Even the purists should be applauding baseball's three-division alignment and wild-card format. . . .
The last weekend of the regular season wouldn't have been nearly as exciting if there were only two divisions and two postseason berths in each league. . . .
Justice wouldn't have been served, either. . . .
The National League teams with the second-, third-, fourth-, and fifth-best records--Cincinnati, the Dodgers, Colorado and Houston--all would have been through for the year, but the team with the sixth-best record, Chicago, would have won the East. . . .
The team with the second-best record in the American League, Boston, wouldn't have advanced, either. . . .
Thumbs up to the Angels and Dodgers for passing their gut checks. . . .
It developed that the Angels needed to win their last five games to force a playoff today with Seattle for the AL West title. . . .
Their chances appeared to be somewhere between slim and none after their August-September swoon and 10-2 beating by the Mariners on Tuesday in Seattle. . . .
But today the Angels are the team that will bring the momentum with them into the Kingdome, even though the Mariners are the team that will start Randy Johnson. . . .
Rex Hudler provided California with the same spark during the last few days that Chad Fonville gave the Dodgers the last half of the season. . . .
Raul Mondesi's home run for the go-ahead runs Saturday night at San Diego after he was carried from the field on a stretcher Friday brought back memories of gimpy Kirk Gibson's decisive homer in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series against Oakland. . . .
"We've got some heart," said Tim Wallach, who had shown his long ago. . . .
I liked all the emotion the Dodgers showed after clinching the West title. It will be a spirited, confident bunch that opens the playoffs Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium. . . .
There are those who believe the Dodgers match up better against Atlanta than Cincinnati, but what would have been so great about the possibility of matching up against Greg Maddux twice in five games? . . .
The resemblance between the rookie years of Hideo Nomo and Fernando Valenzuela is remarkable. . . .
This strike-shortened season, Nomo was 13-6 with a 2.54 earned-run average. . . .
In the even shorter 1981 season, Valenzuela was 13-7 with a 2.48 ERA. . . .
Nomo led the league with 236 strikeouts. . . .
Valenzuela led the league with eight shutouts and led the league in strikeouts. . . .
Like Valenzuela, Nomo could participate in as many as three postseason series. . . .
Fernando was 1-0 in the divisional playoff series, 1-1 in the league championship series, and 1-0 in the World Series for the champion Dodgers. . . .
NBC pulling the plug on the climax of the Shula Bowl ranks right up there with "Heidi" among the network's worst moments. . . .
With 21 seconds left, the Cincinnati Bengals were driving toward what might have been a game-tying field goal or game-winning touchdown against the Miami Dolphins when we were informed that the start of the San Diego-Pittsburgh game had to be shown. . . .
It would have been bad enough if the switch was made to the kickoff at Pittsburgh, but, instead, we got a commercial then a lengthy pregame analysis by the announcers. . . .
It wasn't until several minutes after the fact that the final score from Cincinnati--Dolphins 26, Bengals 23 after a missed field goal--was revealed. . . .
Whatever happened to common sense? . . .
NBC--and ESPN2--also made the mistake of saying the Angels had no chance of reaching the American League playoffs after the New York Yankees clinched the wild-card spot. . . .
What a shock, the Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams being stripped of their unbeaten status on the same Sunday afternoon. . . .
It won't be long before somebody accuses the USC defense of pouring it on. . . .
The Trojans, who shut out Arizona State, 31-0, Saturday, have yielded a national low 27 points in four games. The offense deserves some of the credit. It has committed only one turnover all season. . . .
Perhaps the biggest improvement in the defense from recent seasons is the secondary, which helped limit prolific Sun Devil passer Jake (The Snake) Plummer to 148 yards. . . .