FROM THE CHEAP SEATS

Look at it this way, they're still the National League's Team of the Decade.

The Yankees made the Braves look like the Padres last night, no offense, sloppy defense, and a growing sense of being in too deep. How could this happen? The Braves are not the Padres, they have been here before, they have the class necessary for this kind of war. First off, not being able to hit really slows you down. Nothing makes up for a weak start and a couple of errors like a couple of homers. When you make David Cone look like Walter Johnson, you're in trouble. The Braves just aren't hitting, and this puts tremendous pressure on everyone else. To be fair, the Yankees are tossing some terrific pitchers at them. Still, as we observed with the Rangers, even great pitchers give up a couple of runs. The Braves can't even put together a couple of hits against the Yankees starters, let alone runs.

There's very little to analyze, although I thought Tino Martinez's two-out single in the first may have been big. Had Millwood escaped the first inning with only one run allowed, he might have gotten it together. It was the inability to stop the bleeding that may have finished him. On the other hand, given the way Cone pitched, it was probably meaningless.

It's funny, when you're winning 103 games, no one seems to mind that the top of your order is trash and your bench is full of weak hitters. As soon as you get in a situation like this you notice the lack of quality hitters up the middle and the lack of left-handed hitting. As I said before this started, Andruw Jones and Ryan Klesko better get started --soon.

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Hero of the Game: Martinez/Cone

Goat of the Game: Millwood --when your team needs you most, you can't do that

Blatant Second Guess of the Game: Ozzie Guillen and Keith Lockhart? Together?

Reason for the Braves to be optimistic: keep saying "it's just like '96, it's just like '96"

Reason for the Yankees to be Optimistic: Are you kidding?

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The fans have spoken in votes and cheers -- Free Pete Rose!

Of course, since the Commissioner holds Pete responsible for the death of his friend (Bart Giamatti), there's as much chance of that happening as the Mets winning the Series this year. Still, shouldn't reasonable people be able to find a middle ground? Yes, he's a gambler, let's let him back in baseball and just forbid him from having a job which can determine the outcome of a game -- manager or third base coach. I can't imagine baseball being corrupted by Pete being a batting coach or an announcer.

If he did what they say he did, it's a major violation of baseball rules. But there's no evidence he bet against his team, even his accusers don't say that. So I think he's been punished enough.

If you haven't seen my piece on this from a few years back, check it out.

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Jim Gray is taking a lot of heat for his interview of Pete. Frankly, I'd rather see reporters try and get a story rather than asking "How did it feel?" Unless you're interviewing Tommy Lee after a night with Pamela, that's a pointless question. Most sports interviews consist of old ballplayers or third rate announcers talking for thirty seconds, then shoving the mike in the jock's face for a pointless reaction. Gray may have been a bit aggressive, but he the result of that was good for Rose, making him look like a victim in a hit and run. Gray is a good interviewer and I'd hate to see his career suffer in any way for this.

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