Two more games. Two must-wins. That's the challenge for the Phillies -- heading back to Philly after last night's win over Tim Lincecum and the Giants. And that's the challenge for the Yankees -- heading back to Arlington with Cliff Lee on the horizon for a possible Game 7.
In last night's NLCS Game 5, Roy Halladay is being framed as less dominant than effectively gritty, playing through a pulled groin in the 2nd inning and allowing base-runners in each of his 6 innings, before turning things over to a lights-out relief corps. SF's Aubrey Huff is the goat; the Phillies' 3-run 3rd -- effectively deciding the game -- pivoted off of Huff's error.
It's pretty obvious what the optimal scenario is here, for MLB and for fans: A win tonight for the Yankees, forcing a Game 7 showdown with Cliff Lee for the AL pennant. A win tomorrow for the Phillies, forcing a Game 7 showdown for the NL pennant.
I'm torn on rooting interest: On the one hand, the schadenfreude -- both for the Yankees and Phillies -- would be tremendous. On the other hand, I think they create the most interesting World Series match-up. Besides: Isn't the Yankee schadenfreude even better if they pull out the ALCS, only to lose in the World Series? (The risk is that they, y'know, win another World Series.)
But on a jam-packed weekend in sports -- a few awesome college football games, Week 7 in the NFL (which is going to draw massive interest no matter WHO is playing) -- MLB takes its spot in the front. (Not alone in the front, mind you. But at least sharing the seat. It's like they are sitting in the bench seat -- the NFL driving, college football riding shotgun, MLB wedged between them.)
CFB: You think Oregon was trying to make a statement to human pollsters? With the computers unimpressed -- and Oklahoma (Mizzou), Auburn (LSU) and even TCU (Air Force) all taking on serious competition -- this was obviously on Chip Kelly's mind.
Weekend Preview: Again, a huge weekend with significant implications on the national-title race. Either Oklahoma or Missouri will get their first loss. Same with Auburn and LSU. TCU has a tough match-up with Air Force (which nearly beat Oklahoma). My upset special (undoubtedly jinxed by the mere suggestion): Northwestern over unbeaten Michigan State.
NFL Week 7: The biggest storyline: How many "dangerous hits?" How many concussions? We know James Harrison isn't retiring, but suddenly the sport has a new focus -- who's getting hurt THIS week? Then again, my intuition is that the media is making a much bigger deal out of this -- snapping out of their own cognitive dissonance -- than fans, who have always been able to separate the game's violence from their interest in a big fantasy week.
My Top Storylines:
*Game of the Week: Favre at Green Bay
*Chargers dropping to 2-5 after playing Pats?
*Either the Rams or Bucs will have 4 wins.
*Eagles-Titans: Backup QB vs. Backup QB?
*Jets' bye week makes everything less sizzly.
NBA Lockout Watch: David Stern wants to cut player salaries? Not quite, but that's where he is anchoring the debate: A roughly 35% cut to salaries. Stern's position: If players help the league grow revenues, they can share in that. But the starting point -- given today's revenues -- needs to be lower. Players are always going to have a tough time winning the p.r. battle that they are underpaid. Then again, owners are going to have a tough time crying poor.
More NBA: Could an injured Mike Miller (now out for weeks) be the difference between a Heat title and Heat failure? (As with Wade -- or LeBron or Bosh -- as long as Miller is healthy for the playoffs, the Heat should be considered the favorite to win the East. Remains a big "if.")
CBB: Duke is No. 1 in the preseason coaches' poll. This shouldn't surprise you, as it shouldn't surprise you that they go wire-to-wire there throughout the regular season. That does NOT mean they will win a back-to-back national championship.
Recruiting: Quincy Miller, who might be the top prospect in the class of 2011, commits to Baylor, a HUGE win for the Bears. Miller will help keep things going when freshman big man Perry Jones declares for the NBA Draft -- as a Top 3 pick -- after a single year of college hoops.
Enjoy your weekend everyone. Look for light posting on both Saturday and Sunday morning.