the Twins win with Justin Morneau once again in the running against Boston tandem Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis. It’s hard to ignore Carlos Quentin’s impact with the White Sox, who haven’t been the same since he went down. To be honest, he would’ve been a lock had he not broken his wrist. If the Twins get in, Morneau should win his second MVP in three years this time edging another do everything infielder Pedroia, who resembles a young Derek Jeter. If not, give the award to Pedroia because he’s been his team’s best player since the Manny trade.

-As for AL Cy Young, Cliff Lee should get the nod handily edging out K-Rod, Dice-K and Roy Halladay. I know he won’t get a lot of consideration but Moose deserves a few votes for how well he pitched in the Bronx this year.

-What else can Joe Girardi be two-faced about and purposely hide from the media?

-It’s nice to see Brett Favre finally be allowed to open it up and get on the same page with Laveranues Coles, who caught three touchdowns for the first time in his career- half of Favre’s career high six in the Jets’ 56-35 win over Kurt Warner and the Cards. I just wonder if Gang Green fans can be pleased about their D turning a 34-0 halftime cushion into a game by allowing three straight TDs in the third quarter before Favre and the Jet offense put it away.

-Did anyone ever think the Bills and Titans would both be the only remaining unbeatens in the AFC looking like playoff locks?

-How come Terrell Owens always blames Dallas defeats on not getting him involved enough when it was about as believable as anything Sarah Palin says? Can’t he ever give credit to the opponent because the Redskins played a heck of a game and have certainly turned things around since the NFL Opener defeat to the Giants? But hey. T-Ho will always be a selfserving primadona who doesn’t care about the team concept despite his talent which is why I’d never take him on my team.

-I could do a better job than Scott Linehan did with the Rams.

-It sure took long enough for the Lions to realize Matt Millen wasn’t a good Team President. I wonder what keyed them in on that.

-When someone takes shots at the Yanks and Mets for not qualifying, just remember you could be the Tigers who gave up the world for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, who now looks like a serious rebuilding project. Tell ya one thing. Cameron Maybin sure looks good in center for the Marlins. And if Andrew Miller pans out, that’s gonna be one heck of a rotation in 2009. The Mets and Phillies might have some competition for the NL East.

-Just how ridiculous is Jim Dolan? Idiotic enough to continue bringing back Allan Houston while refusing to payoff Stephon Marbury to get him off the Knicks roster. That’s why no matter who’s running it, they’ll always be the same laughingstock.

-Now would be a good time to tell the Rangers that the NHL regular season begins in a few days over in Europe cause they have looked really bad so far. I wonder what Glen Sather thinks now of investing six years and six and a half per on Wade Redden. Just wait till the season starts up. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

-What I like about the Giant organization is they stick to their rules disciplining Plaxico Burress for missing two straight days of practice even if it was due to a personal family matter. The wideout still should’ve communicated better this way he wouldn’t be fined and have to sit out next week’s home game versus Seattle. However, there aren’t any excuses and no exceptions under Coach Coughlin which is why I believe this team can repeat. They get it!

-Someone might want to tell Jerry Jones that this isn’t the 50′s anymore when he last played organized football. He doesn’t belong on the sideline.

-Boomer and Carton are a fun listen on WFAN in the morning because they work well and have solid chemistry. Listening to them rant over the Mets’ latest disappointment was good radio. Loved Carton’s nickname for Wright for failing to deliver in the clutch: “D-Rod.” A reference to Alex Rodriguez.

-I feel bad for diehard Met fans like Steve Somers, Tony Paige, Evan Roberts and Joe Benigno, who live and die with their team all year long. You can feel the emotion and terrible bitterness in their voices. Particularly Somers, who last week coming back from a great Weezer concert sounded heartbroken over a costly extra inning defeat to the Cubs. You could really tell how badly he wanted to see them get in and reverse last year.

They all did and showed so much. Maybe if the Mets had played with as much energy as they brought to the WFAN airwaves, they wouldn’t be sitting home instead getting ready for Lou Piniella’s Cubs. They might get paid to talk sports but they wear the Mets’ logo as a badge of honor as did outstanding play-by-play man Howie Rose.

Nobody ever likes to get their hearts broken. Especially by their favorite sports team which is what can make following sports so crazy. One minute, you’re as high as the sky and the next you feel like burying yourself under the sand.

It’s the real diehards who never abandon ship who shall always get my sorrows. Cause it takes a lot sometimes to stay with a team that constantly gives you heartache.

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Random Thought

Before I leave:

-Why in God’s name did Joe Girardi take out Dan Giese on just 83 pitches after six innings?!?!?!?!?!?! The Angels were held to one run and trailing 3-1 but then the clueless Yankee skipper pulled him in favor of Jose Veras, who promptly gave it up allowing Garrett Anderson and Mike Napoli to go deep tying the game. Unbelievable!

-Aside from that, the unclutchness of Alex Rodriguez rared its ugly head again. With a chance to maybe put the game out of reach with runners on at the corners, the third baseman predictably struck out chasing a high heater out of the zone.

Just another moment where the so-called best player in the game came up short. Oh well.

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More HB

-Listening to WFAN’s Tony Paige in his monologue of one of the worst Met losses and the overnight host is absolutely dead on about Johan Santana not being left in to start the ninth inning against the division rival Phillies. The Mets led 5-1 at one point until the former Twins’ AL Cy winner gave up a solo shot to Philly center fielder Shane Victorino in the seventh. Still, the Met ace on this night pitched like one getting through the eighth with a three-run lead intact. In fact, he had thrown just 105 pitches. You had to figure he had something left to maybe even finish what was the biggest game of the season at a packed Shea with first place up for grabs. Instead, on a night when he didn’t have Billy Wagner available (shoulder tightness), Jerry Manuel opted to pinch hit for Santana. Instead, he turned it over to Duaner Sanchez.

Paige took note of the intro of the AP game recap. One which is worth repeating:

When Jimmy Rollins saw New York reliever Duaner Sanchez come out to pitch the ninth inning instead of starter Johan Santana or closer Billy Wagner, he went straight to the batting tee to stay loose.

It didn’t matter that he was due up sixth and the Philadelphia Phillies trailed by three runs. He thought they had a chance.

The ever optimistic NL MVP was right.

You’d think by now some managers would learn. Especially when Wagner wasn’t around to close it out which meant Manuel was banking on Sanchez to come through in a different role. Instead, the setup man failed miserably giving up three straight base hits loading the bases forcing the interim skipper to pull him for second-year reliever Joe Smith. Smith closed games for the Single-A Cyclones a couple of years ago. Truthfully, it wasn’t his fault that Jose Reyes on a grounder missed the second base bag allowing a run to score and everyone to be safe. Still, he was out of the game replaced by lefty Pedro Feliciano. He’s been a fixture in seventh and eighth situations usually against lefties. Don’t believe me? Check the splits entering last night:

vs left .222

vs right .324

Not surprisingly, pinch hitter So Taguchi made Mets’ fans worst fears realized by delivering a tying two-run double to right over Endy Chavez. Then everyone’s fave Jimmy Rollins followed suit with a two-run go-ahead double. A couple batters later, the Phillie shortstop would come into score a sixth run on Ryan Howard’s RBI fielder’s choice.

By the time the Mets’ hottest reliever Aaron Heilman got into the ninth recording the final out, the damage was done. I have to question Manuel on why he didn’t put in Heilman after Sanchez got into trouble. He had been pitching very well and probably would’ve been the best choice.

Still, in this Relief Era Error ruled where pitch counts prevent most starters from finishing what they started unless your name’s Roy Halladay (real best pitcher in the game), you have to ask why Santana wasn’t out there to at least start that fateful ninth? It’s ridiculous. The guy tossed eight allowing two earned on eight hits walking none and fanning four. Without Billy The Kid, he has to be out there.

Instead, the Amazin’s suffered a crushing home defeat failing to move a game up in the standings. Instead, combined with a Marlins’ 4-0 blanking of Atlanta in which four pitchers combined to one-hit the former NL East front runners and ex-Met Mike Jacobs slugged a three-run homer, the Mets find themselves tied for second a game behind those Phils.

Does such a devastating loss set the tone for the next two days in Queens? Will this get the struggling Phillies going. They were 12-18 in their last 30 blowing a seven and a half game lead as the Mets turned around their season following the Willie Randolph firing.

The Mets should still have the edge in tonight’s game with John Maine facing recently recalled one-time Phillie closer Brett Myers following a minor league stint. A win would cure what happened and make fans forget. The middle game of this series now becomes crucial. We’ll see what they’re made of.

-Is it any wonder that Phillie big pickup Joe Blanton struggled serving up a pair of two-run dingers to Carlos Delgado and Ramon Castro? At least he went six and tossed four more pitches than Santana.

-Over in the Bronx, the Yankees continued their sizzling play improving to 5-0 since the break with an 8-2 win over the Twins. Darrell Rasner gave them a boost pitching into the sixth on what should have been just one run allowed due to first base umpire Mike Dimuro’s bad call ruling that Jason Kubel was safe on a potential inning ending double play in which Jason Giambi showed great athleticism to start it. Instead, the Twins took a 2-1 lead before eventual rookie winner David Robertson got the final out.

The Yanks have been swinging hotter bats lately and finally, they got going in the bottom half against Kevin Slowey. With Johnny Damon on first distracting the Minny starter enough, he grooved an inside heater to Bobby Abreu, who deposited it into the short porch for a 3-2 Yankee lead. Alex Rodriguez followed with a single for his second hit of the night to keep it going and then swiped second. After Jason Giambi was walked, resurgent second baseman Robinson Cano continued his hot hitting delivering a run scoring single to center putting them up a pair.

The following inning, the Bronx Bombers put the game out of reach batting around for four more highlighted by a two-run double from team captain Derek Jeter making it 6-2. An Abreu double and Giambi single increased the margin to six.

Relievers Jose Veras (1 IP, K) Kyle Farnsworth (1 IP, BB, 3 K’s) and Dan Giese (1 IP, H, K) finished off the final three frames pulling the Yanks to a season high 10 games over (55-45). With first place Tampa Bay falling to Oakland 8-1, they’re now just three and a half out. Meanwhile, Boston got a solid outing from Dice K, who pitched into the eighth permitting just a couple of runs while walking two and fanning six in a 4-2 road win over the Mariners to pull within half a game of first. They still lead the Yanks by three for the wild card.

-With his major league-leading 41st save, Angels’ closer Francisco Rodriguez is just 16 saves short of the major league record established by former White Sox closer Bobby Thigpen, who had 57 saves in 1990. With 62 games remaining, it’s a pretty good bet that the potential 2008 free agent will set a new record.

-With their fifth win in six, the Rockies remained seven behind NL West leader Arizona, who beat the NL-leading Cubs a second straight time to go a game up on the Dodgers. Ironically, that’s who Colorado beat getting homers from Brad Hawpe and Ian Stewart in a 10-1 rout bouncing back from a 16-10 defeat. They’re still 14 below .500 (44-58) but if they hang around in that weak division and play their cards right, I still believe they got a shot to comeback and win it.

-Did you ever think you’d see the day that WNBA players would be fighting and getting tossed out of games with suspensions coming? That’s precisely what occurred during a game between the Shock and Sparks in Auburn Hills much like that infamous brawl between the Pacers and Pistons a few years back.

With 4.6 seconds left in a game Los Angeles won 84-81, Sparks’ rookie Candace Parker got tangled up with the Shock’s Pienette Pierson, who then ran into her touching off the fireworks. Parker, who paced her team with 21 responded by throwing a punch before Deanna Nolan took her down as coaches and players left the bench highlighted by Detroit assistant Rick Mahorn knocking down former WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie, who tried to play peacemaker.

Ironically, the former Bad Boy was also involved in the 2004 brawl as a Pistons’ broadcaster trying to prevent Ron Artest from going into the stands. LA coach Michael Cooper thought he was trying to keep the peace but was “too big.”

Though this was far from as ugly as that NBA incident, it was disturbing to say the least. The three officials should have gotten better control preventing it to escalate following a hard foul from Detroit’s Cheryl Ford on Parker. This was definitely disappointing and suspensions and fines will be certain to follow.

-Finally, why must ESPN deliberately put a FAVRE portion on their bottom line ticker as if it were a scoreboard? Talk about insanity. I’m as tired as most of the whole Brett Favre escapade. That the people in Bristol would go this far tells you all you need to know about how out of touch they really are.

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