On to the ALCS

Yesterday’s game:
Astros 12, Braves 3

Astros win series, 3-2
Thirteen division titles — or whatever it is — and one measly World Series victory to show for it. This has got to be the worst dynasty ever. Watch: the first team to win the division other than the Braves will probably go on to win the Series. Atlanta’s inevitable crumbling aside, how big is that Carlos Beltran trade now? The fans of Houston won’t care if he signs with the Cubs or Red Sox or Yankees this winter if the Astros win the World Series. I think both the players and fans in Houston and Boston know that it’s this year or, like, 2007, when they can come back with some seasoned younger players mixed in with a new crop of veterans. Guys like Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Wade Miller, Brad Lidge and Andy Pettitte will still be around (even if they’re not now, in the case of Miller and Pettitte) then, but this is the last best chance for Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Jeff Kent and Roger Clemens. The Astros, who took 10 of the 18 meetings with the Cardinals this season, will have to earn a split in St. Louis with the likes of Brandon Backe and Pete Munro. There’s a chance. Each team has swept a series on the road this season. Could Backe be this postseason’s Josh Beckett or John Lackey? Then that sets up Clemens and Oswalt for starts at home in Games 3 and 4, and also leaves one available to start (and the other to relieve?) in a potential Game 7. I’m sticking with my Cardinals pick in the upcoming series, but just like in the ALCS, I can see Houston riding the wave at least one more step.

This afternoon in New York, “Paul Revere” was to ride through Times Square announcing that the Red Sox were coming. The Red Sox are coming! I think it was a stunt by ESPN Radio (that’s where I heard the announcement, tacked on to the end of a “SportsCenter” update), and while the excitement of the rivalry and the buzz about town is great — I love that stuff — I hate it when they bastardize things and screw up history. There are two things about this series for which this Paul Revere stunt might apply: The Red Sox wear red coats, just as the British soldiers did, and they’re from Boston. That’s it. He’s a Boston figure, and if anyone gets to have him ride through the streets in a contemporary call to arms, it’s the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Revere warned of the enemy coming to Boston, not Boston invading New Amsterdam. I once commissioned a cartoon from the artist of our campus newspaper to draw Paul Revere riding through the streets of Boston shouting, “The Irish are coming! The Irish are coming!” in advance of a Notre Dame-Boston College game. Now, that was clever.

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