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All even. The Marlins and Red Sox get the split on the road, so for them, mission accomplished. Better, everyone should be healthy, and to some degree, rested. We’ll talk more about Kerry Wood, Johnny Damon, and others in just a bit, but there are patterns to teams that make it this far into the postseason. Most are either very lucky with their health or able to adjust around the injuries that they have. The Angels won, in large part, because they went through the 2002 season with almost no injuries. Meanwhile, the few they had, like Tim Salmon‘s balky self, were compensated by the DH rule and good spare outfielders. As these four teams push for the ultimate goal, the Fall Classic, health should cease becoming an issue apart from collision and collapse. Escaping these, however, is never sure.

Powered by Side Two of Outkast’s “The Love Below,” the best Prince album Prince didn’t make, onto the injuries…

  • I’ll admit, I’m stumped when it comes to Mark Mulder. The articles that came out intimating that Mulder would have pitched in the ALCS, had Miguel Tejada not stopped running, are sketchy at best. I hate not taking someone at their word when I have no evidence that they have benefit to obfuscate, but in this case, we’re on the level of healing that would need to be investigated by the Vatican. If Mulder were allowed to pitch at anything less than 100%, it would go against almost every philosophy the A’s have publicly espoused as well as the very public pronouncements of Billy Beane. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I’m saying that if it’s true, that Mulder could have pitched, we should all be buying stock in Eli Lilly. (This statement is not meant as an endorsement of Eli Lilly and is not an offer to buy or sell securities. Will Carroll holds a long position in Eli Lilly.)
  • It’s almost impossible for me to say more about Mark Prior‘s unconscionable stay on the mound with a ten run lead that Joe Sheehan (link) didn’t say better than I could, but there’s a nice remark made over at The Cub Reporter that adds on well to where Joe left off. “Sweet” gets his medhead gold star today and let’s only hope that Mark Prior is more Tom Seaver than Dwight Gooden. If that’s not enough to take the shine off Dusty–and please note, if he wins the World Series, he can walk on Lake Michigan; reader Eitan Altman has the breakdown of Carlos Zambrano.
  • I’ve been discussing Brad Penny via email with Erik Siegrist of Rotowire, and we’re both a bit concerned about the big right-hander. Erik points out that since Penny left a game with a hyperextended pitching elbow, he’s hardly been the same, but I pointed out that Jack McKeon had enough confidence to put Penny in as a reliever in the LDS. Mixed messages to be sure, but hyperextension is an odd injury for a pitcher. You’ll remember there was another Marlin pitcher last year with an odd injury… and I like to think that the Marlins have gotten smarter this year.
  • All signs point to Johnny Damon being ready to return from his concussion on Saturday in Boston, but one factor that hadn’t been, well, factored in is the swelling around his eye. Damon was lucky. In something the analyst pointed out upon seeing the replay for the millionth time, if Jackson’s head had impacted below rather than above the eye, Damon would almost assuredly have broken his orbital and gone near that foulest of injuries, the blowout fracture Damon’s vision might be affected and it would certainly be reasonable to ask him to wear some protective goggles. That, and not the concussion, could hold him back on Saturday.
  • I hope the Dodgers have good health insurance. Let me see if I can read all these notes I have on surgeries or planned procedures for the men of Chavez Ravine.
    • Hideo Nomo had a scope to fix his frayed labrum.
    • Paul Shuey had surgery to repair his acetabular (hip) labrum.
    • Kaz Ishii will have an MRI to determine whether or not he will have knee surgery.
    • Rickey Henderson is scheduled for a shoulder scope next week.
    • Andy Ashby will have his Tommy John surgery near the end of the month.
    • Paul LoDuca? He gets lucky–he’ll get rest and hope that he’ll be healthy by the time the Dodgers are ready to deal him.
  • John Smoltz is still a bit frustrated, despite having only minor surgery on his elbow. He’s asking to return to the rotation, a place that I’m told better suits his temperament if not his elbow. Smoltz, however, is unlikely to return to the rotation since Mazzone and Cox have talked openly about another reliever–Jaret Wright–moving back to the rotation. Add in a returning threesome of Mike Hampton, Russ Ortiz, and Horacio Ramirez and there’s only room for one free agent, whoever that may be.

If anyone’s up for a Saturday night in Indy viewing of Cubs/Marlins on a big screen with… well, beverages, email me and let me know. If there’s enough interested, we’ll get something together.

Fitting that this one comes in on 10/10… if that’s not an omen, I don’t know what is. Get well soon, Ron.