"Mike Scioscia, from Upper Darby, Pa., by way of Hell."

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You probably won’t be surprised to learn that, had the Red Sox beat the Angels in the division series, I was prepared to write an extended post about just how miserable another Yankees-Red Sox series stood to be for non-Yankee and non-Red Sox fans.  We’ve seen plenty of it over the years in the playoffs proper, and the over-hype their regular season matchups foment makes it seem like they’re playing playoff games multiple times a year anyway.  There just wouldn’t be any new angles to explore of such a matchup, rendering the whole thing a rather dreary affair.

If the early chatter from the New York tabloids is any judge, such is certainly not the case with the Angels involved.  How fun is this?

HE HAS been a menace to us for damn near 30 years now, the thorn in our side, the cloud in our coffee, the bee in our bonnet, the fly in our ointment, the clouds on our sunny day. He has been our nemesis, our arch-enemy, our tormentor, our antagonist and our antagonizer. He inflicts misery for sport. He is a serial baseball sadist.

He is Mike Scioscia, from Upper Darby, Pa., by way of Hell.

And he will soon be back on our doorstep, back within our borders, back with a mission to continue his reign of terror. He is one of the nightmares that keep coming back. There is the one where you are falling, with no floor in sight. There is the one where you show up for a final exam in a class you haven’t once attended all semester. And there is the one where Mike Scioscia walks into a New York baseball October.

The evidence cited: Scioscia beating the Mets with a homer in Game 4 of the 1988 NLCS, his presence on the 1981 Dodger team that effectively ended the Bronx Zoo-era New York Yankees, and his presence at the helm of the 2002 Angels which put a stop to the Yankees’ late-90s, early 2000s dominance of the American League.  Old beefs? Sure, but it’s not like you can’t find fans still ticked off about all of that stuff. 

I’ll grant that just about every prepackaged storyline like this is rather contrived, but at least this one is a fresh contrived storyline.  At the very least it will cause the writers and commentators and, above all else, the fans to talk about this series in new terms and ignore the usual autopilot we see when it’s the Yankees vs. the Sox.

Excited yet?

Former MLB player Andy Marte also killed in car accident

GOODYEAR , AZ - MARCH 06:  Andy Marte #15 of the Cleveland Indians looks on from the dugout during the spring training game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Goodyear Ballpark on March 6, 2009 in Goodyear, Arizona. The Brewers defeated the Indians 17-7.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Compounding the tragic news of Yordano Ventura‘s passing is a report that fellow Dominican and former MLB infielder Andy Marte was also killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic early Sunday morning. The report was confirmed by Marte’s agency, J.M.G. Baseball, as well as Marte’s former MLB clubs. No further details have been released so far.

Marte, 33, appeared for the Braves, Indians and Diamondbacks from 2005 through 2014. He was ranked in the top 10 MLB prospects by MLB.com in 2005 and held a career .218/.276/.358 batting line, 21 home runs and a .634 OPS over seven seasons in the majors. He signed with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization after the 2014 season, slashing .312 with 42 home runs in 206 games.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Marte’s family and teammates during this terrible time.

Yordano Ventura and Jose Fernandez were two of the most promising arms in MLB

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 3: Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals throws a pitch in the first inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 3, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
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Baseball lost two incredible pitchers in the last four months, both to horrible and unforeseen tragedies. Jose Fernandez and Yordano Ventura were among the most talented and promising pitchers in MLB, two young arms that drew both accolades and criticism for their performance on the mound.

Ventura signed with the Royals in 2008, blazing through several tiers of their farm system before he was called up to replace an injured Danny Duffy in late 2013. He secured his rotation spot the following spring and finished a solid 2014 campaign with a 14-10 record, 3.20 ERA and 2.4 fWAR in 32 starts for the club. During the Royals’ World Series run later that year, Ventura dedicated his performance in Game 6 to Cardinals’ prospect Oscar Taveras, who was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic just two days earlier.

In four years with the Royals, Ventura pitched to a 38-31 record, 3.89 ERA and 6.5 fWAR. While his command and overall production rate waned, bottoming out in 2016 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.85 SO/BB rate, his dynamic pitch repertoire still kept him front and center in the Royals’ pitching staff. He brandished an electric fastball that, at its lowest point, hovered around 96.6 m.p.h. and, at its best, topped out around 102.6 m.p.h.

Like Ventura, Fernandez made an instant impression in the major league circuit. He earned Rookie of the Year distinctions in 2013 after delivering a 12-6 record, 2.19 ERA and 4.1 fWAR with the Marlins. Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in his sophomore year, he recovered to take on a full workload in 2016 and stunned the league with a 16-8 record, 2.89 ERA, career-high 253 strikeouts and 6.1 fWAR.

Ventura developed a reputation for brushing back hitters, which escalated in some cases to volatile bench-clearing brawls. In 2015, he was ejected for three altercations in three consecutive games and served a seven-game suspension. Halfway through the 2016 season, he earned another eight-game suspension after plunking the Orioles’ Manny Machado in the back with a 99 m.p.h. heater. Some speculated that his aggressive behavior on the mound was excused — or, at least, made more palatable — by his talent and track record, while others called for a more heavy-handed approach from the league.

Fernandez, too, found himself at the center of speculation after reports emerged that painted the 24-year-old as a “clubhouse difficulty,” citing attitude problems that damaged relationships between the pitcher and Marlins players and staff. On the field, he was occasionally chastised for failing to adhere to some of baseball’s unwritten rules, most notably when he showed his elation after hitting his first career home run off of the Braves’ Mike Minor in 2013.

It’s impossible to predict where Fernandez and Ventura’s careers would have taken them. We mourn them not for their actions on the mound or their potential as star pitchers, however, but for their inherent value as people who were loved and respected by their families and teams. Major League Baseball will be worse off for their loss.