Rays in 7. That's the pick for the ALCS in today's SN column. (Quickie jinx, be damned.) Why? Home-field advantage? Perhaps. But how about the fact that the Rays proved in August that they can win at Fenway -- even take 2 of 3.
Obviously, the playoffs are another story -- and I'm already inclined to pick defending champs to repeat (especially in pro sports), let alone the Red Sox, who are the preeminent franchise in baseball (and perhaps all of sports).
But I can't shake the Rays bandwagon -- the Rays' season-long Cinderella story. They may not even win the World Series, but to vanquish the mighty Red Sox would alone be monumental.
Meanwhile, I pick the Dodgers in 7, although I have to confess that I flip-flopped a few times before finally settling in on the belief that the Fates are ultimately out to hurt Phillies fans. (It's not SABR-friendly analysis, no, but I presume the SABR community would make exceptions for this.)
Big big news in the NBA: Greg Oden made his debut. Don't expect him to be the next Olajuwon or Ewing. I think his impact will be similar to what happened for him in college: His presence was simply so disruptive that he made the team around him infinitely better. That may or may not show up in the box scores (eventually, perhaps), but you'll see it in the standings.
Meanwhile, longtime Bullets fans will recognize the pattern: Star signs big contract; star gets injured. We'll see what the story is with Antawn Jamison's knee, but at that price, it can't be good. Kornheiser used to call it the "Le Curse of Les Boulez."
*OKSt-Mizzou will be more fun than Oklahoma-Texas.
*Tebow turning pro? Why not: QB who can "Wildcat"
*Elgin Baylor: Nice guy, terrible GM. For like 20 years.
*"Bull Durham" should never get a sequel.
My final version of this week's BlogPoll coming later this morning. (Yes, I nudged USC up, per your comments.) The full group's final BlogPoll will be up later today, too.
Complete SN column here. (Note: No SN column -- or blogging -- from me tomorrow during the day. I'll be observing Yom Kippur.)