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What a great hockey game at the ACC last night, huh? Well, now that hockey season's officially over, it's time to turn our attention to the fresh new baseball season ahead of us. The Blue Jays host the Baltimore Orioles tonight, in a contest between two teams with high expectations for 2004. The Blue Jays will start lefty Ted Lilly, acquired in an off-season deal with Oakland for promising outfielder Bobby Kielty: who will get the better of that deal? The Orioles, who start young lefty Matt Riley, signed slugging free agents like Rafael Palmeiro and Javy Lopez this past off-season and intend to be taken seriously in the AL East this year. Could one or both of these teams topple the Yankees or Red Sox? Key acquisitions for the two clubs: Baltimore is counting on recently re-signed Sidney Ponson to anchor their rotation, while the Jays hope veteran relievers like Kerry Ligtenberg and Terry Adams can help the bullpen maintain the many leads sure to be handed to them by Toronto's high-powered offence. If everything breaks right, these two teams could be playing some very meaningful games come September 15th!
Theoretically, there are 6 teams in the NL Wildcard race. What are each team's chances of winning the wildcard? In addressing the question, I'm going to ignore the fact that the Astros and Marlins are currently "hot" - momentum can chage on a dime. What I want to do is estimate, mathematically, the expected win total for each contender at the end of the season, given the schedule they have to play. Here is how the standings look at this moment:
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Who killed that bird out on you window sill?
Are you the reason that he broke his back?
Did I see you laugh about that?
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In today's roundup thread I asked:

    Does anyone know of a list of players that are likely to be arbitration eligible this year? If there isn't one online, perhaps the Batter's Box should make one.

Since I cannot find such a list anywhere I've decided to work on making one. But I need your help.
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Now he's running for the love of speed
When the child goes bad it's no cause for celebration
Like Jimmy Dean he don't talk back to me
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OK, eight, counting the Consolation bracket. Actually 16 ó I don't ever mean to slight the Barfield division, it's just that I don't have access to it. But I hope you know what I mean by the title, anyway. We've reached the Semi-Finals.

Congratulations to Lars of AGF and Brad of the Chatsworth Halos, who each won their Alomar championship quarter-final by a 9-2-1 margin, ending fine campaigns for the Red Mosquitos and Gashouse Gorillas, respectively. Neither matchup was as one-sided as the final score might suggest, with several categories narrowly decided. Spicolís club played well earlier in the week, but couldn't sustain their momentum on the weekend, and Snellville Jones, trailing just 6-5 late Sunday afternoon, helplessly watched SV and ERA slip away during a rare John Smoltz meltdown. The two California-based winners now face Ontario teams that enjoyed first-round byes; it was the only week of the season where Gwyn and I truly couldn't lose. Not so any more; it's "sudden-death" for all of us, as Mebion Glyndwr takes on AGF, while my Toronto Walrus meets Chatsworth.

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There aren't too many easy stops on the Blue Jays' schedule through the end of the season, but this could be one of them: a three-game homestand against a Baltimore team that has lost 5 of its last 7 games and lost 12 in a row last month. Coming off the best outing of his career last week in Anaheim, Justin Miller needs another strong start to win over his skeptics; Bruce Chen, cut by the Jays in spring training, goes for the O's. Guillermo Quiroz and Russ Adams again get the start for Toronto. Weird fact: these two teams have an off-day tomorrow, then finish the series Wednesday and Thursday. Anybody know why?
As reported on the FAN and TSN.ca, Frank Catalanotto was re-signed to a 2 year contract for $2.7 million per year. Will the power Frank showed in 2003 return? What will his role be in 2005? Will he stay healthier as a DH?

Thanks to Rob and Four Seamer for the news.
If, like me, you harbour a healthy skepticism about received wisdom, you should have the Urban Legends Reference Page bookmarked on your browser (www.snopes.com). The URLP regularly takes the air out of any number of Net-powered or widely circulated bits of nonsense, exaggeration, fakery, or just plain legend. In the latter category, the ULRP recently turned its attention to one of the most hallowed pieces of baseball lore: that Lou Gehrig started his Iron Man streak with the Yankees when incumbent first baseman Wally Pipp begged off with a headache.
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Well, after a week off for the 518 gang we're back at it.
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If Bush isn't a favorite today in Texas I don't know when he'll be.

The Jays look to avoid a 3 game sweep in Arlington.
Going to the candidates debate
Laugh about it shout about when you got to choose
Every way you look at it you lose
Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio
a nation turns its lonely eyes to you?
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That's when they say I lost my only friend
Well they said she died easy of a broken heart disease
As I listened through the cemetery trees
I seen the sun comin' up at the funeral at dawn
The long broken arm of human law
Now it always seemed such a waste
She always had a pretty face
I wonder why she hung around this place
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On a warm summer's evenin' on a train bound for nowhere,
I met up with the gambler; we were both too tired to sleep.
So we took turns a starin' out the window at the darkness
'Til boredom overtook us, and he began to speak.
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I'm not the same anymore
Thunder and spark in the Heart of the Dark
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