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54° Good Afternoon
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Cliff Lee, Mark Teixeira and the Rays

I have an early-morning flight, so real brief, and then we'll check in later today from Rangers Ballpark...

--At the Yankees' workout yesterday, I wrote about Cliff Lee, and how he looms over this ALCS even though he won't start until Game 3.

--This series is replete with great story lines, and one of them is Mark Teixeira's connection to the Rangers. It's not just that Teixeira began his career with Texas and became a star player there. It's that the Rangers' decision to trade him, back in 2007, sparked the massive rebuilding program that put them in this very series. 

--Here's the rest of our Yankees coverage

--The headline to this story on the Rays reads, "End of an era," and I understand what the virtually certain departure of Carl Crawford means to this franchise. He's the best and most popular player. I remember seeing him play as a rookie in 2002, and the hope that he inspired among the Rays' few fans. He lived up to that hope, and his team attained more than nearly anyone could have anticipated.

But if you think the Rays are going to fade away now, with their payroll set to be reduced, then you're just not paying attention. They have their entire starting rotation under control, and with Jeremy Hellickson seemingly ready to go, Tampa Bay could afford to shop one of its starters and try to get some offensive help., and Desmond Jennings might just replace Crawford internally.

--LIve chat Friday at 1:00.

--I'll check in later from Texas.

--UPDATE, 5:23 p.m. CDT: I'm not putting up a new post because 1) I'm in a bit of a hurry, and 2) There just isn't much to report. It'll be nice to have some game action, just so we'll have some new stuff to discuss.

Joe Girardi said he chose to flip-flop Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte this round because of Hughes' good career numbers in Texas, his good 2010 numbers on the road and the possibility of the veteran Pettitte starting Game 7 against Cliff Lee.

Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, always honest, smiled when discussing Lee. "He's not invincible," he said. "He's not the Messiah."

Rangers Game 1 starter C.J. Wilson is hilarious. Asked about Lee's influence on him, Wilson responded, "Well, actually, before he was here, I was actually a right-handed second baseman."

--Here's my Yankees-Rangers scouting report.

We'll have a more full day tomorrow - LCS predictions, live chat at 1:00, a book giveaway contest and a report from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Have a good night.

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