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Kudos to Mike Wilner, who has arranged for an All-Star guest on the "Blue Jay A Day Pre-Pre-Game Show" this evening on The FAN 590. Vernon Wells will be joining Mike right after the 7:00 update, and will be answering listener questions until about 7:35. You can listen live on the Internet feed; the phone numbers are 416-870-0590 in the GTA and 1-888-666-0590 everywhere else. I'm hoping to get through to ask Vernon how he and the rest of the Jays would prepare for a pitcher they hadn't seen before, like Josh Beckett.

There will be at least one more BJADPPGS on Saturday, but Roy Halladay will not be available as a guest. Doc is enjoying some well-deserved R & R on a cruise ship in parts unknown. Never fear, Wilner will come up with someone interesting.
"My final start -- this is it," said Roger Clemens last night. In today's Boston Herald, Tony Massarotti offers a New England perspective on the historic event.

"My emotions will be happy and sad -- happy that I know it's over and I'm healthy," Clemens said. "I pretty much touched on every aspect of the game that I could. I did it right. I put the time in to be successful at this level, (but) I'll be sad because it's my last game and to go out there and compete, I won't have that (anymore). I won't be able to do that."

Not everyone is convinced that this is the Rocket's swan song. In a recent Toronto Star column, Richard Griffin insists that after he pitches in the 2004 Olympics, Roger will become an Astro. Rich wants everyone to clip and save that prediction, but I'd just lose it, so I'm making a note of it right here.

In the New York Daily News, Anthony McCarron makes Clemens' retirement sound like a definite maybe. I never liked the guy, even when he was a methodical and efficient pitching machine for the Blue Jays, but I've always been in awe of his talent. If he gets another ring, then wraps himself in the flag and a gold medal next summer, I think he'll consider that a fitting conclusion to his legend.
No one really knows if The Sporting News is to the BBWAA as the Golden Globes are to the Oscars, precursors of things to come. But if they are, then Roy Halladay had better start making room on his trophy shelf, because he's been named TSN's AL Pitcher of the Year.

I'm of two minds about Roy possibly winning the Cy. On the one hand, of course you want the ace of your favourite team to have his excellence recognized and rewarded across North America. On the other, though, there's two considerations: (1) a Cy Young Award could drive up Halladay's long-term contract price even higher than it already figures to be, and (2) for the same reason I didn't want Roy to get that no-hitter against Detroit back in 1999: when you start your career on that kind of high, where is there to go but down? Maybe it's superstition, but I almost prefer that the dreaded E.L. take home the award: let him suffer the Cy Curse. But I can't really root against Doc in my heart.
So said Dave Van Horne, longtime voice for the Montreal Expos, on his many CBC-TV broadcasts with Duke Snider, and he was so right. Dave stuck with the Expos through almost 30 years of ups and downs, from Coco Laboy to Warren Cromartie to Marquis Grissom to Jose Vidro, before following all those Canadian snowbirds to Florida and taking a job with the Marlins. As a result, he finally has something the Expos could never give him: a World Series gig. If you're looking for someone to cheer for in this World Series, root for the Man with the Golden Dome to finally share in a championship.
A desperate Marlins team -- that's when they've been at their best -- takes on a legend, as Roger Clemens makes his final big league start.
Thanks to Mike Moffatt for catching this article about how Mexico City is looking to poach the Blue Jays from Toronto. Mayor Obrador may simply have mixed up Montreal and Toronto when talking about ballclubs for sale -- I wouldn't know Monterrey from Merida myself, so I'll not cast the first stone. But it's an interesting thought. Try to imagine what Carlos Delgado's final stats would be like if he played 81 games at a higher and warmer place than Coors Field.

More seriously, if Mexico could get its political, and to a lesser extent economic, problems straightened out, I'd be very interested in seeing a lower-elevation Mexican city get a crack at a major-league team. But Puerto Rico might be first in line, and I think Mexicans are mad primarily for fútbol rather than béisbol. And the currency problems in either jurisdiction could make Canadian teams look Steinbrennerian by comparison. But everything else being equal, I will be very happy the day baseball expands into Latin America.
Major-league baseball has had the misfortune (self-imposed and otherwise) to suffer eruptions of bad publicity during or immediately after the World Series. This year appears to be no exception, as the likely NL MVP and the starting first baseman for the AL pennant winners have both been subpoenaed to appear before a US grand jury. The investigation in question relates to a California company called Balco Laboratories and a product it makes called tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), an apparently "invisible steroid" that the US Anti-Doping Agency didn't even know existed until a syringeful of it showed up at their headquarters. The rumblings are that by the time this thing is over, it's going to make the Ben Johnson scandal and the Dubin Inquiry look like a day at the beach.
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From the e-mail newsletter, sent to me by pals who are middle-managers there and still praise the day John Hart left town:

Despite a very good rookie season, Jody Gerut didn't think he would be earning any postseason awards. He figured those accolades would go to a certain left fielder in the Bronx. But The Sporting News awarded its 2003 American League Rookie of the Year to the Tribe's rookie outfielder. Read the whole dang surprising story.

The Tribe had two back-to-back winners in '70-'71 (somebody named Roy Foster, then Chris Chambliss) then have had approximately one per decade with Joltin' Joe Charboneau (1980), Sandy Alomar Jr. (1990) and Gerut.

Good for TSN. I personally would have thought long and hard about Berroa and Teixeira (but not Baldelli and certainly not the likely "real" winner, Matsui) ... but Gerut is a good, solid choice.
In a postseason of incredible excitement, this World Series looked like an anti-climax from the beginning. Many avid baseball fans simply don't care who wins. Craig's "a pox on both your houses" sentiment about the ALCS could easily apply to teams owned by the misunderstood Steinbrenner and the detestable Loria.

In Game 1, a lethargic Yankees lineup, no doubt emotionally drained by the awesome Boston series, couldn't solve Brad Penny or Ugueth Urbina, neither of whom had their best stuff, and Juan Pierre's wheels made the difference. Game 2 featured more typical Bronx Bombing and a superb start by Andy Pettitte, so it was too one-sided to be really intense. I'm expecting more passion on both sides this evening, but I won't be able to comment much (if at all) on the game thread. So here are a few thoughts in advance...
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By general custom, baseball executives don't make roster moves until after the World Series is over, as they don't want to draw attention away from baseball's "showcase". (Note the quotation marks: for me, and for many people I know, the season is already over.) However, we at Da Box are not bound by such limitations. So here's my idea: let's suppose that you have been put in charge of the Blue Jays. What moves would you make? Assume a budget roughly similar to this year's.
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Florida Marlins (Mark Redman) at New York Yankees (Andy Pettitte)

Pettitte is going on 3-days' rest, but Torre doesn't really have any other choice.

Torre's decision to go with 3 lefthanders out of the bullpen is very curious - Juan Pierre is the only lefty in the starting lineup (Castillo is a switch-hitter) and McKeon only pinch-hits for his pitchers. Because Jeff Weaver isn't trusted, the Yankees will be going with a 3-man bullpen (Nelson, Contreras and Rivera) plus some sporadic duty for the lefthanders. I'd rather have Almonte available as a pinch-runner and go with 2 lefties in the pen.

Torre's batting order choices have been commented on. Soriano has always been unsuited to the leadoff role and batting Giambi 7th basically amounts to taking a PA away from him every 3 games.

Florida's bullpen is going to be a bit dicey. Willis and Urbina worked hard in Game 1 and McKeon doesn't have as much confidence in Looper, Tejera and Fox (Helling and Bump are the scrubs). One or more of those three will very likely see action tonight.
Yes, folks, this is the last of the 2003 minor league reports, and we ain't exactly going out on a high note. Out of Syracuse's 141 games, 55 were started by waiver claims, minor league free agents, and the like (Josh Towers, Doug Linton, Evan Thomas, etc.), 41 by disappointing prospects (Jason Arnold and Mike Smith), 21 by prospects who didn't have a great deal of room to disappoint (Vinnie Chulk), and 7 by guys on rehab assignments (mainly Pete Walker). Corey Thurman started 16 games, and Dave Gassner started one. There wasn't a good relief prospect on the entire staff. Like the batsmen, however, most of these guys are about to get washed away by a flood of JP's pitching prospects (and Gord Ash's). David Bush, Dustin McGowan, and Adam Peterson may start next season with the SkyChiefs, and Jamie Vermilyea could be back in New York State sooner than we think. Cam Reimers, Chris Baker, and Dave Gassner aren't top-notch prospects, but one or two of them should be able to chip in some decent innings.
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Florida Marlins (Brad Penny) at New York Yankees (David Wells)

Both teams used up their best pitchers in thrilling, high-scoring LCS seventh games. There's no inherent advantage to either staff; it's going to be an interesting weekend.

It's possible that David Wells will be off form because he pitched a relief inning Thursday, but the Babe-worshipping Boomer, on the game's biggest stage in the House That Ruth Built, is more likely to rise to the occasion. The corpulent lefty was 8-2 with a 3.40 ERA in the postseason before this year, and allowed a single run in each of his two playoff starts (the clincher against the Twins and a huge win in Fenway) before that homer to David Ortiz the other night. He's not completely unknown to Marlins hitters; Pudge has a fine 10-for-27 mark and .962 OPS, Conine is 9-for-38, but three homers raise his OPS to .828, and Encarnacion is 6-for-22 with an .895 OPS.
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Mike Wilner's guest on The FAN 590 Pre-Pre-Game Show at 7:00 tonight is Keith Law, one of J.P. Ricciardi's special assistants. An expert in statistical analysis, Law is involved in every aspect of talent acquisition via Rule 5, free agency, the amateur draft and trades, and he helps evaluate the performances of every player in the organization. A longtime supporter of Batter's Box, Keith granted us an interview in June, which I hope everyone has read.

Here's your chance to ask him some followup questions, or anything else about the Jays. Of course, some matters are confidential, so don't expect him to divulge any trade secrets. I doubt Keith will answer things like "will Cat be back?" with certainty, nor is he likely to tell you who the Jays turned down in trade offers for Kelvim Escobar. He'll be as candid as possible, and is always interesting to talk to. If you get through (416-870-0590 or 1-888-666-0590) say hello from Da Box.
Thanks to BB reader Richard for alerting me to a fine four-parter in the National Post by Allen Abel. Celebrating the centennial of the World Series, it began last Tuesday with The Age Of Magic, a look at the early days, including the employment of "good luck" mascots in big-league dugouts. Part Two, entitled A World Apart, is my favourite -- a beautifully written account of one pitch, and its impact on a man's life. In the third segment, A Classic Youth, Abel, just old enough to recall Don Larsen's perfect game, explains how important the World Series was to him growing up. The finale, Joy For The Few, features conversations with Luis Gonzalez, who knows the thrill of delivering a Series-winning hit, and other champions.

I'm about three years younger than Abel, who covered the Jays and other sports for the Globe and Mail in the late 1970s and early 1980s. My own baseball obsession began at a similar age, with Bill Mazeroski's homer the first indelible moment. Abel thinks his passion is in his DNA, the way hockey is for most Canadians, but I'm living proof that the baseball gene knows no borders. This series is a wonderful diversion for anyone who can't wait for tonight's first pitch. Enjoy.