The Opening Pitch: The Mets are choking it away again.
As bad as last September was for Mets fans, at least it was a virtually unprecedented collapse — a once-in-a-generation free-fall.
This September, the Mets know exactly the kind of precarious position they are in, yet seem unable to do anything about it.
The latest twist (in the backs of their fans): Another loss to the Cubs — in 10 innings, with plenty of chances to have won the thing.
Meanwhile, the Brewers — who have been nearly as hapless as the Mets down the stretch — found a way to win, tying the N.L. Wild Card race. (I know the "way": CC on short rest! Pitch him every day!)
I'm not quite sure which team "deserves" the postseason spot more. Ideally, they finish tied after 162 and play it off for the playoffs.
(The natural pace to this dramatic ending of the season may be thrown off by bad weather in New York.) Meanwhile, in the A.L. Central, the Twins took their second straight from the White Sox, closing the gap in the division to a half-game.
They play again tonight: If the Twins win, they are suddenly in first place heading into the final weekend; if they lose, they will still need the White Sox to choke it away in the weekend finale.
NFL: Matt Millen is finally fired, and the operative word is “finally.” That took WAY too long — to the point that even non-Lions fans wanted him ousted. (I wonder if Bill Ford Jr. is asking himself if he had said something three seasons ago, could this have ended seasons ago?)
Thus ends the career of arguably the worst front-office executive in the modern history of the NFL. Undoubtedly, Millen will land an incredibly cushy job analyzing games from the TV booth — where he was actually pretty good. It's hard to remember now, but he was.
Plaxico Burress suspended 12 days (which includes 1 game) for an unexcused absence: What an odd suspension length. But credit the defending champs from brooking no crap from their WR, even as they battle to repeat.
Brett Favre on gimpy ankle: Let's hope Eric Mangini takes a more clear-eyed view of his team than the Favre-freaks and won't hesitate to bench Favre if his injured ankle doesn't give the Jets the best chance to win. (Yes, even if it means breaking Favre's consecutive-games-started streak.)
More: How bad must Brady Quinn be if the Browns are sticking with Derek Anderson? I know Anderson is making a ton of money, but presumably the Browns are playing to win — and it seems they think Quinn can't help with that.
This is horribly distressing. The most heartfelt condolences to Matt Bryant and his family.
Must-Read: Mike Florio on Brett Favre and the Jets' paltry R.O.I. on their offseason moves.
Blog Roll: The 700 Level talks with Donovan McNabb.
CFB Tonight: USC at Oregon State. Please don't let USC fool you with their talking-up of the Beavers. The Trojans are just trying to get you to forget they are playing a puffy conference schedule.
CFB: The weekend's headliner? Alabama-Georgia , which will be the best measure yet of each other's strength this season. (Oh, and then there's the little matter of Georgia's "Black-Out" — and Bama's response.)
Meanwhile, the second-biggest GOTW is Illinois-Penn State; the Nittany Lions fans are planning for their traditional "White-Out." (If "Black-Outs" are for funerals, what are "White-Outs" for?)
BlogPoll Top 25: I was not the only one to rank LSU at No. 1. (Now, there were only two of us, but let's not dwell on details.)
Shoes: Michael Beasley will wear adidas, joining players like KG, Gilbert Arenas, T-Mac, Billups and Dwight Howard. It takes six?
Pop Culture: I have no problem admitting I am obsessed with the toddler-TV show "Yo Gabba Gabba" (and, yes, I have a toddler who watches, but he is almost beside the point).
My fandom of "YGG" and my fandom of sports came together yesterday when Amare Stoudemire made an appearance during a segment called "Dancey Dance Time." Here's the clip. (h/t: Awful Announcing)
NBA: It turns out Monta Ellis was injured in a "low-speed" moped accident.
The Last Word: It's hard to take Hank Steinbrenner seriously when he fairly criticizes MLB's division set-up and he talks about MLB revenue sharing as being un-American. His customers — the American taxpayers — are about to spend $700 billion of their own money to bail out the corporate equivalent of the Yankees.
To his point about giving playoff spots to the top four teams in each league: If he doesn't like the division system, then why not push to scramble the divisions — say, based on payroll — after every season?
I won't hold my breath.
Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com.
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