"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?

Video: Justin Turner gives Dodgers early Game 4 lead with two-run double

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
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Clayton Kershaw has looked sharp on the mound and at the plate so far in this must-win NLDS Game 4 at New York’s Citi Field.

After no-hitting the Mets in the first two frames, Kershaw smacked a one-out single to left-center field in the top of third inning. Howie Kendrick followed soon after with a two-out single to left and then Adrian Gonzalez blooped a ball to shallow center that drove in Enrique Hernandez, who had reached earlier on a fielder’s choice grounder to second base.

That all set up this Justin Turner two-run double down the left field line that put Los Angeles up 3-0

That’s now four doubles this postseason for Turner, which is a Dodgers franchise record for the Division Series. Los Angeles is trying to force a Game 5.

Video: Hector Rondon closes it out, Cubs advance past Cardinals to NLCS

Hector Rondon
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

In the first postseason meeting between the two longtime archrivals, the Chicago Cubs prevailed over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Watch as Cubs closer Hector Rondon whiffs Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty with a nasty 0-2 breaking ball to clinch a Division Series victory and send Wrigley Field into a frenzy (this is actually the first time in franchise history the Cubs have won a playoff series at home) …

Chicago dropped Game 1 but took three straight to finish off St. Louis. Next up is a matchup against either the Dodgers or Mets in the National League Championship Series.

Cardinals miss Martinez even more than Molina

Carlos Martinez

After taking Game 1 of the NLDS in an outstanding performance from John Lackey, the Cardinals dropped three straight to the Cubs by scores of 6-3, 8-6 and 6-4. It’s not difficult at all to imagine a healthy Carlos Martinez swinging one of those games.

Martinez wasn’t the Cardinals’ best starter this year, but he was the one who could shut a team down by himself, with little help from the defense needed. Martinez struck out 184 batters in 179 2/3 innings while going 14-7 with a 3.01 ERA. He left his next-to-last regular season start with a shoulder strain that was going to cost him the entirety of the postseason no matter how far the Cardinals advanced. It was a killer blow for a team whose offense had already been slowed by injuries.

October just came at the wrong time for the Cardinals, what with Martinez down, Yadier Molina nursing a significant thumb injury, Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk far from 100 percent and Adam Wainwright still weeks short of potentially pulling off a Marcus Stroman-like return to the rotation.

It’s Molina absence Thursday and lack of effectiveness otherwise that serve as a popular explanation/excuse for the Cardinals’ loss. And the downgrade from him to Tony Cruz behind the plate was huge, even if Molina is no longer the hitter he was a couple of years back.

Martinez, though, had the potential to even up the NLDS just by doing what he did in the regular season. And had Martinez been in the rotation, the Cardinals wouldn’t have moved up Lackey to start Game 4 on three days’ rest. They’d have been the clear favorites in a Game 5 Jon Lester-Lackey rematch back in St. Louis, though we’ll never know how that might have worked out.