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Newcastle To Be Put To The Test

There shouldn't be anything to assist Newcastle on Sunday, aside from plenty of rest and the enthusiastic support of home spectators. Sunday's match will be a true test of Newcastle's potential. They will host the Spurs, a side that has arguably has one of the best four midfields in the English Premier League.

Newcastle's new Franco-centric midfield will be the focus as a goal will almost surely be needed from them to support Newcastle's forwards, Demba Ba and Leon Best. Best and Ba have begun to gel and score goals, but in a game like this, I think a goal from a non forward would go a long way towards victory. Could be a long range shot, or a set play. We'll see if I am correct.

Newcastle will not be facing a full strength Tottenham side, as the Spurs will be without their star striker, Emmanuel Adebayor. However, the Spurs are full of weapons against the Magpies, who are slight underdogs.

Newcastle will have the option of using Shola Ameobi and Hatem Ben Arfa as substitutes, since both have recently declared fit. Fatigue should not be an issue for the Toon. 

The game will be broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel in the US and Canada, and might be found at pirate video sites such as AtdheNet.

UPDATE, October 18, 09:48: Emmanuel Adebayor was fit to play for the Spurs after all. Newcastle got a well deserved point after coming from behind twice in Sunday's match.

Newcastle United: Adjustments Needed Now

I am not a football (soccer) wonk, but my football knowledge has grown thanks to the enormous amount of football that is now shown in North America.  With up to five soccer channels available in the US (counting ESPN2 / ESPN3 as one of them), we Americans can watch more football games than most digital TV subscribers in the UK (which is simply wrong, but I'm not complaining!).

Back in 1993, I almost randomly chose to support Newcastle United.  In 2002, I finally got to see them play live on satellite TV.  And today, I see them once or twice a month with my fellow supporters at Nevada Smiths.

In their last two league games, Newcastle have underperformed.  The last game has left fans particularly nervous, as the Mags were lifeless in the first half, which resulted in a late goal before the break.  And they could never quite get back into the game as Blackpool defeated them 2-nil at St. James' Park.

Newcastle Manager Chris Hughton strikes me as a conservative manager.  He doesn't make substitutions until the 70th minute.  He seldom takes all three substitutions.  And he has used the same formation (4-4-1-1) and almost the same exact starting players in the first four matches of the season.  

Well, something needs to change as Newcastle head to Goodison Park to face an Everton squad fighting hard to get their first win of the season.  And this Everton side is hot.  They scored three goals against Manchester United last week to earn just their second point in the table.

Newcastle fans have quickly lost their patience with Kevin Nolan.  The team captain, in just three weeks, has gone from prolific goal scorer to an old player who seldom touches the ball.  

Football is a game of forwards, midfielders, and defenders, of course, but it is also a crucial game of wing play. And last Saturday against the Tangerines, their wingers were shockingly ineffective.  Both Jose Enrique and Jonas Gutierrez failed to defend well.  Same with the usually impressive defender, Coloccini.   

Jose Enrique misses his block attempt on PJ Campbell's goal in the second half, September 11, 2010.

So what is Chris Hughton to do this Saturday.  Who does he start?  My two cents:

I don't think Kevin Nolan and Allen Smith should start the game.  Nolan could be replaced by either Hatem Ben Arfa or Shola Ameobi.  Allen Smith should sit in favor of Cheick Tioté.  He's eager to contribute.  

The more probable scenario, courtesy of the fine pundits over at Shite Seats, is that Ben Arfa will start in place of Joey Barton.  Both Barton and Nolan scored in Newcastle's rout of Aston Villa, but have since fallen out of form entirely.  So Smith and Barton out; Tioté and Ben Arfa in.

Hughton isn't silly enough to start Ameobi over Nolan (I would, and that's why I'm not a football manager).  So I am sure Nolan will start, with Ameobi replacing him at the 70 minute mark.  We can also expect Hughton to make a defensive substitution at the same time.  Either 35 year old Sol Campbell or Ryan Taylor can add fresh legs to the defense for the final 20 minutes.

Which leaves me with the question I have had since the season started.  What is up with Peter Lovenkrands? Newcastle need nine more wins to ensure survival in the Premiership this season.  They're not getting nine wins without substantial contribution from one of the best Dutch midfielders alive.  We need McLovin.  He has been used a sub all season.  But he is yet to make his presence felt on the pitch.  I suspect he needs to get healthier and fitter as the season goes on.  But he needs to make an impact as soon as possible.

Sox Sweep Baltimore

Alex Cora had a good game for a change. Dustin Pedroia had a great game as usual (MVP, anyone?). And Orioles pitcher Jim Miller couldn't have had a worse day. He got run-over in the bottom of the 9th, which ended with two successful bunts to advance Alex Cora home for the winning run. Adding insult to injury, no outs were recorded in the bottom of the 9th, and Jim Miller's throw to home to get Cora was off the mark. The Sox have swept Baltimore. Last week's painful loss to the Yankees is all but forgotten.

The Red Sox improve to 83-57.

Final score - Baltimore 4, Red Sox 5

David Stern About To Make Things Worse For His League

NBA Commissioner, David Stern, plans to hold a press conference today before Game 5 of the NBA finals in Los Angeles. He's the fourth man to hold that title in the history of the NBA, and has held that title for 24 years, back when there was a long-running Celtics-Lakers rivalry. It's his league. He built it so that at one point. let by the fame of Michael Jordan, it was the second most-watched sport on US television. Since the late 90s, the NBA has faded in both spectatorship and in terms of game quality. A game of forwards and guards has become a simple game of 'give the ball to the big guy.' A game of colorful, but friendly rivalries has given way to physical brawls and some of the ugliest moments in American prfessional sport.

It is a sport in which a young man with enormous talent, but an over-inflated ego and total lack of respect for his teammates and coach was, at one point, compared to Michael Jordan. Fortunately, his teams collapse in Game 4 of the 2008 Finals ensures that he will never be compared to Jordan again.

But back to David Stern, the man who has been at the helm for both the rise and fall of the NBA (1979-2004, as I see it). He has been battling a crisis involving betting by one or more referees, and possible game fixing, which is still under investigation. When the so-called NBA Betting Scandal broke last July 20th, it was bad news. So far, only one referee, Jim Donaghy has been convicted in the scandal. But I think that today's expected blanket denial that the scandal involved more than one referee, and possibly included game-fixing, is the wrong move.

Obviously, I am not alone in that opinion. The editors of USA Today spoke-up about this blanket denial on Saturday:

A more appropriate response would have been to say that the league would go to extraordinary lengths to remove suspicions. An independent expert, along the lines of former U.S. senator George Mitchell, who looked into the steroids issue in baseball, could evaluate NBA officiating, examine whether some refs are too cozy with individual players (some of whom provide marketable autographs and other gifts), and determine whether Donaghy was indeed a lone bad apple.

And Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says it more clearly:

Stern used to know how to deal with things like this. The undisputed "best commissioner in American sports" could handle every crisis that came his way, and he did it without a hiccup. But he's wrong if he thinks he can solve this stain that Donaghy is putting on his league by telling everyone that the admitted game fixer is merely some desperate rogue trying to rat out anyone and everyone to get the feds to reduce his prison time.

What he should be saying -- actually shouting it in front of as many television cameras as he can -- is that he is going to get to the bottom of this with the mother of all independent investigations. Someone other than the NBA needs to get to the bottom of every creepy, sleazy and suspicious circumstance and wild allegation.

Continued blanket denials and brush-offs are not going to make these latest allegations -even from a convicted felon- go away. Stern is showing that he no longer has the magic touch in managing his once-great league.

Jake Gyllenhaal To Play Joe Namath In Post-Strike Sports Flick

Finally, the story of Joe Namath leading the Jets to victory in Super Bowl III will be told on the big screen. I'll pay to see it!

Jets fans most definitely deserve to see their finest hour portrayed in a feature-length movie, starring an actor who can certainly play the role. Hopefully the writer's strike will end in 2008, or else Jake might slowly grow too old for the role. Namath was an older-looking 25 year-old when he won the Super Bowl. Jake is about to turn 27.

Maybe someday I can write Impregnable: Tom Brady.

Win Number Eight

A few observations on Game 1 of the MLBCS:

In a quick reversal, I am not afraid of the Rockies anymore. Oh sure, they are going to fight back hard. But let them come. The Red Sox can claerly handle it. The Sox are relentless and last night, they laid-down a multi-course beatdown. Based on the team's attitude and offensive production, I fully expect the Red Sox to win again tonight at Fenway. They will drop one or more games in Denver, but that is expected as well.

Jim Caple, ESPN:

"We were definitely a little rusty -- that's for sure," Colorado reliever LaTroy Hawkins said. "Just looking at the way we threw the ball. Our timing was off a little bit. But I guarantee you it won't take long to get that timing back.'"

I sure hope so because this was just an awful game. It got to the point that baseball's P.R. department felt it worth noting that Stephen King was seen in the stands reading a copy of Newsweek. Reading a copy of Newsweek? This game was such a dull and long affair that I'm surprised King didn't sit down and write a sequel to "The Shining" during it.

Tim McCarver's worst comment last night on Fox was his attempt to compare last night's blowout to the blowout Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS, in which the Yankees beat the Sox 19-8. McCarver reminded viewers that following that smackdown, the Sox won four straight games to complete the greatest comeback in the history of American professional sports. Comparing a Game 1 blowout to a Game 3 ALCS blowout is simply not practical or useful. The Rockies are not going to suddenly become the Gas-House Gorillas. Actually, the Red Sox are playing that role right now.

Dan Shaughnessy, The Boston Globe:

Entitled Sox fans, however, would do well to remember the 1960 New York Yankees, who beat the Pittsburgh Pirates by scores of 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0, but still lost the World Series in seven games.

Retire, Dan. Please. You're sounding like Tim McCarver. I'm not asking you to become Fox News and worship the Sox, but can you please stop bringing-up irrelevant facts until they become relevant. If the Sox lose 3-1, and then win 11-2 again, it can then be discussed. But that's a Suzyn Waldman comment. It is a swipe at the Sox that fails to acknowledge the facts on the ground. And the reports from the front lines say that the Sox are going to blow away the Rockies in Game 2.

Bob Ryan, The Boston Globe:

The simple truth was that this was all too easy. The Rockies are not that bad. Nobody is that bad. What we had here was a classic convergence of forces. If you must have an enforced layoff, you don't want to be facing a team that is currently swinging the bats as if there were some kind of "Damn Yankees" thing going on.

Wait a minute. Wasn't that what we all suspected was going on with the Rockies? Have the Sawx made Satan a better offer?

Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN:

[The] Red Sox, who lead the league in 5 o'clock shadows, looked like they had enough energy left for a bar fight against shrimpers. There was that much of a difference in swagger. That's not a rip on the Rockies, who will recover from their Game 1 dry heave, but further evidence of just how good the Red Sox are.

"We made Francis work a little bit,'' said Boston first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who didn't play in the 2004 World Series.

A little bit? That was the longest four-inning, 103-pitch outing of Francis' life.

"Not many people last until the sixth inning against us,'' said Red Sox starter Josh Beckett.

These Red Sox aren't exactly the same character-driven circus of three seasons ago. They're not the Idiots. They don't "cowboy up." What they do is hit and pitch opposing teams into submission. They grind you down like rock to fine gravel. That's what they did to the Rockies. Three runs in the first, one in the second, two in the fourth, and seven in the decisive fifth. You could hear the screams all the way from Denver...

So dominant were the Red Sox, that about the only employee on the payroll who didn't have a hit Wednesday evening was Wally the mascot, who, by the way, arrived at the Fens in an oversized limo. Speier probably would have walked him anyway...

The Red Sox tied a World Series record with eight doubles. And those 13 total runs and the 12-run margin were the most in Game 1 history.

Jerry Crasnick, ESPN:

And a single blowout isn't necessarily a sign of things to come. The 1996 Yankees lost the World Series opener 12-1 to Atlanta, then dropped Game 2 in the Bronx before recovering to beat the Braves in six games. In 1960, Pittsburgh beat the Yankees in seven games despite suffering losses of 10-0, 12-0 and 16-3.

Good Lord. Enough. Never mind that Josh Beckett dominated like Bob Gibson last night. Can that guy get a little more respect? Derek Jeter gets put on a pedistal by the national media for playing hard. Why not Josh? Goddammit.
On the other hand, just about every scout or big-league talent evaluator you came across this season pronounced the American League worlds ahead of the National League. The "varsity vs. junior varsity'' line will appear routinely in newspaper columns across the country after Boston's 13-1 walkover in Game 1.

That's more like it. Stick with that narrative. There is a talent gap between the AL and the NL that needs to be acknowledged. Sad but true. I want a close series. However, I doubt I'm going to get it.
So now the Rockies will try to be more aggressive and pound the strike zone and get ahead in the count. And if that doesn't work, ducking and covering might be advisable...

For the sake of injecting some drama in this World Series, the Rockies better hope for a quick turnaround. In October, it's amazing how quickly yesterday's fairy tale can turn into today's roadkill.

Ken Rosenthal, the field reporter for Fox Sports had some astonishing and inaccurate comments last night in the early part of the fifth inning. He said that the Rockies beat the Cubs and the Diamondbacks. Um, didn't the Rockies beat the Phillies, and the Diamondbacks beat the Cubs? Anyway, he goes on to say that the Cubs were "overrated," and that the Diamond backs "weren't very good." So there you have it. After all this talk of the Rockies bringing their red-hot winning streak to Fenway, a member of the Fox broadcasting team throws the entire National League under the bus.

Another tidbit: I can't prove anything, but I think Tim McCarver tried to re-write history last night on Fox. He made a comment that following the 19-8 blowout loss to the Yankees in Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS, some Red Sox players personally congratulated the Yankees, and wised them luck against the Cardinals in the World Series. That's not possible. The 2004 NLCS was a dramatic 7-game series, overshadowed by the dramatics of the ALCS. Game 3 of the ALCS was played on October 16th. At the same time, the Cardinals had their backs against the wall, unable to beat the Astros. They turned things around on October 20th and 21st when they won games 6 and 7.

I faintly recall the stories of Red Sox players personally congratulating Yankees players being false. It was Red Sox co-owner Larry Lucchno who briefly drafted a concession statement that night. So what the hell, Tim?

Also, am I correct about that? I can't imagine Orlando Cabrera, Kevin Millar, or anyone from that 2004 team stopping by the visitor's clubhouse to with them luck in the World Series.

Oh well. Let's get back to the game that was played.

Jason Stark, ESPN:

You can mark down that 13-1 score as the most lopsided Game 1 blowout in World Series history. And if you want to chalk that up to rust, eight-day layoffs, jet lag or sea-level readjustment issues on the part of the Rockies, go right ahead.

But it sure seemed as if it had a lot more to do with (A) the Christy Mathewson of his generation (aka Josh Beckett) and (B) the hottest lineup ever to march to home plate in the annals of 103 Octobers.

Wait. Did we just say "the hottest lineup ever to march to home plate in the annals of 103 Octobers?"

Yep. We sure did. Which means ... hotter than the '27 Yankees. Hotter than the '36 Yankees. Hotter than "The Big Red Machine." Hotter even than the 2004 Red Sox.

Seriously. We can say that because this makes three straight postseason games now that these Red Sox have scored in double figures: 12 runs in Game 6 against Cleveland, 11 more runs in Game 7 against Cleveland, and another 13 runs in Game 1 of the World Series.

So let's see now. How many other teams have ever rolled up more than 10 runs in three consecutive postseason games? That would be ... exactly ... zero.


Over the last four games -- games started by C.C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook and Wednesday's innocent victim, Jeff Francis -- the Red Sox have outscored the Indians and Rockies by the narrow margin of (yikes) 43-6.

That's 43 runs in 33 innings. Not to mention the second-largest run differential any team has piled up over a four-game span in postseason history (behind only the '96 Braves).

And what those Red Sox thumpers did Wednesday -- against a team that was 21-1 over the last five weeks, and against a pitching staff that came into this World Series with a 2.08 postseason ERA -- was flat-out ridiculous. For instance:

• The all-time World Series record for extra-base hits in a game was nine -- set 82 years ago by the 1925 Pirates (in a game started by Walter Johnson). The Red Sox not only tied that record. They'd tied it with two outs in the fifth inning.

• The most runs ever scored in Game 1 of any of the previous 102 World Series was 12. The Red Sox racked up 13 before they'd even made their 15th out.

• And no team had ever staged a two-out rally in which it went an entire turn through its lineup -- all nine hitters -- with every one of them reaching base in any inning of the previous 597 World Series games ever played. But the Red Sox did that in the fifth inning of this game (on five hits and four walks).


It means the Rockies had just gotten manhandled by one of the most patient, relentless lineups ever to show up in any World Series. And if the NL champs don't throw more strikes, they're going to meet the same fate as the Indians and Angels did in this postseason. Which ain't good, by the way.

MLBCS Game 1
Red Sox 13, Rockies 1

It's The MLB Championship Series!

I'm not going to say World Series, because the world has nothing to do with it. So I call it the MLBCS instead. And it is the forth MLBCS of my lifetime involving the Red Sox. Considering all the 'pain' the Red Sox have suffered in the 20th century, that's not a bad record at all. Since 1967 they have been the most loved professional sports team in New England. And win or lose, you have to love them. They have been good neighbors, and fine entertainers.

So the final series is upon us, and what happens? Rudolph Giuliani tells a Massachusetts crowd that he is rooting for the Red Sox to win. I think there are three possibilities here:

1. He's lying. It's like him telling the GOP that as he saw people jump from 1 WTC, he turned to Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and said, "Thank God that George Bush is our President." It's a flat-out lie, and it is pointless.

2. And if it isn't a lie, then he's truly mad.

3. This is reverse-psychology. He is trying to jinx the Red Sox. So he tells a room full of Red Sox fans that he is on their side. After funding four Yankee championship parades up lower Broadway, and giving the Yankees tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded welfare, there's no way he is actually going to voice support for the Sox. He wants the Sox to lose.

I can't blame him. This is the season to hate Boston-area professional sports. We have Gregg Easterbrook writing that the Patriots are pure evil, and the nation is tired of the Red Sox being everyone's favorite, lovable underdogs. The fact is this time, the Sox are not underdogs. They are favored to win the championship considering the large talent and experience gaps that exist on paper between them and the Rockies.

I am scared of the Rockies. I really am. They are fearless kids who have won every game for the last month. The Red Sox have found their groove again after losing three straight. But will the comfortable and confident Sox be able to beat the red hot kids from Denver? Tonight will give us a lot of clues and indicators.

I'm scared. The Sox have to win at least one game at home. But the more they pressure the Rockies, the more the Rocks will fight back. The Rockies will not be broken in this series. They can only be held back just enough to give the Sox close victories. Here are my predictions:

Game 1: Sox win. Beckett delivers 7 solid innings for the victory. Not many runs score in the Boston drizzle. Final score 3-1.

Game 2: Rockies win. Schilling goes 6 innings, but Boston's middle relief gives-up the game. Sox offense goes cold. [Hard to imagine that happening at home, but I am expecting some heartbreak in game 2. If not, then disregard everything below.]

Game 3: Rockies win. Sox need more time to adjust to the cold mountain climate. The bullpen does not hold the line. Bottom of the order + Daisuke batting = automatic outs.

Game 4: Sox win 6-4. Lester delivers an inspiring victory going 7 full innings. Youkilis, Manny, and JD Drew go yard. Some amazing outfield catches, too.

Game 5: Sox win behind the arms of Beckett and Paps.. Sox squeeze by 2-1. Denver crowd is stunned.

Game 6: All hands on deck. The Red Sox clinch the series at home behind an amazing effort from just about everyone except Paps. A blowout. Sox win the MLBCS.

Sox in 6.

Just be sure to mute your televisions. You don't need to hear a word that Joe Buck and Tim McCarver say.

Win Number Seven

What will it take (or how much money would be required) for Tim McCarver to shut up?

I'm in full wingnut mode after last night's win. I'm channeling Malkin, Pam, Coulter, Reynolds, Bill-o, Goldstein....all those fuckers. Someone sedate me.

So Cleveland....

It's Tribe Time now?

Cleveland Rocks?


You were lucky to win games three and four. You were soundly beaten in games five and six. And the Sox were the lucky ones in game seven.

I admit it. The Sox were lucky in the final game. How else do you explain a victory by a team that hit into three double-plays last night? How else do you explain Kenny Lofton getting a green light, and then a red light at third base? How about the major outfield blunder by Julio Lugo? Or Kenny Lofton being called out at second when the replay showed he was safe? The baseball gods shut the door on Cleveland last night after the 6th inning.

The curse of Kenny Lofton continues. Thank goodness.

OK. I'm done with ya. Now go home and wipe away your tears with those free towels that you got at The Jake. And enjoy your winter by the lake. You are now officially the chokers of the American League. Not us. You.

ALCS Game 7
Red Sox 11, Indians 2

Here's another guy who needs to go away...Harold Reynolds. I'm like George W. Bush. I want my team surrounded by fawning journalists. Haters need to go!

Just another Irish-American Boston cop who now smels of booze.

Leaving the American League trophy on the mound? That's almost...tribal. Nice way to show off what was won in this war.

Win Number Five

Lithuanian Soxfan on Sons of Sam Horn:

Beckett doesn't need to tap a keg; he already tapped the anthem-singer. [ED - Country singer Danielle Peck his ex-girlfriend from summer 2006, and sang twice during the event.]

We'd like to think that Josh Beckett is one well-laid man tonight.

Jackie MacMullan in The Boston Globe:

As for those who theorized he was distracted in that initial inning by the fact the Indians flew in his former girlfriend Danielle Peck to sing the national anthem, Beckett came at that with heat, too.

"I don't get paid to make those fucking decisions," he said. "Thanks for flying one of my friends to the game so she can watch it for free."

ALCS Game 5
Red Sox 7, Indians 1

Shorter* Suzyn Waldman

Suzyn has outdone herself. Forget demanding that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays forfeit a game because they were late and the Yankees had already showered and dressed for the game. Forget her constant dismissal of Yankee opponents as not worthy of victories, and her constant attitude of Yankee entitlement (although that relates to this latest incident). No, on October 8th 2007, Suzyn Waldman took her awful performance as a color commentator to a ridiculously new low level. Following Joe Torre's post-game press conference at Jacobs Field in Cleveland (which followed the Yankee defeat in Game 4 of the ALDS, and subsequent elimination from the playoffs), Suzyn Waldman went on the air and cried.

Here is her full broadcast which you can download here (courtesy

You're going to have to bear with me here, cos' you know me, I cry at Cinderella, and I can't believe what's going on in there. Um....What's going on in that clubhouse and what Joe Torre is saying at the podium - John, this rivals that plane ride from Seattle [sniff], because everybody knows there's going to be a lot of changes here, and people are absolutely saying goodbye to each other. And it's very very tough place to be right now. [Sniff] Joe Torre is at the podium, and um, the first thing he said was that we wanted to congratulate Eric Wedge the way he turned his team around, and if you make a mistake they'll pummel you and that's exactly what they did. Um. Then obviously the first question was about his future. He didn't want to talk about that. He said, "I told the players I was so proud of what they did, they were in a hole, sometimes you get complacent, sometimes you forget how hard it is. We didn't forget.

And perhaps ironically, John Sterling settled Waldman down, by telling her, "all good things come to an end," and that Joe Torre will, "land on his feet," and be fine with his wife, daughter, brother, and his well-earned millions.

Now we know that most Yankee broadcasters are complete wingnuts. Michael Kay on YES TV believes that the Yankees have been the best team in baseball since 1995, facts be damned. John Sterling on WCBS 880 AM is a poor broadcaster because you can tell by his tone whether the Yankees are winning or losing. If he sounds disgusted, then you don't need to know the score. And then there is Suzyn Waldman, John Sterling's sidekick since 2005. They will be broadcasting together on WCBS 880 AM through the end of the 2011 regular season.

Suzyn is quick to pile praise or criticism on just about any player. It's as if John Sterling provokes her (or unleashes her). I have no transcripts, but a typical moment might sound like this.

Sterling: Andy deals....and there's a ground ball to center. Jeter runs to the ball, picks it up, tags second, throws to Giambi...a beautiful 6-3 double play, and Jeter made it look easy. He picked-up the ball bare-handed, tagged second, jumped over the sliding baserunner, and threw to first all in about 3 seconds.


Sterling: He has done it so many times. He makes it look easy. The captain showing some golden glove skills, and didn't use his glove.


OK, I will try to ignore this duo. It's easy when the Red Sox are on their way to winning their seventh World Series.

Brian Bruney And Jeff Karstens Lose It For The Yankees

I think last night's loss was the first time since June that the Yankee bullpen blew a lead and lost a game on the road. An amazing run.

I also think that Brian Bruney and Jeff Karstens won't be on the Yankee postseason roster next month. Just my guess.

With Wang, Joba, and Mo available tonight, I expect the Yankees to win and secure the Wild Card spot.

But in just 48 hours, we have seen the Yankees' chances of winning the AL East slip from 40%, to 19%, to 6%. All Boston has to do is win 3 more games out of the remaining 5, and the AL East is theirs, regardless of what the Yankees do.

And if they blow that, then yes, Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman, and Michael Kay can mention it all they want. But if the Sox win the AL East, I don't want to hear about them blowing a 14-game lead ever again.

The Red Sox magic number is 3. When they wake-up Saturday morning, the AL East title should already be theirs.

Live Blogging The Sox-Yanks Penultimate Regular Season Game

OK. Diving right in. The Sox are not in a must-win situation, but a win today would settle the Boston fans who treated last night like Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.

We need to keep in mind that the Red Sox did have a 14-game lead over the Yankees. But that was in May. At the All Star break, the lead was nine. Given that the lead today is four games, it doesn't seem so bad, does it?

Archetype is here with me. He literally just arrived from Boston. We're basking in front of my HD plasma on a sunny and beautiful New York afternoon. We've got our beverages and possibly thin crust pizza later. It's all good. Play ball.


16:03 Top of the 1st. One out. Derek Jeter hits a solo home run to deep center. Bad start, Josh. "What a BOLT to center field." - Tim McCarver

16:06 Sodenj5 on Sons of Sam Horn: "Great, for the rest of the game we get to hear about Jeter's power."

16:06 Indeed, I might have to mute my TV if Tim McCarver starts talking about Jeter's greatness.

16:10 "Is this the Yankee broadcast? I just want to make sure." - Archetype.

16:12 Posada is at-bat. Two outs. Tim McCarver: "A lot of the time, catchers are the toughest hitters to pitch around, because they call pitches to pitch around hitters." Good Lord.

16:14 End of the first. Please, Red Sox, can we get some payback?

16:15 Clay Buchholz reads the starting lineup for the Red Sox.

16:16 Sodenj5 on Sons of Sam Horn: "Can anyone deny the fact that Buchholz is a dead ringer for Beavis?"

16:21 Bottom of the 1st, Pedroia is on first (walked) and there's one out. Ortiz at the plate. A hit! Dustin now on second. Ortiz at first. Keep it up. Produce runs.

16:23 Lowell gets an RBI single with a liner down the 3rd base line. Johnny Damon is playing left and we know his arm is not great. Dustin scores.

16:24 JD Drew grounds out. Ortiz advances to third.

16:24 "Can we sell JD Drew to Atlanta for half price? Or the Sox can sell him on" - Archetype

16:31 Dustin Pedroia stops a grounder, turns to his right, and fires at first for the out. Beautiful. Golden Glove nominee, I think. Remember what he did in the Clay Buchholz no-hitter two weeks ago.

16:32 A 1-2-3 inning for Josh Beckett.

16:40 Sox go down in order. End of the second.

16:52 Beckett strikes out A-Rod. His pitch count is getting higher, though. 58 pitches through three innings.

16:53 Mets just lost a second straight game to the Phillies. Their NL East lead falls to 4 games. Pedro Martinez struck out 9 in just 6 innings, and his effort was wasted.

16:59 Bottom of the third. Two out. Ortiz walks.

17:02 Mike Lowell walks. JD Drew is up. This won't end well, right?

17:02 Stephen King is in the house. So in Rene Russo. And Steve Martin is sporting tinted bifocals and it looks like he cut his chin shaving just before the game? Wow.

17:04 JD Drew walks! Three straight walks issued to the Red Sox. The bases are loaded. But watch Veritek ground out...

17:06 Tek pops out. I need my first drink.

17:15 Beckett deals his way through the top of the 4th. Nice. Pitch count is up to 73 as the shadows get darker in the outfield.

17:20 Sox go in order in the bottom of the 4th.

17:30 Yankees go in order in the top of the 5th. I just ordered pizza. Waiting for something big to happen. Please score runs. Plural.

17:40 Bottom of the 5th. Kevin Youkilis is hit in the hand. He is replaced by Ellsbury. Ortiz gets a hit. Ellsbury advances to third.

17:44 Now JD Drew is up with 2 outs. And Ho-Ly-Shit! He lines one down third for a hit! Ellsbbury scores. The Sox take the lead! Jason Varitek swings at balls and then chops out. Boooooo!

17:53 Pizza is here. Sparkling shiraz is flowing. Aw yeah! For anyone who is into wine, you gotta try sparkling shiraz with pizza. Step away from your highbrow pinot and have some fun.

17:55 Three straight Yankees ground-out to Julio Lugo. Another easy inning. BUT WE NEED MORE RUNS!!!

17:58 Hinske hits a wall double! Nice start to the bottom of the sixth.

18:00 Coco gets a hit to center! But Eric Hinske wasn't running? He only advances to third. Sigh.

18:01 Julio Lugo flies out. One out.

18:03 Coco steals second! Now we have something brewing.

18:06 On a grounder, Hinske runs home to find Posada with the ball. He plows into Posada. It's an out, but I like to see a collision like that. Looking at the replay, it was a realy big hit. Nearly took Posada's head off.

18:10 Jacoby Elssbury gets a hit! Coco scores from third. Boston now leads 3-1.

18:12 David Ortiz gets a HUGE double to the center gap. Jacoby Ellsbury scores from first. The ball reaches Posada's glove as Ellsbury slides, but Posada does not apply the tag! Ellsbury is safe! Boston takes a 5-1 lead! Oh good times! Good times!

18:24 Top of the seventh. Beckett passes 100 pitches. But he is throwing great stuff. I assume this is his last inning. Finish it strong, Josh!

18:28 Josh Beckett strikes out Melky Cabrera! Take a bow, Josh.

18:33 Bottom of the seventh. JD Drew walks. This guy is the offensive player of the game so far.

18:36 The Yankees make their second pitching change of the day. Edwar Ramirez is out. U Mass alum Ron Vallone is in. JD Drew is on first and there is one out. Eric Hinske is next to bat for the Sox. He asks Jorge if he is OK following their collision. That's nice. He still rolled over Jorge like a truck, which will earn him a lot of respect from these passionate fans.

18:41 Hinske walks. Another pitching change. Brian Bruney comes-in for the Yankees.

18:45 Coco Crisp doubles. JD Drew scores. Hinske goes to third. Still just 1 out. This is wonderful. 6-1 Boston.

18:48 Julio Lugo walks. Bases are now loaded. Please someone score!

18:50 Dustin Pedroia strikes out. Two out. Oh no...

18:51 Pitching change for the Yankees. Sean Henn comes to the mound.

18:54 Jacoby Ellsbury singles. Two score. The man is 2-2 since coming into the game for the bruised Kevin Youkilis. El honbre es en fuego. Sox lead 8-1. We can breathe easy now.

18:58 David Ortiz walks. The bases are loaded again. When I think Sean Henn, I think more runs. And more runs have come.

18:58 Joe Torre comes to the mound for the fourth pitching change for the Yankees this inning. The Sox needed another big inning and this seems to be it. Even if no more runs score, the game seems to be in the bag.

19:00 Uclis20 on Sons of Sam Horn: "Somewhere, Michael Kay is complaining about this."

19:00 NYCSox on Sons of Sam Horn: "So does anyone think that Michael Kay would be bitching about all these pitching changes?"

19:02 Mike Lowell walks. Julio Lugo scores. Sox are up 9-1. I am breathing easier. But with the bases loaded for JD Drew, I want to see something great happen.

19:06 Oh well, JD Drew strikes out. End of the 7th. The Sox scored on 2 hits and 5 walks. The Yankees made 4 pitching changes. The inning lasted 36 minutes. That should be it for the Yankees today.

19:11 Now is the time for Fox to stroke Derek Jeter and replay his solo home run from the top of the first.

19:22 Top of the eighth. Two out. Mike Timlin strikes out A-Rod!! Take a bow, Timmeh!!!!

19:25 The Yankees make 5 defensive substitutions. Joe Torre lets the kids play and effectively concedes the game. Joba Chamberlain is warming-up in the bullpen. We probably won't face him, unless we score more runs here.

19:27 Eric Hinske homers into the Yankee bullpen! Joba almost caught it! Boston's first homer of the game. They now lead 10-1.

19:30 Obscure Name on Sons of Sam Horn: "Joba spraining his shoulder trying to catch that would have been the greatest thing ever."

19:30 MartyBarettMVP on Sons of Sam Horn: "How funny would that have been had Joba hurt his wrist going for that homer?"

19:35 The Red Sox are about to win this game and the Fox commentators are talking about the Sox former 14 game lead again. My head hurts.

19:38 Game over. The Sox win. We beat Wang. Now we have to put the hammer down tomorrow night. The magic number is 9. And get this - it will be Roger Clemens against Curt Schilling. Set the DVR. This is going to be great.