As long as Gen. David Petraeus is in Tampa — the headquarters of Central Command — he really might as well throw out the first pitch for the Rays’ first-ever postseason appearance.

(NB: This is the closest I will come to remarking on the fact that the Yankees will not play October baseball for the first time since 1994. It was a rebuilding year. Even Brian Cashman acknowledges that — not out loud, because of the politics of working for Hank Steinbrenner, but obviously he knows it was a rebuilding year. The club played mediocre-to-poor baseball all year; was plagued by injuries; suffered the slumps of would-be future stars Robi Cano and Melky Cabrera; and generally put in the kind of timid performance that, say, leads you to abruptly cancel a presidential debate after seeing your opponent skyrocket in the polls. No incantation of "rebuilding year" is exculpatory: if they were a better ballclub, they’d be in the playoffs. But there is no shame in ending a streak during a time of transition. The question is whether the transition continues in 2009, when something like $40 million in payroll comes free after the contracts of Pavano, Pettitte, Mussina, Abreu, Damon (right?) and Giambi end. My vote is to put all $40 million into C.C. Sabathia and kick the living shit out of Boston beginning in spring training. For now, I’ll settle for seeing the Cubs beat the Angels in six games.)

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman

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