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Inching closer to the World Series

OK, Red Sox Nation, pile on. You deserve it. My pick for the Angels over the Red Sox couldn’t have been more wrong. Truth is, I regretted that pick the minute I saw John Lackey pitch his first inning in Fenway Park. Won’t make that mistake again, at least when Boston’s opponent is the Angels.

Other random thoughts:

— The dismissal of three A’s coaches over the weekend signals the onset of a tumultuous time for that organization. Manager Bob Geren either didn’t welcome or didn’t value (or both) the information that was coming in from many of the folks on his staff, and that’s fine. It is interesting, though, that two of the three coaches dismissed — Brad Fischer and Rene Lachemann — carried an influential voice in the clubhouse and were considered close to the players. The other foul-smelling part about this whole thing is that Fischer and Lachemann were informed via brief telephone calls. Lachemann has managed in the majors and spent much of his career with the A’s, and Fischer had spent 29 years there doing everything the organization ever asked. Common decency demands that they be given their walking papers in a more dignified way.

— Don’t expect this prediction to be as poor as my outlook for the ALDS: The A’s are going to be in the dumps for another two or three years. They’ve got only so many bullets left from this winning era — Eric Chavez, Mark Kotsay, Dan Haren, Huston Street, and Joe Blanton jump to mind — and the front office may well decide to start stocking bullets for another winning era ahead. Expect all of them to be dangled this winter for future reinforcements. It wouldn’t be such a bad thing for the A’s to be stuck in the bottom tier for a while, though, because that would allow them to find some potential gems higher up in the draft.

— If I’m Joe Torre, George Steinbrenner’s statement that I’m gone if the Yankees don’t advance beyond the ALDS doesn’t raise my pulse even one beat per minute. Look at it from Torre’s perspective. He has won four World Series. He’s been the most successful manager in the Steinbrenner Era. The players still play hard for him. And he’s financially set. Heck, deep down, Torre might be ready to step aside because who needs the hassle?

— The Angels’ medicority in the ALDS gives hope to fellow AL West rivals Seattle and Texas. Manager Mike Scioscia’s club has survived for a long time on its speed-and-pressure philosophy, but with the Mariners and Rangers improving rapidly, they may need another bopper to maintain their edge. Counting on GM Bill Stoneman to add the necessary part is always an iffy proposition.

— Another hunch: Paul Byrd pitches well tonight for Cleveland. Not saying he’ll win, or even that the Indians will avoid a Game 5, but the anticipated blowout would surprise me.

rhurd