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Face Of The Franchise

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

It's really quite small; then again, that's the idea. The Mets' 2006 pocket schedule is a handy-dandy pamphlet choked to the margins with every game, every promotion, every squint-inducing seating plan only myopics could love, a bustling galaxy of tiny type selling access to the talk of the last two offseasons. The team that threw its considerable wallet at Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. The team that last winter rushed to sign Billy Wagner, jumped on Carlos Delgado and would have bought Babe Ruth, too, had heaven wanted some prospects.

Majors | #2006#Season Preview

Detour To Stardom

Derrick Goold -

On the day Rick Ankiel solved the riddle that was his star-crossed talent for pitching by borrowing an outfielder's glove, the lefthander was scheduled to start a back-lot game at Cardinals spring training. A persistent storm threatened to rain out the entire day of workouts for the club. Pitchers had to throw, puddles or not, and contingency plans were quickly being penciled in the coaches' office. Having been thinking about it since his last turn on the mound went horribly haywire, Ankiel already decided how he would make up the washed-out innings. He wasn't going to. Not that day. Not any day. Ankiel was done pitching.

Majors | #2006#Season Preview

No Need To Feel Blue

Tony Jackson -

At the end of the 2005 season—the Dodgers' second-worst since they arrived on the West Coast almost four decades ago—anyone who followed the club closely could survey the organizational landscape and see something akin to the surface of the moon. It was barren, with holes everywhere, and offered few reasons for optimism. When Ned Colletti surveyed it, he saw a Picasso—grotesque and disfigured on the surface, but with a hidden beauty waiting to be brought to the surface.

Majors | #2006#Season Preview

Second Best In Second City?

Jeff Vorva -

Last July 26, the first-place White Sox were playing in Kansas City in a night game, while the Cubs' evening home game against the Giants did not get started for close to three hours because of a rain delay. For a two-hour period, the television coverage of the Cubs' rain delay—which consisted mostly of interviews and canned features—doubled the local ratings of the White Sox game. For a long time, Chicago has been a Cubs town and the White Sox were considered second-class citizens.

Majors | #2006#Season Preview

Blue Jays Embrace Role As Canada’s Team

Larry Millson -Premium Content

In December, the Montreal Expos, after years of speculation, left behind an uninterested Quebec to become the Washington Nationals. Then the National Hockey League, Canada's pastime, became the first North American league to lose an entire season to a work stoppage. But as spring arrives, the Blue Jays believe they are well equipped to provide a ray of hope to Canadian sports fans.

Majors | #2005#Season Preview

Selig Outlasts Critics

Tom Haudricourt -Premium Content

Ten years ago, Bud Selig was commissioner of a sport that was shut down in a labor dispute so bitter that management took the desperate measure of bringing replacement players to spring training. Ten years later, Major League Baseball is in what Selig calls a Golden Era.

Majors | #2005#Season Preview