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The wild-card races, the Madoff ruling, Terry Collins and the Yankees' move to Newark

First, your new playoff brackets:

AL: Yankees (1) vs. Detroit (3), Texas (2) vs. Boston (4) or Tampa Bay (4).

NL: Philadelphia (1) vs. Arizona (3) or St. Louis (4), Milwaukee (2) vs. Arizona (3) vs. Atlanta (4).

Thoughts: Eh, let's just deal with it below. Again, it's our lead item.

After extensive consultation with my attorney, I've determined that is legal to go Spadafore style for a second straight day. It's frowned upon, have no doubt, but extenuating circmustances shield us from litigation.

What are the extenuating circumstances? The possibility, as we enter Game 162, of two play-in games, that's what.

News: The Rays defeat the Yankees and the Red Sox defeat the Orioles, keeping the two clubs tied for the AL wild-card lead.

Views: So following a game like that in Baltimore, with Red Sox rookie Ryan Lavarnway hitting his two first major-league homers, does that mean that Boston will shake itself off like Homer does (after somehow transforming into some sort of nuclear mutant, even though he was working in a mere simulator) in this "Simpsons" episode

Eh. I'm not convinced that will happen? Why not? Because we saw both the 2007 Mets and the 2008 Mets win their penultimate games _ John Maine led the way in '07 and Johan Santana did so in '08 _ and it seemed like they had rightedn their ship, and both times, they followed by losing their regular-season finale.

What I do think for sure is that the Red Sox better win to stay alive, because there's no way the Rays are going to lose tonight to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at Tropicana Field.

News: The Braves lost to the Phillies, and the Cardinals defeated the Astros, pulling St. Louis even with Atlanta in the NL wild-card race.

Views: What a great comeback by the Cardinals, who play in one of our greatest baseball cities. If they finish this off and actually do some damage in the playoffs, that can only help the leverage of Albert Pujols, who is finishing up arguably his worst major-league season (even though it's a season for which many would kill).

Keep in mind, though, that the Braves, like the Rays with the Yankees, could benefit from playing the Phillies, who figure to use tonight as a glorified Grapefruit League game.

News: A federal judge came down with what appears to be a favorable ruling for the Mets in the Bernie Madoff/Irving Picard proceedings.

Views: I won't pretend to fully comprehend what this means and what will result from it, but most important is that it seems to validate the Mets' recent, positive feelings that the Madoff matter won't hurt them as much as they initially feared.

This won't fully liberate them from Bud Selig's "Reasons to take Tylenol" list, as a dismissal of the lawsuit might have. But it eliminates the possibility that the Wilpons will actually have to pay $1 billion, so that's something.

News: The Mets picked up their 2013 team option on Terry Collins.

Views: I found this interesting on a few different levels. First of all, as Sandy Alderson continues to stress the importance of improving the Mets' perception, Collins' extra job security should alleviate questions about that very issue if the 2012 Mets get off to a slow start (quite possible, especially if Jose Reyes is playing elsewhere).

Second of all, it was something that was relatively painless to do because, while we don't know Collins' exact salary, it's profoundly safe to proclaim that he resides on the low end of the manager pay scale. Exercising a six-figure option is different than, say, if it were a matter of Joe Girardi and his $3 million (or so) annual salary.

Collins deserves kudos; I was among those who heavily questioned this hiring, but he proved to give this team what it needed: Energy and unity.

What's interesting to ponder is, as the Mets build themselves back up into contenders, is Collins the guy to get them to the finish line? Or is he more of a Buck Showalter type who cleans up the mess but proves incapable of completing the job?

The Mets hope they have to ponder such an issue sooner than later.

News: The Yankees wanted to move their Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team to Newark for 2012, in order to renovate the Scranton ballpark, but the Mets, utilizing their territorial rights, said no.

I saw a lot of finger-pointing and fist-shaking and "Same old Mets" crap on the yakosphere (trademark Neil Best) about this, and that always gets me worked up. Why do people attach emotions to issues such as this?

I'm a New Jersey native; I would've loved to have seen Newark get the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate for a season. I'm not sure the ballpark there would've been rocking every night, but there'd be far more buzz than there is now for the independent Bears.

Yet of course I understand why the Mets said no. Those territorial rights exist for a reason. Why should the Mets yield that ground?

You can't get mad at someone for exercising his or her legally obtained rights. At least, that's what I say.

News: Rosh Hashanah begins tonight at sundown.

Views: Happy New Year to all who observe. But more to the point, since I observe, I'll be off the grid from sundown tonight until sundown Friday night, just in time for the Yankees' playoff opener against Detroit or Texas.

So check back here before Friday night's first pitch for all of the playoff predictions. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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