Hug It Out, Yankees; You're In The Playoffs

OK, who looked more lifelike: Castro in his latest speech; bin Laden in his last taped address; or George Steinbrenner during Wednesday's Yankees game? They dusted off the long-dead owner, propped him up in a luxury box and had him "watch" New York clinch a playoff berth on Wednesday, the Yankees beating Tampa Bay 12-4 to complete the AL playoff field. New York will either enter as the wild card, or, in a long shot, as the AL East champs. The Yankees are three games behind Boston with four games left. Detroit, you're out.

New York, with a 21-29 record before play on May 30, has gone 70-38 since then. It's really kind of a remarkale turnaround, and of course it caused Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter to embrace and gaze into each others' eyes in a way no one else on the team would understand (pictured). But in a totally manly way. Although afterward Jeter reported his cup missing.*

Here Come The Thrillies! As the Mets unravel like a ball of kite string during a fierce wind storm, as the kite, wobbles ... (analogy breaking up, please ignore) ... Kyle Lohse led Philadelphia to a 5-2 win over the Braves and to within one game of the NL East lead. Lohse became the first Phillies starter to pitch seven innings in two weeks, while the first-place Mets were losing to the Nationals 9-6. There's four games remaining, folks!

The Winters Of Our Discontent. Umpire Mike Winters was suspended for the remainder of the regular season (no big deal) and all of the post season (a much bigger deal) for his run-in with Padres' outfielder Milton Bradley on Sunday. Although MLB has made no official statement, word is that Winters was flagged for "unprofessional behavior." Winters had worked nine of the past 10 World Series.

Central Concerns. The Brewers are still two games behind the Cubs, with four to play, as Albert Pujols' homer in the first led the Cardinals to a 7-3 win. Chicago lost to the Marlins 7-4.

* = Meaning unclear.