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Part 1 of the Mike Wilner Interview
Part 2 of the Mike Wilner Interview

Mike Wilner, one of the voices of the Blue Jays on the cross-Canada Fan Radio Network, was kind enough to sit down with Batter's Box a few short weeks ago to share his insights into the broadcasts and the ballclub.
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Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees, 8 PM ET (Game 1)

I see these two clubs as evenly matched. I don't think level of playoff experience will mean much in this series - many of the Red Sox have plenty of post-season experience. In my mind, the series hinges on the starts made by Pedro Martinez. He's matched up against Roger Clemens, who is vulnerable to teams who walk and have power. On the other hand, Pedro hasn't been all that great against the Yankees in recent years. If Boston can't win both of the Pedro starts, they will probably lose the series.

Game 1's largest variable is Tim Wakefield. He can be great and awful in the same game and often is; Jeter and Soriano will surely attempt some steals if they reach base.

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Florida Marlins at Chicago Cubs, 8 PM ET (Game 2)

No statistics to look at in this preview - I'll be back with a look at the offenses of these clubs in the preview for Game 3

Brad Penny is a finesse pitcher in comparison to most of the other starters we'll see in this series. He is a righthander, which gives him a chance to shut down the Cubs. He'll need to do that to keep his team in the game because opposing him will be the best young pitcher in baseball.

Perhaps it is the memories of his club being blown away by the Yankees oh so many years ago that has propelled one of the great players of our time to another level. There is fire in Ivan Rodriguez' eyes: he's had a huge impact on 3 consecutive playoff games, all of which his team won by 1 run. Can it continue tonight?

Sportsnet have confirmed that they will have Game 2 of the NLCS tonight. For those of you in the Toronto area, FOX 29 Buffalo have told me that they will carry Game 1 of the ALCS. Both games are 8:00 starts. Enjoy!
What the hey? Idly wondering why the afternoon playoff game hadn't started yet, I flipped over to the MLB site to realize that the two LCS games are on tonight, at the same time, on the same network. They couldn't give one game to Fox and the other to ESPN, oh no -- that way, fans could have watched the game they preferred and flipped to the other match now and again. And heaven forfend we have a day game so that each contest could be played by itself -- the almighty advertisers wouldn't like that.

Major-league baseball is too important to be left in the hands of Major League Baseball.
Without further ado, the Batter's Box Salute to the Postseason gets underway with the ten most exciting games in Division Series History.

Other than the extra round of playoffs designed to address the effects of the 1981 labour dispute, the Division Series has only been around since 1995. As such, most Box readers, young and old, can recall most of these games. What follows is one fan's rankings; I open the floor for debate.
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Stephen Tomlinson (can I say the great Stephen Tomlinson?) has released the 2003 edition of his long-running series of "Stat Reports" on his website. Stephen's essays, which cover all of the AL and NL in addition to in-depth analysis of the Jays, are available for all years going back to 1977 and are a great capsule summary of each season.
Part 1 of the Mike Wilner Interview

Most Batter's Box denizens will be familiar with the work of Mike Wilner. Studio host of the Blue Jays radio broadcasts on the FAN radio network, Mike's work goes out across the country before and after every Jays game. He was kind enough to sit down a few weeks ago to answer some questions from Batter's Box. In Part One, we learned about the path to becoming a broadcaster, and a bit about the job. Today, Mike gives us a closer look at this current Blue Jays organization, from the GM to the bullpen coach.
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Florida Marlins at Chicago Cubs, 8 PM ET (Game 1)

Both teams' offences are righthander-heavy. This is an advantage for the Cubbies, since all their starters will be righties, while lefties are scheduled to start Games 3,4 and 7 (unless McKeon starts Carl Pavano) for Florida.

The only lefthanded hitters we'll see on a regular basis are Kenny Lofton (Cubs), Juan Pierre (Marlins), and the switch hitter Luis Castillo (Marlins). Lefthanded hitting Paul Bako might catch Kerry Wood, and Randall Simon will make a few appearances for the Cubs. The rest of the starting lineups will feature righthanded hitters. It will be a tall order for the Fish to score runs in this series.

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As expected, the Bay Area media is having their jollies at the expense of both the As and Giants. Below are some selections.

Columnist Ray Ratto's take.

Beat writer Susan Slusser's piece.

Scott Ostler takes both the A's and Giants to task.

Ratto's column resonates most with me -- anything I could add would merely repeat what Ratto says -- and at any rate I'm too tired and bitter to say much more than "I know you are frustrated last night, but just shut up, Beane." (You'll know what I mean when you read the article, and don't worry: I'll get over this soon and be my usual pleasant self. Er, you know what I mean.) But Ratto also says "Shut up, Billy" far better than I could -- even though Ray is just another frustrated journalist lashing out at Beane, of course.





Very likely it's just Bob Elliott looking for filler copy, but the prospect of Cito Gaston managing the White Sox is an intriguing one. The ChiSox appear ready to collect a bunch of veterans and make a strong push for the division flag next year, and few managers are better suited to a veteran team than Gaston. Nonetheless, I wonder if too much time hasn't passed since Cito held the managerial reins; even in five or six years, a lot has changed in how to manage a winning ballclub. And speaking of ex-Glory Jays, here's a nice if somewhat over-the-top piece on Pat Gillick too.

My thanks to Robert, Dave, Mike and everyone else who've kept BB hopping these past few days while Kent, Craig and I have all been largely incommunicado for one reason or another. We aim to have more new features for you soon; starting on Wednesday, look for a multi-part interview with Blue Jays Scouting Director Jon Lalonde. And next Monday, the 2004 Minor-League Review finally arrives: a week-long series of analyses of each level of the Jays' system. And there's still more in store for the off-season; keep Da Box bookmarked.
Boston at Oakland, 8:00 PM ET (Game 5)

First, let me commend Robert, whose playoff work to date has been terrific, but I thought I would lead the game thread tonight, though I will be too nervous and involved with the game to comment on it while it is in progress. Ill leave the various pre-game machinations and statistical innuendo to ESPN.com and other sites, and instead I will ask one question: Just what is at stake here, as the As tryfor a ninth timeto close out an ALDS? In short, everything.
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Oakland Athletics at Boston Red Sox, 1 PM ET (Game 4)

Tim Hudson starts on 3 days rest - the second pitcher in this year's post-season to do so. Conventional wisdom supposes that a sinkerball pitcher doesn't need a lot of rest between starts, and Hudson threw only 106 pitches on Wednesday.

The Athletics should be celebrating a sweep today, but instead will have to deal with John Burkett. I'm not a big fan of Burkett - he always seemed to me like a pitcher who was reasonably effective only against weaker lineups. Prediction: Oakland 6 Boston 3.

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Chicago Cubs at Atlanta, 7:30 PM ET (Game 5)

Great offence has made a comeback - evening up both this and the Oakland-Boston series. When Kerry Wood can't locate with his off-speed stuff, he tend to have problems. We saw him lose his release point in the 8th inning of Game One. Mike Hampton will have to navigate through a lineup that hits lefthanders very well and he'll be pitching on 3 days' rest. If I were a Braves fan, I'd wish Greg Maddux were starting this game.

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