"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?

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.