Who's your papi?

Some good baseball last night. I know, because it managed to keep me awake despite the near coma I was in after my longest run to date (I think it was over 20 miles, though who knows because my watch and GPS tracking unit mysteriously stopped tracking after mile 17 or so). I plugged my projector in and just shot it against the wall, lying on the ground with a Gatorade IV into my arm, switching back and forth between the two baseball games and MNF.
Both series, but especially the Yankees and Red Sox series, feel like heavyweights just beating the crap out of each other. The bullpens are depleted, it seems like their games are always on television, and Damon's hair has grown down to his waist. If they served alcohol past the seventh inning in MLB ballparks they'd be carrying Boston fans out on stretchers between innings. While last night's Yankees Red Sox game wasn't, as Theo Epstein argued, the greatest game in baseball history (both teams made a ton of mistakes which stretched the game out longer than necessary), it made for good playoff theater.
It seems like all the post-season managers have learned that an ideal strategy is to use your best relievers as much as possible, and as early as possible in close games. Foulke, Rivera, and Lidge have shown up in just about every game. James Click of Baseball Prospectus wrote an article recently discussing the broadening depth of the ace reliever pool. It used to be that most relief pitchers were failed starters, those without good enough stuff to start. Now you have pitchers who are bred to be relievers from the time they're in college or the minors (e.g. Jorge Julio, Francisco Rodriguez, Ryan Wagner), or you have starters who have good stuff who are just switched to relief where they can just air it out for an inning at a time (Foulke, Isringhausen, Smoltz, Gagne, Dotel, Rivera). The result, as the article notes, is that many teams actually now have better bullpens than starting pitchers. That reversal implies that it might be best for some teams to just pitch an entire playoff game with one reliever after another instead of throwing out some retread fourth or fifth starter.
The Yankees still haven't learned to pitch around David Ortiz. I predict Big Papi will die in about six years when his heart does a big poppy after the three thousandth free meal and five thousandth free beer he receives while out on the town in Boston.
With every hit that drops in front of Bernie Williams (he looked to be somewhere in Connecticut on David Ortiz's bloop single--shouldn't you play in more when Rivera or Loiaza is pitching to a lefty with that jamming cutter?), I just see the contract the Yankees will offer to Beltran going up and up. The Cubbies really need to break the bank and get Beltran, if only to keep the Yankees from getting him.
I wrote earlier that it didn't seem that any young players could make an impact on either series, but I was wrong, as usual. Brandon Backe pitched eight innings of one-hit ball against the Cardinals murderous lineup. Incredible.
In my heart of hearts, I can't really root for any of the teams left--are there really even any underdogs?--but it's hard to turn away. Just when I think I'm done with baseball for the year, it pulls me back in.