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TBS? Seriously?

I mean, isn't that the baseball-broadcasting entity that's trapped in 1983, still waiting for Dale Murphy to make a post-game appearance?

Turner sure did pay an arm and a leg for the rights to broadcast all four of baseball's Division Series, and the National League Championship Series (reportedly between $45 and $50 million), and one assumes that's why there was no money left over for graphics, competent announcing or, like, a clue.

First off, can anyone explain to me what the heck Frank Thomas is doing in the studio? Does TBS think there's a great big Big Hurt fan club out there? I mean, this is a guy who's alienated fans everywhere he's gone, a pampered, spoiled poster child for what's wrong with pro sports. And when he opens his mouth, it's as though a RonCo Cliché Machine is hooked up to his tongue.

Then there are the games themselves. What is up with Ted Robinson's eyes? The play-by-play man, who did the Boston/Anaheim series, has yet to blink since the regular season's end. And his partner, Steve Stone? Has there ever been a more condescending-yet-ill-informed broadcaster this side of Joe Theismann? Stone spent decades describing the nuances behind why you take a pitcher out of a game. "Um, 'cuz he's tired, Stony?"

All of this is just prelude, of course, to The Gut. I mean, you explain to me why TBS felt compelled to inflate a Tony Gwynn blimp in the booth for the NLCS. Seriously, I mean, maybe Gwynn has something interesting to say (p.s. he doesn't), but it's very difficult for him to get the words out from beneath 200 pounds of blubber. I'm reminded of extras crushed on the set of the original Poseidon Adventure. Gwynn's newfound gut makes John Kruk look like Bronson Arroyo.

Never have I been so happy to hear the dulcet tones of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, now that the ALCS is on Fox. Heck, McCarver, go ahead, tell us the story of your 1966 St. Louis Cardinals again. I promise I'll never complain.

Baseball has reached the Championship Series stage. What's your take on the NLCS? And how is the betting on that one?

Bodog Bookmakers, We can't call it the "NL Worst" anymore, as NL West teams Colorado and Arizona swept their ways to the NLCS. Both teams were never expected to be there. Arizona gave up more runs than they scored this season; they had horrible team batting stats ranking at or near the bottom in BA, OBP and OPS. The Rockies needed an 11-game winning streak just to qualify for a one-game tiebreaker to earn the final playoff spot. The betting in the opening round of the NL playoffs didn't match what that of the American League games. That was to be expected; when the Yankees or Red Sox are playing in a series, it's going to attract even the casual bettor. But there's an increased interest in this series as the casual fans have taken notice of the steamrolling Rockies; Arizona is not getting the same support.

How about the ALCS? The betting there?

BDB, I personally was happy to see the Indians knock off the Yankees, just so we didn't have to watch another New York vs. Boston series. The networks will have to keep their footage of Pedro tossing Don Zimmer on the shelf for one more season. The Red Sox made a lot of noise early and cruised to the AL East title, while the Indians quietly tied their ALCS opponents for the best record in baseball. I think this series will be a breath of fresh air for the fans; there won't be any of the soap-opera story lines that are involved with a Yankees/BoSox. This series will be pure baseball. Any series with that features the Red Sox is going to attract bettors; Boston is the popular choice right now, with about a 3/2 edge in dollars wagered.

Will Dallas vs. New England draw the biggest action of the weekend, and the season so far? What's your take on the line seems a little light on New England.

Most books opened at 4 or 4.5, then moved quickly to 5 or 5.5. Bodog opened at 6 and have moved to 6.5. The Patriots have been a freebie pick every week; they just continue to cover the spread. The Pats have been double-digit favorites in every game this year, and even when the line was 16.5 last week, New England squeaked out a 17-point win. While the Cowboys have matched the Patriots win-for-win, they've done it versus weaker teams; a one-point victory over the Bills does not equal a 21-point beating of the Bengals.

With the Yankees out, what do you think happens? Is Joe Torre gone? Alex Rodriguez? Any of the other aging stars?

Joe Torre's time in New York has come and gone, along with Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and quite possibly Alex Rodriguez. Brian Cashman has his work cut out for him; he has to re-sign the former greats for market value, not what the players think their value is. If Cashman lets some or all of these stars walk, we're going to see a couple things happen. Some owners will overpay the former Yankees and then watch them under perform. Meanwhile, the Yankees will outbid the rest of MLB for some big-name free agents such as Andruw Jones and/or Torii Hunter. Regardless we can close the chapter on this Yankees era.

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