Monday, Oct. 8 at 2 p.m. ET

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Dave Sheinin and Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, October 8, 2007; 2:00 PM

Washington Post baseball writers Dave Sheinin and Barry Svrluga were online Monday, Oct. 8 at 2 p.m. ET to take your questions and comments about the baseball postseason.

A transcript follows.

Discussion Archive

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Dave Sheinin: Hey... Greetings from New York. We've still got baseball here -- woo hoo! Though Mr. Svrluga is chilling at home, thanks to sweeps in all the other series, I'm still taking my hacks. I see y'all have already begun. So I'll jump right in...

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Centreville, Va.: Just want to say how much I've enjoyed the TBS broadcasts. They stagger the games, so I am not just stuck with the Yankees or Red Sox. I can watch all the games. Don't have to listen to Tim McCarver salivate over the Yankees, or listen to him make his point over and over and over and over and over. (He broadcasts to the lowest common denominator, right?) While TBS has not be spectacular, they have not been agonizing. I like the afternoon weekend games, and I am not shot at work this morning from being up to 1 AM watching the conclusion to the Yankees/Indians game last night.

However, they have recently stooped to the FOX habit of showing people praying in the stands late in the game. UGH! Wish they would show me what was happening on the field rather than people watching what I wish I was watching.

Barry Svrluga: I have heard mixed reactions to the TBS stuff, and the biggest thing is they've thrown a lot of broadcast teams together that may not have even met before (Don Orsillo/Joe Simpson, anyone?). I do like being able to see all the games, especially because if you're covering one, you can finish up work and get out in time to catch the last five innings of the late ones.

My concern would be: Can non-baseball fans just stumble across this stuff and become enthralled? That can happen if it's on a major network or ESPN. I think you're pushing this into a corner and asking the baseball fan to find it.

Dave Sheinin: The only thing I'll add is I hope this "Frank TV" thing fails miserably, because I'm sick of him already, and we're not even through the first series.

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Barry Svrluga: Hello. This is Barry Svrluga.

My itinerary the past week: Games 1 and 2 in Philly on Wednesday and Thursday; Game 2 of Yankees-Indians last Friday (midge-fest); Game 3 in Denver, where the Rockies clinched, on Saturday; then Game 3 of Red Sox-Angels yesterday. Caught a red-eye last night. Back in D.C. I head to Phoenix for the NLCS on Wednesday, and will have that one all the way through.

Thanks for joining us.

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Manor Park, D.C.: Dave and Barry, thanks for doing this. Is either of you tracking the ex-Cub-factor? The theory is/was, whichever team has the most ex-Cubs on it bears them as the plague-germs of defeat, so you should always expect the playoff team with the most ex-Cubs on its roster to lose.

Barry Svrluga: I kinda think the "current Cubs factor" played into these playoffs more. As in, Alfonso Soriano, you're a Cub, so have a horrible postseason and be gone in three games. but that's just me.

Dave Sheinin: Well, and there was also that "current Cubs manager" thing. I mean, I defended the Piniella move -- yanking Zambrano after six innings in Game 1 in order to save him for Game 4 on three days' rest. But how did that work out for them? I don't think they ever held another lead the entire series. Doh!

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Washington, D.C.: Is Westbrook Cleveland's third-best pitcher?

Dave Sheinin: Sad as it is, the answer is yes. Huge drop off between Nos. 1 and 2 (Sabathia and Carmona), and No. 3. In fact, when the season started Westbrook was their No. 2 starter, but Carmona (who was a disaster in 2006 as a reliever) soon shot past him. How did the Indians wind up like this? Well, Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers (their No. 3 starter when the season began) were busts.

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Bethesda, Md.: Dave or Barry,

Considering the earlier rumors/speculation/confirmations, or whatever concerning the state of Steinbrenner's current mental acuity, was the Bergen paper being responsible about printing the threat, both to Torre and Froemming?

Dave Sheinin: Hmmm. Good question. I've read the stories about Steinbrenner's supposed senility. But from what I saw in the Bergen Record story, he seemed completely coherent, even vigorous and sharp. I think the story even made note of that. So if that was all portrayed accurately, I think it was fine to run with the story. It sounded like The Boss of 10 or even 20 years ago.

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Fairfax, Va.: Care to comment on the way the three teams that have won celebrated their victory? The Rox and D-Backs acted like they just won the World Series. The Sox congratulated each other heartily, but not like they had just achieved their goal, but looking to move on to the next level. Is this a sign of experience or a sign of focus, or does it just not matter? Is the group pile-on just an ESPN phenomenon? Used to only see this at the end of the WS.

Barry Svrluga: I thought the exact same thing yesterday when I watched the Red Sox, in rather business-like fashion, line up to shake hands on the field, and there were a lot of warm hugs exchanged, but not a lot of jumping around.

Then I got into the Sox clubhouse, and there was every bit of the champagne-spraying that I had seen in the Rockies' clubhouse the night before. (Note to self: Do laundry before heading back out onto road, and remember to bring raincoat for any potential clinching games.) As Terry Francona said yesterday, "We want to do a lot more. But there's nothing wrong with being proud of what we've done so far."

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Columbia, Md.: My two favorite sports reporters at the same time, thanks guys. What a crazy baseball weekend, what with the bug and light problems. One questions though, apparently Steinbrenner was upset that Froemming continued play with the bugs and said he won't umpire any more Yankees games. Does he really get to make this decision? It would not seem like the owners get to make this choice, even if you are Steinbrenner.

And, oh, what an a-- he is to say Torre is gone if he doesn't win the series. There are plenty of teams who would be beside themselves with joy to have Torre. I certainly don't want the Yankees to win but it would be justice for them to do so and then Torre quit. Go Sox!

Barry Svrluga: Thanks, Columbia. I think Dave would have some more insight into this in general, but the part about Froemming is correct. Not even George can choose the umpires. The point is that he's retiring, and unless he gets the ALCS or the Series (should the Yanks get there), he's done umpiring New York games.

I was at the midge game, and given how it was clearly affecting Chamberlain -- and others, I mean, I've never seen anything remotely like it -- I would not have argued against a delay. It was ridiculous.

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Downtown D.C.: Barry,

Did the bugs invade the press box on Friday night? Please do tell -- it must have been quite a scene.

Barry Svrluga: Press box in Cleveland is pretty high, so they did not come up there, thank goodness. I would've been like Chamberlain, firing adjectives well wide of the zone, had they arrived.

I spent a lot of time in the Yankees' clubhouse that night, and their thought was not only did they seem to concentrate on the infield, but they were really focused on the mound. Chamberlain had one wild pitch in his (albeit brief) major league career to that point. He had walked two batters in a single outing just once, and that was in his major league debut. Yet here he was, with two walks, a hit batter and two wild pitches IN THE SAME INNING. I'm a big believer that the bugs decided that game.

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Burke, Va.: Does Moose redeem his season tonight with a win? Does Torre really lose his job if the Yankees don't make the ALCS?

Dave Sheinin: Uh... unless you mean "in relief," you seem to be a little misinformed. Torre skipped over Mussina, and will bring back Wang on three days' rest -- a move, incidentally, that Mussina endorsed last night.

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Washington, D.C.: Is there any way we can stage an intervention to stop Paul Byrd from pitching tonight? He stands no chance. I don't care what the numbers say about 3 days rest, you roll the dice on Game 5 like that.

Dave Sheinin: This is a great point, and one I was hoping someone would make. I hate the decision to pitch Byrd in Game 4. Absolutely hate it. If you're the Indians, you have two of the best pitchers in the league on your staff, and you need to win one of the next two games -- duh! You throw your best pitchers. It seems like Eric Wedge is looking ahead to Game 1 of the ALCS, and wanting to save Carmona for that one.

I know it might sound contradictory to support Piniella's move in Game 1, in which he essentially looked ahead to Game 4 by yanking Zambrano in favor of Marmol. But here's the key difference: Marmol is a stud, and Piniella had every reason to think that guy would shut down the D'backs for two innings, if not more. Whereas Byrd is going to get crushed, and everybody knows it.

Barry Svrluga: All of a sudden, this thing really feels like it's headed back to Cleveland, doesn't it?

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Boston: What does David Ortiz have to do to make the Hall of Fame? Does multiple years of playoff excellence make up for a shorter period of regular season dominance? Are there any precedents with a similar background in the Hall right now? Same question for Schilling?

Barry Svrluga: Here are Ortiz's stats with Minnesota, from 1997-2002: 455 G, 1,477 AB, 58 HR, 238 RBI, .266/.348/.461. That's a six-season stretch in which he was basically a part-time player with part-time production. He never hit more than 20 homers in a year. Six seasons is a looooooong time to be pedestrian if you're a Hall of Famer.

Here are Ortiz's stats with Boston, from 2003-07: 737 G, 2,738 AB, 208 HR, 642 RBI, .302/.402/.612. His lowest homer total with the Red Sox is 31, and he's averaged 41 a year.

Here are Ortiz's postseason numbers: 41 G, 150 AB, 10 HR, 35 RBI, .320/.417/.600.

The point is this: Ortiz, who will turn 32 in November, doesn't have enough of a dominant postseason resume - yet - to have that trump a lot of mediocre years with the Twins to make him a Hall of Famer. Someone like Jim Rice sustained his excellence for a lot longer in Boston, yet he's not in the Hall of Fame.

That said, is there a more feared postseason hitter right now? Yikes.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Dave, I supported the Marmol switch too. Now somebody explain to me how it held down the Cubs' own run scoring.

Dave Sheinin: Very, very weird how the Cubs' bats shut down. I mean, they're getting manhandled by Livan Hernandez! As much as we all love Livo, myself included, he ain't exactly Bob Gibson out there.

Barry Svrluga: Soriano: 2 for 14, 0 RBI, 0 extra-base hits

Derrek Lee: 4 for 12, 0 RBI, 0 extra-base hits

Aramis Ramirez: 0 for 12, 0 RBI, 0 extra-base hits

That darn Piniella!

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Alexandria, Va.: There is really no question that Boston dominated the Angels both with hitting and pitching. How much was due to the Angels' injuries and how much was Boston regaining some of its dominating play from earlier in the season? What impact will the apparent resurgence of Manny and David Ortiz mean for Boston for the rest of the series? Which team -- Cleveland or NY -- would pose a bigger threat to Boston reaching the WS?

Barry Svrluga: I'll let Dave, who covered Games 1 and 2 on this, chime in on most of this. But I will say that when I arrived for Game 3 of this series yesterday in Anaheim, I was taken aback by the feeble nature of the Angels' lineup. This team has the resources, and it needs to go out and get someone to help Vlad Guerrero. Once Garret Anderson left the game with his eye problem, the Angels had almost no hope of scoring. Witness: Schilling issuing a four-pitch walk to Vlad (one of the unintentional-intentional variety) to LOAD THE BASES, knowing he could easily retire Reggie Willits, who followed.

Dave Sheinin: Once the Angels lost Gary Matthews Jr. for the series, it was over. Their offense was totally exposed, especially with Garret Anderson ailing/unavailable. So don't get too excited yet about the Red Sox sweeping them so easily. Their next opponent, whether Cleveland or New York, will be much more formidable.

The way Phil Hughes pitched for the Yankees' last night, it changed the entire complexion of that rotation. If they somehow make it to the ALCS, with Hughes starting in Game 1, watch out.

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Bowie, Md.: Dang, dang, dang why didn't the Yanks get swept. Dang.

Thank you.

Barry Svrluga: A large part of it had to do with Trot Nixon allowing an RBI single to get by him, allowing two more runs to score, didn't it, Dave?

Dave Sheinin: For Red Sox fans, it must have been a weird feeling, seeing the Yankees win a huge game largely because of two ex-Sox -- Nixon and Damon.

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Boston: Did the Sox decision to force the Yankees to play a 7 day series (in order to make it more difficult on Joba, et. al.) come back to bite them now that Cleveland decided not to pitch Sabathia on 3 days rest?

Dave Sheinin: I could be wrong, but I always felt the Red Sox's decision to play the eight-day series was strictly self-serving -- allowing them to go with a three-man rotation, for one thing, and also keeping relievers like Okajima and Papelbon (who have required careful observation this season) fresher. I don't think they did it to penalize the Yankees.

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Washington, D.C.: Predictions on who is managing the Yankees next season? Torre? Girardi? Mattingly? Maybe if this whole president thing doesn't work out, Giuliani could be available.

Dave Sheinin: My prediction is Mattingly. Especially given how assertive Steinbrenner apparently is these days. He has wanted to axe Torre for a long time. And Mattingly is his guy. If it were up to the Yankees' baseball operations folks (i.e. Brian Cashman), I think it would be Girardi. But I don't think it's going to be up to them.

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Tribe fan in Fallujah: Okay, the Yankees could still come back, but I was surprised to hear that they had been heavily favored to win this series. Indians have a powerful 1-2 pitching punch in Sabathia and Carmona and I'd take their batting order, top to bottom, over that of the Yanks.

Dave Sheinin: Hey, thanks for writing in from Fallujah. I won't argue about Sabathia and Carmona. I thought when the postseason began, they were the best 1-2 combo in the playoff field. But I take issue with your assertion about the respective lineups. The Yankees scored 968 runs this season, with a team OPS of .829. The Indians scored 811 with an OPS of .771. It's really not even close.

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Alexandria, Va.: Hi fellas, thanks for taking questions.

With all the requirements regarding equipment, it seems the bats are being made flimsier and flimsier. I've never seen so many broken bats -- what's the deal? Someone could get killed.

Barry Svrluga: A lot of guys have switched to maple bats, and they seem to shatter a lot more easily than the old, more traditional ash bats. But you're right. I was in a pressbox with Boz sometime recently (last week in Philly, maybe) and he said, "Remind me in the spring, if not before, to write the 'someone's going to get killed by a bat before too long' column I've been thinking about for two years."

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Reston, Va.: I think it serves the Phillies right to have been swept. They celebrated the NL East clinching like it was they had won the World Series. I was disgusted by Brett Myers throwing his glove up in the air like he did. It was despicable.

Barry Svrluga: I don't think that was disgusting at all. Given that they were seven games back with roughly two weeks to go, a celebration seemed appropriate. It had been 14 years since the Phils had been to the postseason, and in that kind of sports town, celebrating was kind of a release/relief.

But what do I know? My four series predictions in this space last week: Phils over Rox, Cubs over DBacks, Yanks over Indians, Sox over Angels. I suppose I could still go 2-2.

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Mt. Lebanon, Pa.: Home field advantage doesn't seem to matter that much in the playoffs this year, if ever. Joe Torre opined recently that starting pitching was his biggest concern. I don't know if he was referring to his team in specific or to all the teams in general. Others, not necessarily managers, have spoken on the success of the bullpen.

What's your take on the biggest advantage to the five teams still in contention. Taking their strengths (e.g., youth) or handicaps (e.g., youth) into consideration, naturally.

I nominate sudden appearance of buggy flying creatures as the secret weapon of the year.

Thanks much.

Barry Svrluga: I would vote for starting pitching first, then the back end of the bullpen second. In all the games I've seen, starting pitching has been key: Francis over Hamels in the first game of Col-Philly, then Charlie Manuel's quick hook on Kyle Kendrick in Game 2 because he was so unsure of him, then Carmona's ridiculously good performance (overshadowed by the bugs) in the Yanks-Indians Game 2 (in which Pettitte was also spectacular), followed by a very good outing by Ubaldo Jimenez (against a game Jamie Moyer), followed by Schilling's gem yesterday.

If you have a starter who can get you to the eighth, and then you have a nails bullpen (Okajima/Papelbon, Chamberlain/Rivera, Fuentes/Corpas, Pena/Lyon/Valverde) then you've got a great shot.

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Washington, D.C.: Does Cashman have to worry about his job if the Yankees lose this series? He's done a great job the last few years, especially his scouting department. Hate to see a new guy come in there and sell off the young talent for big names.

Dave Sheinin: I think Brian ALWAYS has to worry for his job. But he's less in danger than Torre, because for one thing, he's under contract for next year. But also, Steinbrenner has allowed him to install his plan for the organization, based on building around young pitching, and even Steinbrenner, as results-oriented as he is, understands it is a process.

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Caffeine Hall of Fame: Which of you will make it here first? When did you feel the most physically dreadful?

Barry Svrluga: Sheinin's got the edge on me here, I think. He goes for more of those triple-shot lattes. I tend to order just venti coffees, though two in a day is not unusual.

Plus, he's still on the road. I'm sitting in my living room. That makes a big difference.

Dave Sheinin: Yeah, sometimes (like when I have a 7 a.m. flight after a game that ends at 1 a.m.) I hit for the caffeine cycle during the course of a day -- a single, double, triple and quadruple latte.

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It's really not even close: I don't know, up 2 to 1 looks pretty close. The Yanks can't win it in the Bronx!

Still have to travel to the Mistake on the Lake (Cleveland).

Dave Sheinin: I was talking strictly about the quality of lineups, top to bottom, as the chatter in Fallujah was arguing.

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Triangle, Va.: Your thoughts on the NLCS, aka Turner's biggest nightmare? I think it's going to be fascinating, even if few pay attention. By the way, who on your staff drew the short straw and will have to cover it instead of seeing Evil Empire II vs. Cleveland or Evil Empire I in the ALCS?

Barry Svrluga: I'll be at the NLCS, and believe me, I don't consider it the short straw. Yes, interest won't be as high as for Sox-Tribe or, god help us all, Sox-Yanks. Won't even be close. But I think there's something to be said for introducing a bunch of basically anonymous characters to the country.

Jeff Francis is an outstanding young left-hander who very few people have seen. I don't even think most of the country realizes how good this Rockies lineup is, with the right-left-right-left combo of Holliday-Helton-Atkins-Hawpe, not to mention Tulowtizki, who is one impressive young player. For Arizona, Webb's sinker is just an unbelievable pitch, and any team with Chris Young and Justin Upton -- two budding stars -- is worth writing about.

I find it intriguing, and I think it could go seven. I just hope other people agree.

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Slow Pitchers: Although I've watched these three for their entire careers, how do slop-ballers Livan Hernandez, Doug Davis, and Jamie Moyer consistently retire major league hitters?

Is hitting these two just a matter of patience? Is it difficult to face a 90+ MPH pitch one day and then slow, slower and slowest the next? How did these guys ever get noticed by a scout? Are there young guys in the minors who could pitch like this?

Barry Svrluga: In the case of Hernandez -- as Dave well knows, having covered the early part of his career in Florida -- he used to bring it a lot harder.

I will say this, though: It was striking watching Moyer face Ubaldo Jimenez the other night. Moyer's best fastball that I saw was clocked at 82 mph. That, literally, was the speed of Jimenez's change-up.

But it goes to show you that location and changing speeds is far more important than sheer velocity. I sat in the dugout this year with a few Nationals discussing whether, if they knew it was coming, they could hit a 110-mph fastball. The consensus was yes, if it was straight. But make it move, even a little, and you've got a problem.

Dave Sheinin: The great thing about Livan -- though not only him -- is that he almost never throws two pitches at the same velocity back-to-back. You simply can't get comfortable up there. Where he gets into trouble is when he falls behind and has to throw fastballs -- and hitters know it. But that's true of almost anyone.

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Poor Cousin: What are the main reasons that teams with $50 million budgets can compete and beat teams whose budgets are close to $200 million?

Barry Svrluga: Scouting and player development. Scouting and player development. Scouting and player development.

Whoa, started to sound like Stan Kasten there for a minute.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Nice interpretation: The Yankees stopped pressing.

Nasty interpretation: Westbrook lost it.

Well?

Dave Sheinin: Frankly, given the Yankees' talent, that was pretty much the outcome that was supposed to occur. Struggling against Fausto Carmona was one thing -- that guy is ridiculously good. But Jake Westbrook? The Yankees are supposed to crush guys like that, and eventually they did.

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Dunn Loring: What are the chances Mussina will pitch at all? And who would start a Game 5 for the Torre-men?

Thanks much!

Dave Sheinin: Mussina is Chien-Ming Wang's "backup" in Game 4 -- which means he would be the guy to come in if Wang falters early on. As for Game 5, it would be Pettitte on regular four days' rest.

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Reston, Va.: Any chance Lou Piniella's job is in jeopardy?

Dave Sheinin: Can't imagine that it is. He's under contract at big bucks for a couple more years, for one thing. For another thing, he did manage the Cubs to the division title. One backfired move -- and again, I don't think it was a mistake -- in the postseason hardly qualifies as a firable offense. Well, at least outside of New York.

Barry Svrluga: The offseason is going to be kind of interesting for the Cubs, who are in the process of being sold. Will Jim Hendry's hands be tied because of that process?

I agree with Sheinin, though: Piniella's not going anywhere because of one move.

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Harrisburg, Pa.: Are people still slow to credit Rockies hitters because of the Coors Field perception? I feel like they still aren't being recognized for what good hitters they are.

Also, you may call me as a bitter Orioles fan with nothing better to do, but if the umps can hold off on a rain delay until Jeter can drive the go-ahead run in the 8th, the precious Yanks can play through some bugs.

Barry Svrluga: Yes, I think the perception that the Rockies score a lot of runs comes from the fact that they still play at Coors -- even though the use of a humidor, in which they store the balls, has helped keep the ball in the park a lot more frequently. And I am a big supporter of the Rockies' lineup, which, as I said, has a number of excellent hitters in it.

That said, here are the Rockies' splits:

Home: .298/.372/.480, 103 HR

Away: .261/.336/.395, 68 HR

That's pretty dramatic.

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Mt. Lebanon, Pa.: Any word from the grounds crew at Jacobs about what they're doing to remove flying critters should the series have to return there?

I suppose someone must have asked them about it.

Thanks much.

Barry Svrluga: Really, it was just a 40-minute infestation. They were largely gone by the end of the game.

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Boston: What about Schill for the Hall? Does his mouth kill what would be a borderline Hall call?

Barry Svrluga: I'd be interested in Sheinin's take on this. I am not, currently, a believer that Schilling is a Hall of Famer (and yes, I think his mouth will hurt him in this regard).

His numbers: 216-146 (78 pitchers have more wins), 3.46 ERA, 3,116 strikeouts (14th all-time), six-time all-star, never won a Cy Young or ERA title.

In his favor: In 16 postseason appearances, he's 9-2 with a 1.93 ERA. Man, that's stout.

Dave?

Dave Sheinin: Yeah, I agree. In my mind, he's not even a borderline candidate. I mean, he's got fewer wins than Jamie Moyer and David Wells, and just barely more than Kenny Rogers. I tend to compare players to their peers, and Schilling simply isn't in the same class as Clemens, Maddux, Martinez (lowest ERA among active pitchers -- 2.80), Randy Johnson, Smoltz and Glavine.

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Bruce Froemming: Word is that he is slated to ump the World Series, behind the plate for games 1 and 7. Which is a shame because -- forgetting about the midge-fest -- the guy, while probably a HOF umpire, has lost it. His strike zone is all over the place and the World Series is no place for umpire nostalgia, even if Bud Selig is a close friend--thoughts?

Dave Sheinin: I covered Game 1 of Yankees/Indians, with Froemming behind the plate, and his strike zone was -- shall we say -- atrocious. I would support anyone who argues he does not belong behind the plate anymore. It's nice that MLB is doing so much for a guy with 50 years' experience who is retiring after this year. But you can't let it affect the game on the field, and having Froemming behind the plate, I'm afraid, would do that.

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Arlington, Va.: We were just one win away from all four series ending in a sweep. Has that every happened before?

Barry Svrluga: No it has not. I was looking at some other stuff yesterday, and had Eric Gagne (easy now, Red Sox fans) not given up a run in the ninth, the Sox would have been just the second team (1999 Yanks being the other, I believe) to have two shutouts in the same division series.

Speaks again to the Angels' lack of offense, I believe.

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ESPN, Connecticut: Dave/Barry:

Hmmm... Interesting name combination! Anyway, is there any chance you two can make this a regular feature and recreate the atmosphere of the old Chat House with Wilbon and Kornheiser? I'm convinced that the original Chat House is what ultimately led those guys to PTI. You two should give it a try!

Barry Svrluga: Wow, Dave/Barry. The only thing that would be better is if our names were "Gene" and "Weingarten."

This combo (Sabathia/Carmona? Beckett/Dice-K?) will be together through the playoffs, but I imagine we'll have some separate chats over the winter and going into next year.

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McLean, Va.: Gentlemen, I keep hearing about how great Carmona is and granted his stats and Game 2 performance were pretty legit. But what I keep thinking of his June outing at RFK when the Nats hit him pretty well and knocked him out of the game. Was that just a fluke outing that he's improved on? Or is is not quite as impervious as we've been led to believe?

Thanks for you're great work guys, I look forward to the rest of this partnership throughout the playoffs!

Dave Sheinin: I don't know what to tell you, except that if you watched Game 2, in which Carmona absolutely dominated the best offense in the game, you'd know how awesome it was. Great pitchers lose to weak offenses sometimes. If it could be explained, baseball would not be the great game it is.

Barry Svrluga: I talked to several Nats about that outing -- in which he gave up 10 hits and three runs in six innings -- and the consensus was that he is ridiculously good. One way hitters measure a pitcher is how "comfortable" an at-bat is, and they said the at-bats against Carmona were not comfortable at all. Doesn't mean you won't have success. Just means you're not sure of yourself standing in there.

Watch this guy develop. He might have the best stuff in the AL outside of King Felix in Seattle.

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Let's go (g)nats!: Happy Indians fan with a general baseball question: A baseball-hating friend who loves track and football insists that speed isn't important in baseball. I point to base running, stolen bases, working the outfield, etc. But he says that since baseball is all about statistics, if speed is meaningful to the sport, there will be a stat specifically to measure it. So, is there one?

And re the "gnats" during the Tribe win over the Yankees (sweet!): Clevelanders call them Canadian Soldiers. They're actually midges, and they don't bite but are pretty annoying. They recently reappeared after 40-50 years since Lake Erie is getting healthier. So bad news for the Yankees is good news for the Great Lakes.

Barry Svrluga: First, I'd love to know the stat in football that measure speed. Touchdown catches? Interceptions returned for a touchdown? Please.

Anyone who has watched any baseball at all knows speed is an important tool. And while stolen bases are a decent measure of a guy's speed, they don't begin to tell the whole story. Can you be successful without it? Absolutely. But watch some of the guys left in these playoffs, and tell me speed isn't a factor. Grady Sizemore, Justin Upton, Kaz Matsui, Chris Young. I don't care how you measure it, but offensively and defensively, speed is a weapon.

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Great Falls, Va.: There was a Tom Verducci piece (scroll down) on the Internet a week or two ago, entitled "Mitchell Investigation Has Got the Goods." In it, Verducci quoted an unnamed source to say that Sen. Mitchell's investigation has exceeded all expectations in terms of coming up with names of steroid users. The source said that the names were across the spectrum, including small time players, big stars and "legends."

My initial reaction was: enjoy the postseason while we can, since baseball is about to get tainted yet again.

Beyond that, I've been reflecting on the use of the word legend. Let's say the steroid era ran from 1994 to 2006. How many players during that era could you possibly label as a legend? I can't come up with 10 no matter how hard I try. And from that list, I can't escape the (speculative) conclusion that Sen. Mitchell's legendary user may have made his final start last night.

Dave Sheinin: Well, this is getting into a very subjective, personal area -- where your own individual view of morality and fairness have to guide you. I know writers who discard the steroids issue completely when voting for the Hall of Fame and other honors. He voted for McGwire, for instance, and his reasoning was that we have no idea who used and who didn't, so trying to classify everyone as "good" or "bad" was pointless. So in his view, you have to treat everyone the same. You have to assume everyone was dirty, and McGwire was simply one of the dominant players of this dirty era.

I don't quite hold the same views.

Barry Svrluga: Which brings up an interesting point that Sheinin and I have discussed before. The idea of writers holding the power of the Hall of Fame -- or even MVP and Cy Young awards -- over players is really touchy. You're asking journalists, many of whom are beat writers and not columnists, to make an ultimate, opinion-laden judgment about a guy's career. This was true even without the issue of steroids, but it's even murkier now. I would think there would be some writers who would/should be uncomfortable about being arbiters in this situation.

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re Bugs: Though Chamberlain gets the wild pitch because the ball was out of the strike zone, I thought Posada really should have blocked those balls. I give him as much blame as the bugs, and more than Chamberlain. He always had a reputation as a suspect catcher, and had gone a long ways to fight off that rep. In my book, the label is back on.

Barry Svrluga: Yes, one of those inside pitches should probably have been blocked. My point was that the kid really has been good at hitting his spots, and when the bugs got involved, he couldn't.

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Shrewsbury, Mass.: So Pettite and Clemens should have retired in Houston??

Don't see much future for either of them unless they want to become managers.

Clemens used to coach his kid at TCU (Forth Worth, Texas - for those geographically handicapped). Maybe he can go full-time.

Thanks.

Dave Sheinin: Well, wait a second... Pettitte pitched pretty darned well in Game 2. He's still got some life left in that arm. As for Clemens, he actually is already committed to working for the Astros in an unspecified capacity under a personal-services contract he has already signed.

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Bronx, N.Y.: Dave, Barry,

What are the chances the Yanks blow it up and "rebuild" this offseason? Seems like a lot of pieces could be gone no matter what (ARod, Rivera, Posada, Clemens) and they could get rid of several more (Torre, Damon, Abreu, Giambi?). That's a lot to overcome even for the Boss.

Dave Sheinin: Very good question. In some regards, the Yankees have already "blown it up." In past seasons, kids like Hughes and Chamberlain would have never gotten the chances they did this year -- in fact, they would have been traded away for the new flavor of the month. There has been a change in the Yankees' philosophy, going back to Brian Cashman's assumption of full power last year.

Now, I believe the Yankees will pick up Abreu's option for 2008. But I think they could trade Damon. (To where? How about Washington?) I also think A-Rod will wind up staying, but he'll get $30 million per year. I think Rivera will stay, but Posada will walk.

As for Clemens, this time I think he's really, truly done.

Barry Svrluga: The change in the Yankees' philosophy was felt at the trade deadline the past two years. The Nationals would have been happy to take players such as Hughes/Chamberlain/Tabata and others off the Yankees hands in exchange for a Soriano or bullpen help, but they, like everyone in baseball, were told that those players were untouchable.

Not only should that help keep the Yankees' payroll in control -- letting them land the marquee free agents that will replace the current high-price stars -- but it will affect the entire sport, because teams like the Yankees and Red Sox won't just automatically overpay for established stars.

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Foggy Bottom: No question here, Dave and Barry. Just a very sincere thank you for the terrific work you've done over the entire season and continue to do during the playoffs. It's a pleasure to read you both.

Dave Sheinin: I couldn't let this hour go by without publishing this comment. Thanks!

Barry Svrluga: Thanks Foggy Bottom. It's a ton of fun providing the coverage, believe me.

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Dave Sheinin: Folks, I have to go catch the D train out to Yankee Stadium -- and then it's either home tomorrow, or back to Cleveland for Game 5 on Wednesday. Enjoy the rest of the postseason. And thanks again for dropping by.

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Silver Spring, Md.: What do you think are Girardi's prospects, assuming Torre steps (or is shoved) aside?

Given his issues with Jeffrey Loria, how would Girardi fare with Big Baby George?

Barry Svrluga: This is a very interesting question. I thought of Girardi for the Mets' job had Randolph been fired, but that didn't happen. You have to wonder if the window has closed for him -- or will close before there's a job he wants. I'm with Sheinin: From what I've heard from people who have talked to Torre about it, Mattingly is the guy being groomed for the Yanks' job -- and he's doing it from the bench, not from the TV booth.

Girardi: No to Nats, no to O's. What's left?

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Barry Svrluga: Hey folks, thanks so much for joining us. Make sure you check out Dave's coverage of Yanks-Indians in tomorrow's $.35 edition. I'll have a Red Sox piece, then will shift my attention back to the NL.

Enjoy the games.

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