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Tuesday, Oct. 2 at Noon ET

Major League Baseball

Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 2, 2007; 12:00 PM

Washington Post national baseball writer Dave Sheinin was online Thursday, Oct. 2, at noon ET to take your questions and comments from around the major leagues.

A transcript follows.

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Discussion Archive

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Dave Sheinin: Hey, folks. Welcome to our baseball chat, on the eve of the playoffs. Lots of great theater over the weekend -- between the Mets' collapse, the Phillies' amazing run (with an assist from the Nationals), and the wild Padres/Rockies one-game playoff last night. (Is it just me, or does it seem like Trevor Hoffman has blown every single important save in his career?) Anyway, lots of questions today, so I'll dispense with the usual chat-starter topic, and dive right in...

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Fair Lakes, Va.: Dave,

What's up with MLB having all these first-round games on TBS? Don't they realize that 1/4 of the population does not have cable access? Can you point me to a schedule that shows when some of the games might show up on broadcast TV? Thanks.

Dave Sheinin: What's up with games on TBS? Take a guess -- that's right, it's money. TBS was the highest bidder. If you don't have cable or satellite, you're out of luck until the LCS. Here's the schedule, including TV: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/schedule/ps_07.jsp

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Arlington Nats Fan: After watching arguably the two playoff teams least likely to make it to the World Series (Cards & Tigers) last year reverse course and defy all expectations, do you really have any confidence making predictions for this October?

Dave Sheinin: None whatsoever. I mean, there is absolutely no criterion for predicting playoff success that has held up over the years. The Cardinals alone destroyed about four different theories. Bottom line is, it's essentially a crapshoot. Whoever happens to play their best ball in October, wins. That's not much of an analysis, but it's the truth.

However, in my job, I'm required to make picks, so I'll say Yankees over Rockies.

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Ardwick, Md.: Of all possible World Series match-ups, which holds the greatest chance for an NL victory?

Dave Sheinin: Oooh, good question. Obviously, the AL was once again vastly superior to the NL this season. But the Rockies are the hottest team in baseball over the past couple of weeks, and in a Rockies/Angels matchup, I might be tempted to take the Rockies.

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Hamilton, Va.: This may be of small consolation to no one, but I'm curious as to why the 2007 Mets' blowing a 7 game lead with 17 games to go is considered more of a collapse than the 1964 Phillies' blowing a 6 1/2 game lead with 12 games to go.

Dave Sheinin: Because it made for a better story! No, I hear what you're saying. In reality, the '64 Phillies' collapse was more acute.

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Fairfax, Va.: Can there be a worse MLB franchise than the Baltimore Orioles? Ten years of losing baseball. Angelos has got to go.. he and Dan Snyder have completely poisoned sports in this region.

Dave Sheinin: If there's a worse MLB franchise, I can't name it. This is going to be a HUGE offseason for the Orioles, with Andy MacPhail getting free reign over the baseball operations. Do you trade Tejada? Fire Flanagan and Duquett? Give up on Cabrera? Tear the whole thing down and start over? Sign an elite center fielder? There are million tough decisions.

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Ellicott City: Why didn't San Diego protest the last play of the game last night when Holliday clearly did not touch the plate. I know protesting calls usually doesn't work but this was a season-ending call, pretty important. I was not rooting for any team as I am an AL gal, but I hated to see such a good game end that way.

Dave Sheinin: Judgment calls such as that one can't be protested. If baseball had instant replay, would it have reversed that call? I don't think so -- the angles I saw were fairly inconclusive. All it would have done was delay the Rockies' celebration by five minutes, and made the whole thing seem so awkward.

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Section 524 at RFK: What should the Nats do with Dmitri Young? He's a fine hitter, but he's too slow even to play a decent first base. Doesn't he belong in the AL?

Dave Sheinin: Too late. They've already re-signed him for two more years. I thought it was a very curious move at the time, and I still do. The only explanation I could come up with is that the Nats are very pessimistic about Nick Johnson's return.

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Springfield, Va.: Dave, Joe Saunders (Halos) & Ryan Speier (Rox) both pitched for West Springfield High School. How about a feature? Thanx!

Dave Sheinin: Hey Springfield... I had a mini-feature on Saunders a few weeks ago on the MLB Sunday page, and we'll try to check in with Speier during the Division Series.

Let me know (sheinind@washpost.com) if you want me to send you the Saunders item.

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Baltimore: Given Leo Mazzone's amazing (to me) lack of success with Orioles' pitchers so far, it seems to me that Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz were responsible for his success in Atlanta, rather than the other way around. Do you concur? Thanks.

Dave Sheinin: Absolutely. And it's not as if people in Atlanta (and elsewhere) didn't already know that.

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TBS: The past several years, many playoff games were on ESPN, which is also cable-only, so it's not a new thing.

I thought last night's TBS broadcast was pretty well done. And frankly, the fewer games on Fox, the better, as far as I'm concerned.

Dave Sheinin: I agree with you about Fox. I can't stand their productions.

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A-Rod: You're picking us over the Rockies? Does that mean you think we can win in spite of the fact that I will be doing my usual October choke?

Dave Sheinin: Many stats geeks will argue that there is no such thing as "clutch" performance, good or bad. There are only random statistical fluctuations. In the case of A-Rod, however, I fully disagree. It has definitely gotten into his head during the past few postseasons. Is there reason to think it will be different this year? Well, he had arguably the greatest season of his career, and is at the peak of his performance. We'll see. I don't feel extremely confident in picking the Yankees.

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Crofton, Md.: Can this finally be the Cubs' year to make it to the World Series? I assume the AL team will be heavily favored, but maybe they can be this year's Cardinals!

Dave Sheinin: I sure hope so. In general, I root for the best story -- and nothing would be better than the Cubs in the World Series.

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T. Hoffman: You know, Byung-Hyun Kim pitches for the Rockies. I was just trying to make him feel better.

Dave Sheinin: That's awfully kind of you, Trevor.

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Washington, D.C.: What is your impression of the job Omar Minaya has done with the Mets? I feel like he is somewhat overrated considering the payroll flexibility allowed them just to assume contracts to fill holes when needed. Plus, I don't know if I can ever get over the Colon deal from when he was the GM of the MLB-owned Expos. Just imagine Grady Sizemore patrolling center field in RFK instead of Nook Logan!

Dave Sheinin: Well, putting aside the Sizemore/Colon trade (very, very different circumstances)... I think Omar made two critical mistakes this year -- not acquiring enough pitching (both starters and relievers), and not paying enough attention to the makeup of the team. I simply believe the Mets were not tough enough, not ornery enough, not hungry enough. They didn't have enough players who are "dirt balls." A team tends to take on the personality of its biggest stars, and Jose Reyes (and to a lesser extent David Wright) can be a little aloof.

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Washington, D.C.: I think the first move the Orioles need to make is to lock up Erik Bedard long-term. This season, he showed that he is legitimately the second best pitcher in the AL behind Johan Santana. Everything else is secondary. What are some possible destinations for Tejada though? His defense is sub-par no matter what he says and his bat has slowed considerably.

Dave Sheinin: Great point on Bedard. The sooner, the better. As for Tejada, off the top of my head... he'd look pretty good as the Angels' third baseman. Or maybe the Dodgers.

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Rockville, Md.: Who wins, the hot Phillies or the hot Rockies?

Dave Sheinin: I gotta go with the Rockies. I just don't see how the Phillies are going to piece together 27 outs a game with that pitching staff, Cole Hamels excluded.

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Red Sox Nation in Washington, D.C.: Hi, Dave, what a year it's been. The Mets imitating the Red Sox, the Phillies imitating the Mets, and the NL West trying to give the wild card away. And what happened to the Tigers? You were right some time ago in saying the Red Sox would hold on, and I still fear the Yankees more than anyone (you picked them to win it all). That's like an instinctive fear of snakes, I think.

Will you and your colleagues be covering the playoffs and Series, or will we be getting wire service reports?

Dave Sheinin: Barry Svrluga and I will be covering the entire postseason, with Tom Boswell checking in from time to time. I'll be in Boston for tomorrow's Game 1, and Barry will be in Philly.

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Anchorage, Alaska: I'd like to raise a fund for Nats and Orioles fans to have a big bbq someplace so they can watch the World Series on a giant screen TV. Free food, drinks, kite flying, and great baseball games.

In return for that, they get off the basebll chat sessions until next year.

There's baseball being played in America in the postseason but not in the greater Washington area.

Get over it.

Thank you all.

Dave Sheinin: Wow... I thought you Alaskans were supposed to be laid-back.

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J. Beckett: Sabathia over me for Cy Young? Huh? I was huge in big games (i.e., winning after a loss). He's just huge period.

Dave Sheinin: This was a very close race, in my mind. But with most of the other stats equal, I went with Sabathia because he pitched roughly an inning more per start than Beckett did. That's a huge difference.

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Clutch This: A-Rod in the postseason: .280/.362/.485

Can't we just all agree that the last couple of playoff series are just too small a sample size to make any such judgments for or against A-Rod?

Dave Sheinin: That's what I'm talking about when I bring up the stats-geek viewpoint.

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South Bend, Ind.: I remember back in 2002 when the A's played the Twins in the ALDS. Those games were aired on ABC Family or something like that. ESPN wouldn't even show them. How sad MLB has fallen so far. Will there ever be more than the weekly Saturday afternoon FOX game (which is usually just the Yankees, Red Sox, or Mets) on national TV again?

Dave Sheinin: MLB will sell its broadcast rights to the highest bidder, and if that's ESPN or TBS or Fox or The Playboy Channel (well, maybe not that one), so be it.

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Washington, D.C.:"I'll be in Boston for tomorrow's Game 1, and Barry will be in Philly."

The benefits of seniority, huh?

Dave Sheinin: Well, I won't lie to you and say I didn't pick that one, but it also makes sense in that Barry covered an NL East team all year long and probably saw the Phillies 15-16 times.

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Seattle: Agree with your assessment on Trevor Hoffman, and saw it coming last night. But, Holliday never touched the plate. He was out! Do we need instant relay? For the playoffs?

Dave Sheinin: As I said earlier, I doubt replay would have overturned that call -- too inconclusive -- and would have only served to make the end of the game feel awkward. I say no to instant replay.

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E. Bedard: Yeah, the Orioles should lock me up but why in the world would you think I want to stay in Baltimore?

Dave Sheinin: Honestly, I can't imagine why. But money talks, doesn't it?

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Arlington, Va.: So would you like to see the Cubs vs Red Sox in the series ?

Dave Sheinin: That would be a great story.

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Chicago Cubicle: Paul Sullivan of the Tribune wrote on his blog today that TBS needs Sir Charles to spice things up.

I agree!

I mean, I worship Cal and everything he did, but snooze...

Dave Sheinin: I tend to agree with you about Cal. I rememeber thinking when he signed on with TBS that he never struck me as the talking-head type. Sir Charles would be nice. Too bad the Diamondbacks are in the playoffs -- I thought Eric Byrnes was really good on last year's broadcasts.

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Frustrated Phillies fan: What's up with starting the two Phillies playoff games at 3pm?? On a weekday!! I see what they're trying to do. i.e. minimize overlap in games. But seriously, why not have the start times be something like 5 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 10 p.m.

I'll have to merely either listen to the game, or take the afternoon off.

Dave Sheinin: Again, the answer is money. TBS wants the highest-rated games in prime time, which means Yankees and Red Sox. Sorry.

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UP-AND-IN: This is old news but...Do you really think the Brewers should have gotten so much criticism for hitting Pujols last Wednesday?

They're losing 3-2 in the top of the eighth with 1 out. I think you probably pitch around Pujols in this situation. What's wrong with making a statement? Isn't this a classic case of second-guessing?

Dave Sheinin: The perception was that the Brewers were putting retaliation above playing to win.

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Chantilly, Va.: why are people complaining about games being on TBS? That's a very well known cable station for sports, and it's on nearly every cable and satellite system. Remember the year some playoff games were on the Disney Channel, or maybe even Disney 2? Now that I have three-year-old twins, I actually know where those channels are, but still...

Great story for you: I am a die-hard Red Sox fan. When the Sox won the WS in 2004, I had one of my twins (then three months old) sleeping on my lap. But I can't remember which one! And I'm glad I can't.

Dave Sheinin: Great story.

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Bethesda, Md.: Hi Dave,

I'm a big fan of your work.

How strange to watch Glavine and Hoffman implode ... you'd think all they have to draw on would prevent the performances they turned in ... and if you're SD, how do you deal with knowing Holliday was out?!?

I respectfully disagree with your WS pick ... Papelbon, Okajima, Dice, Schilling, Manny and even Drew have all righted themselves for the postseason ... thanks!

Dave Sheinin: You make a great point about the Red Sox. That swoon they had in early September is definitely over. They're probably the healthiest team and the deepest team heading into the playoffs. Hard to argue against anyone picking them to win it all.

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Arlington Nats Fan: So who is your player "that comes from nowhere to be a hero" this postseason? Any good candidates?

Dave Sheinin: Hmmm. Since I picked the Yankees... I'll go with either Joba Chamberlain (he could be this year's version of K-Rod in 2002) or Shelley Duncan.

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M. Holliday: Two points:

1. Thanks for not voting for me for MVP in your postseason awards.

2. Tell everyone to stop whining about whether I touched home plate. Did he tag me? No. I call that even.

Dave Sheinin: The NL MVP pick is the toughest one I can ever remember. In my mind, it was essentially a four-way tie between David Wright, Jimmy Rollins, Prince Fielder and Holliday. I don't have a problem with folks who went with Holliday. Great player, great season. But his home/road splits show a pretty huge discrepancy, and (as we saw again last night) he's a very ordinary defensive player at a non-premium position. I went with Rollins because, outside of his very impressive numbers (the 20-20-20-20 thing), he is also a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop and (as I wrote) arguably the best clubhouse leader in the game.

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Medford, Mass.: Re: Sabathia vs. Beckett

Given their teams respective bullpens, doesn't it make sense that Beckett would come out of the game sooner? For most of the year he only had to get to 7 innings and turn it over to Okie and Papelbon.

washingtonpost.com: And if the Indians had hit better in July and early August, CC would have 21-22 wins...(and it's not like the Red Sox guys are better than Cleveland's. Closer, that is a different story.)

Dave Sheinin: That's a little chime-in there from Paul, our fabulous producer of these chats, and (obviously) a huge Indians fan.

As for your question, I don't buy it. You know, the Indians' bullpen is highly underrated. Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez might be the best RH/LH set-up combo in the entire majors, and for all his ugly numbers Joe Borowski has been a very effective closer.

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Arlington, Va.: For those without TBs or are stuck at work during the games, I believe MLB.com offers a postseason package where you can watch all the games online. I'd hate for anyone to miss the Red Sox winning it all this year!

Dave Sheinin: Thanks for that suggestion.

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Pedro: The irony of it all is that I came back in September and pitched very well (3-1, 2.57). At the very least, you should have given my props for your awards.

Dave Sheinin: No doubt, I would have loved to have watched Pedro Martinez pitching in October.

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re Anchorage, Alaska: Dave,

I guess I need to apologize for asking a Nats question. I just assumed it would be okay considering IT'S THE WASHINGTON POST!!

Thanks

washingtonpost.com: Well, to be fair, we do have a Nats-specific discussion every Wednesday. Not to say you can't ask a Nats (or O's or Bad News Bears for that matter...) question here.

Dave Sheinin: Yeah, our friend in Anchorage sounds bitter about something.

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Harrisburg, Pa.: I know this goes against all conventional wisdom, especially since the Padres were stumbling, but as a Phillies fan, I'm glad the Rockies won. I'd rather slug it out against Colorado than get shut down by the Padres pitching.

Dave Sheinin: That's an interesting point. A lot of people considered the Padres the team nobody wanted to face -- because of all that pitching. The Phillies and Rockies are actually quite similar, aren't they? Great lineups, bandbox stadiums, thin pitching staffs, etc. But I like the back end of the Rockies' bullpen a whole lot more than the Phillies'. And I'm very curious to see this Morales kid pitch in Game 2.

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D.C.:"why are people complaining about games being on TBS? That's a very well known cable station for sports, and it's on nearly every cable and satellite system."

Because there are a LOT of us without cable. Or satellite.

Yes, over-the-air only in 1/4 of the houses in this country, including those of baseball fans.

Dave Sheinin: Thanks for weighing in.

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Westcliffe, Colo.: Scenario: Yankees don't get to the World Series.

Does Steinbrenner explode into tiny little Georges?

And Smokey Joe Torre goes back into the sports booth?

I sure hope so!

Dave Sheinin: I think the fact the Yankees lost the division to the Red Sox puts the burden on Torre to have a stellar postseason to stave off the axe.

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Byung-Hyun Kim: Ummm, I finished the season with the Marlins, Trevor.

Dave Sheinin: Good point.

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1964 Phillies vs 2007 Mets: The talent levels of each team is not even close. The Mets were an eminently more talented team that spit the bit.

Dave Sheinin: Great point. And also the fact the Mets had the highest payroll in the NL.

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Washington, D.C.: You know, if you look at Hoffman's G/F ratio, K/9, and WHIP this year, he looks suspiciously like Joe Borowski and Chad Cordero. Now that Bonds is moving on, is Hoffman the next most appropriate/likely institution not to be invited back next year to his team? Who comes to mind? Stars, not Doug Mirabelli.

Dave Sheinin: Hoffman is under contract for next season (he had a vesting option that kicked in, based on games finished). And besides, there's no way the Padres kick him to the curb. They'd get killed in the media and the fan sites. As for a star who might not be back with his original team next year (excluding departing free agents), how about Johan Santana? I think there's a good chance the Twins will trade him this winter.

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Chicago: Here's the problem with TBS -- exclusivity. In past years, even if a game was on cable, they'd make an exception for the two teams' markets and put the games on local TV there as well. This year, for the first time, there's no way to watch your team other than on TBS. The Tribune had a piece today about how that shuts out half a million households in Chicago from being able to watch the Cubs. That's a lot of fans.

Dave Sheinin: Very interesting, Chicago. Thanks for the link.

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San Antonio: Will A-Rod's postseason batting average be higher than his regular season average? There's a case of Shiner Bock riding on this!

Dave Sheinin: I say yes.

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Atlanta: You're absolutely correct about Holliday. His home OPS is 300 points higher than his road OPS. But Rollins makes no sense. His OPS (.875) is way lower than those of the other top contenders and his on-base percentage (around .340) is especially unimpressive. The guy rarely walks. He's an exciting player, but he's no MVP.

Dave Sheinin: I figured I would get killed by the stats crowd for picking Rollins. I studied this up and down, and I understand all the statistical arguments against him. (In fact, you didn't even bring up VORP -- "value over replacement player," which is a very influential stat cooked up by baseballprospectus.com -- in which Rollins trails the other candidates by a wide margin.)

Rollins's "counting" stats (like HRs, runs, etc., as opposed to "rate" stats like OBP and OPS) are outstanding. Did you realize he had more total bases this year than A-Rod? He's a 30-30 guy.

But really, it goes beyond that. Stats folks hate the word "intangibles," but that's what pushed Rollins over the top in my calcalations.

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R. Clemens: Don't forget me. My groin is healed, now, and I can beat the Red Sox any day any time anywhere.

Dave Sheinin: Is that going to be an interesting start in Game 3, or what? I fully expect Roger to do his whole John Wayne thing -- being very vague about his health leading up to the start, talking about his duty to the team, limping out to the mound, etc. That's going to be some great theater at Yankee Stadium. I can't wait.

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Rockies Win!: Dave,

Thanks for the chat. Was last night's game, for statistical purposes, considered a 163rd regular season game for both teams, or a playoff game?

Dave Sheinin: It counts as a regular season game.

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A-Rod: You're absolutely right. I can hit anytime except for the post-season. Maybe I should sign with the Orioles so I won't have to deal with that problem.

Dave Sheinin: Ouch.

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Dave Sheinin: OK, folks. I'm out of time. Enjoy the postseason and we'll see you back here next time.

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