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NLCS Game 1 Hotsheet
10/13/2004 1:08 PM ET
ST. LOUIS -- The Astros and Cardinals open the National League Championship Series at 8 p.m. ET tonight at Busch Stadium. Here are 10 things people around the NLCS are talking about:

1. Runs, hits and showers
There is a 50 percent chance of rain for the opener, and at mid-day it was 55 degrees and drizzling. If the game is postponed, it will be played Thursday. Game 2 would be pushed back to Friday, which is the scheduled day off for travel to Houston.

2. Rolen on the river
One of the hottest songs in St. Louis lately has been a local radio station's rendition of "Rollin' on the River" with Scott Rolen's name substituted. But now everyone is waiting to see Rolen, bothered by a calf strain and achy knee, get on another roll after going 0-for-12 in the NL Division Series. "I'm going to assess, approach, focus," he said Tuesday. Then he paused and said, "Oh -- that sounded pretty corny. A La Russa-ism. He's getting in my head. That's what Tony would say."

3. Curse of No Bambino
"Obscured series" a St. Louis Post-Dispatch headline called it. Fox has given prime-time priority to the ALCS when the Yanks and Red Sox play on the same day as the NLCS, and most people around this series just see it as a tabloid-less fact of life. "The Cardinals and Astros don't have this nasty feud like the Yankees and Red Sox," Cards reliever Steve Kline said. "But in terms of competing, we've been banging heads for a long time."


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4. Marquis de sad
After learning he had been pushed back to a Game 4 start behind Matt Morris for the Cardinals -- on the heels of his poor outing against the Dodgers -- a surprised Jason Marquis said, "I'm not going to lie. I'm a little disappointed. But it's their decision."

5. The Texas candidate
People in Houston and St. Louis have to choose between watching tonight's final Presidential debate or their teams on the field. Houston mayor Bill White, who will be watching his hometown team, told the Houston Chronicle: "If ever there was a night for the remote, [tonight] is that night."

6. The Dr. Phil Show
Although the Commissioner's office requires that the Astros go through an offseason interview process to determine their 2005 manager, there is no question how much the players like interim skipper Phil Garner. The fun is back. Here is how Carlos Beltran describes Garner's arrival: "He told me, 'OK, Carlos, we want you to go out there, do what you are capable of doing, steal bases if you want to, if you get the opportunity to do it.'"

7. Inspector Gadget
How did Woody Williams find out the Cardinals had clinched the NL Division Series in Los Angeles? "The first thing I did when I got off the plane was turn my cell phone on, got on the Web and saw the score. When I first turned it on, it was 2-1 [Cards]. Then it was 2-2. They tied it up." The club had sent Williams back to start resting for this Game 1 start. No word on whether the right-hander downloaded a Cardinals logo for his mobile phone wallpaper.

Houston Astros vs. St. Louis Cardinals
 GAME LOCATION DAY DATE TIME (ET) TV FINAL
Game 1 at St. Louis         STL 10, HOU 7
Game 2 at St. Louis Thu. Oct. 14 8:00 p.m. FOX  
Game 3 at Houston Sat. Oct. 16 4:00 p.m. FOX  
Game 4 at Houston Sun. Oct. 17 4:00 p.m. FOX  
Game 5* at Houston Mon. Oct. 18 8:00 p.m. FOX  
Game 6* at St. Louis Wed. Oct. 20 4:00 p.m. FOX  
Game 7* at St. Louis Thu. Oct. 21 8:00 p.m. FOX  
 * If necessary

8. Fourth and longing
The Cardinals were 3-0 in LCS appearances throughout the 1980s, but they are 0-for-3 in LCS appearances since then under La Russa: 1996 (lost to Atlanta, 4-3), 2000 (lost to New York, 4-1) and 2002 (lost to San Francisco, 4-1). How La Russa rates this opportunity: "I think the other chances that we had here in St. Louis, we had more issues and more problems that we had to overcome."

9. Where have the switch-hitters gone?
Some call it a fading art. The Cardinals have none in their starting lineup, but the Astros keep switch-hitting alive with Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman and Jose Vizcaino.

10. Backe for more
Houston rookie Brandon Backe, a converted outfielder, has never thrown on three days' rest. He'll have to do that in Game 1 under the bright lights. "I think adrenaline's going to take away any soreness or whatever I have," he said. "The big thing for me is just to calm my emotions down."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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