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GAME OVER

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For the second straight season a Sox team suffering an 85+ year World Series drought has won the championship. Congrats to the White Sox, who only lost a single postseason game (though they played many close games) en route to the title.

Now that that's over, we can start to look at the offseason-to-be, as talk turns to salary arbitration, free agent compensation, multi-year deals and blockbuster trades. The Mets have historically had an ear in all of those conversations and this year will be more of the same.

In the coming days and weeks and months, dozens of big names will be bandied about on this and many other websites. Most of the talk will be just that -- talk. There is little substance to most of the rumors, but we still hang on every written word, salivating at the very thought of this player arriving or that player leaving. The Mets' projected roster will be turned over countless times, much to everyone's delight.

To get us started, here are some of the more important dates of the offseason:

November 10 - End of 15-day exclusive negotiation window between impending free agents and their teams.

December 7 - Last day for teams to offer arbitration to their players. If no offer is made then the team loses negotiating rights until May 1, 2006.

December 8 - Major League Rule V Draft

December 19 - Last day for players to accept arbitration offer. If rejected, player can still negotiate with former team until January 8, 2006.

December 20 - Last date for teams to tender contracts to players who are not yet eligible for free agency.