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Major Leaguer

Updated: 2017-11-28T06:47:04.706-05:00




Good evening

Sincerely Yours




Les Grant





Am I The Only One?


****"Am I The Only One?" who just got back from "Baseball Heaven," (OK, OK, I returned on Thursday morning, but still suffer from jet lag), and would like to tell you a little bit about what it's like to eat, drink, sleep and enjoy baseball for 6 wonderful days (or 144 hours, or even better, 8640 minutes, however, I refuse to count the seconds)????Sooooooo, sit back, and enjoy my tale of how much fun baseball can be when you travel with Jay Buckley Tours around the country!!!!----Thursday, July 27----I left in plenty of time from my home in Boca Raton, Florida, and headed down to Hollywood where good buddy Stevie Cheesesteak would not only keep my car in his garage, but also drive me to Fort Lauderdale Airport. That Stevie's not a bad dude, even though he's a Phillies/Eagles/Sixers/Flyers fan..... Went through security, and of course, passed with flying colors..... Grabbed a quick $20 late lunch/early dinner and then headed for my gate, where the one thing you don't want to see awaited me: a flashing "FLIGHT DELAYED" sign by the terminal. I'd almost rather see a Mets score with them down 5-0 in the 3rd inning than see that ominous warning (REMEMBER: I did say ALMOST)!!!****Welllll, six and a half hours later we finally boarded due to thunderstorms in Chicago. At least I caught up on my Sports Illustrated reading, but never did finish the New York Times crossword puzzle (actually, I never finish the NY Times crossword puzzle, if you know what I mean)!!! We finally took off, had a real smooth flight and landed around 3 AM or so, which was actually 2 AM Chicago time..... Geez, in just a few more hours McDonald's of O'Hare would be opening for breakfast, or was I actually hallucinating? Could be, that's what flying in the middle of the night (or morning) can do to you!!!! Finally arrived at the Chicago hotel (no names, to protect the innocent) at around 3 AM, caught a few hours of shut eye, had a quick breakfast at the Hotel Nameless, and waited anxiously for the Jay Buckley Express to arrive at around 2 PM, for our first stop: Milwaukee!!!!----Friday, July 28----It's 1:45 PM, and it's a sight for sore, and may I add, very tired eyes!!! The Jay Buckley Tour Bus has arrived, and not only that, but good buddy Dick "The Other One" Enstadt is our tour guide (Sorry, Dickie, I just can't call you an escort, if you know what I mean)!! We shook hands, shared a Man Hug or 3, everyone in the group introduced themselves, and it was off to Miller Park in Milwaukee, ETA of around 4 PM, Central Time, for our tailgate party in Cheeseland!!! To say the least, it was quite a blast!!! Beers, brauts, burgers and enough food to feed all of Wisconsin, or at least it seemed that way (I wonder what the world's record for inhaling carbs at a taligate party is, and did I even come close)!!! Not too shabby for this Brooklyn kid who accidentally wound up in Boca Raton, Florida!!!****The tailgate party ended around 5;30 or so, and then we were on our own. I walked around this lavish stadium, admired its newness, cleanliness and of course loved that half-open (or is it half-closed, I'm never quite sure about those things) thingie they call a DOME!! I was hoping they would close it because the heat was unbearable. Remember, I live in South Florida, which is basically a human furnace, but I was never hotter than that evening in Milwaukee. As for the game? Verrrrry interesting, as the Brew Crew, playing for the first time minus slugger and star player Carlos Lee took an early 3-0 lead in the first, only to watch the Reds eventually tie it up, and win it 4-3. Great defensive plays by 3B Encarnacion and SS Clayton ended both the 8th and 9th innings and allowed the Reds to hold on for the win. All in all, a fun evening for the 32,743 fanatics who were there!! My personal hightlight of the night? You've got to love the race between the Brautwurst, Hot Dog and other various forms of delicacies that occurs during the game. It makes you wonder what Randal[...]

Am I The Only One?


****"Am I The Only One?" who's still waiting to see which players are traded and which are not? Come on sports fanaticos, you have to admit that you're as anxious as I am to see if your team (mine is the Mets, if that's not obvious by now) will get that starting pitcher, or shortstop, or maybe even the pinch hitter you need that will help your team either win their division, or clinch a wild card come late September!! No one out there, even those so-called experts really has a clue if Abreu, Soriano, Carlos Lee, Livan Hernandez, Lugo, Casey, Zito, Dontrelle or the other dozens of names will actually be dealt or stay put!! There are so many teams with playoff potential, that some GM's are literally waiting for the morning of July 31, the trading deadline, to make their decisions. Are they "sellers" or "buyers?" It's sure going to be an interesting few days, don't you agree?****"Am I The Only One?" who's curious as to what the real story is behind the firing of "Baseball Tonight" and ESPN analyst Harold Reynolds? Rumors as to certain uhh, shall we say, indisgressions are flying all over the internet, which is truly unfair to Harold R!! Unfortunately for him, other ESPN personalities (if you can call them that), have lost their jobs throughout the years over "questionable" behavior, and if you look at the way ESPN lowered the boom on him so quickly, it does make one wonder!!****Speaking of ESPN, "Am I The Only One?" who watches Orel Hershiser do his thing on "Baseball Tonight," and comes to this obvious conclusion: So that's what Opie Taylor really looks like all grown up!!! (If you don't remember Opie, you're way too young to read this stuff that I write that passes for sports writing)!!****Man, oh man, if Joe Girardi isn't the best young manager in baseball, I don't know who is!! The job he has done with those Fishies down here in South Florida is quite amazing, and Joe Torre should be proud that at least 2 of his 3 proteges are doing so well. The other guy is, of course, Mets' chief Willie Randolph, who is leading his troops to what looks like a sure NL East championship. The only one of Joe's guys who struck out so far was Lee Mazzilli, but who wouldn't fail with last year's Orioles of Palmiero, Sosa and all those steroid allegations floating around on a daily basis. If you throw in the screwball owner, Peter Angelos, it was quite a combination platter Lee had to cope with!!!!****"Am I The Only One?" who is sorry that Brad Penny and Kenny Lofton didn't duke it out the other night in the LaLa dugout, after Penny pointed his finger at Kenny and claimed he didn't hustle on a ball hit to center field. Talk about 2 great personalities: Lofton vs. Penny!!! In a fight like that you have to root for a double knockout!!****It looks like the DL again for Halos' star Bartolo Colon, who may be done for the year, which truly hurts their chances against the A's, Rangers and Mariners. Last year's Cy Young Award winner hasn't been right all year, or actually I believe it's been since the World Baseball Classic, not that I'm implying anything, of course, now why would I do that?****Mets' starting pitcher John Maine has now thrown 17 straight scoreless innings, and is making the trade of Mr. & Mrs. Benson to the Orioles look better every single day. If this keeps up, Maine will soon be called the "next Mike Pelfrey!!"****"Am I The Only One?" who is taking a mini-vacation (what again) and won't be entertaining you folks for the next 8 days or so? Yuppppp, that would be me, however now it's time for my annual baseball tour, courtesy of Jay Buckley Tours, and his band of Merry Men!! Tonight I fly to Chicago, then starting Friday with the Reds vs. Brews in Miller Park, it's Saturday night and Sunday afternoon in the Metrodome in Minneapolis for the Twins vs. Tigers battles, Monday it's Chisox against the Royalettes in Royalettes Stadium (formerly Kauffman Stadium); then on Tuesday it's the new Busch Stadium[...]

Am I The Only One?


****"Am I The Only One?" who believes that the Chicago White Sox and their GM Ken Williams are about ready to put the missing pieces together for their team as they get ready to defend their World Series title? OK, boys and girls, and all you sports fanaticos out there who ready my daily blogs (at last count, that would be 7, not including my boy Stan the Man/Sam Kinison, who at last count was the SECOND funniest guy in Boca Raton), here we go:::::The White Soxxxxx today not only acquired former KC Royalette closer and All Star Mike MacDougal to help out their weary bullpen, but also picked up Sandy Alomar, Jr., from the Dodgers for his second tour of duty as back up catcher. How old is Sandy Alomar, Jr.? He's now officially older than Sandy Alomar, Sr., that's how old he is!! Man, I can remember watching Alomar Senior playing second base for the Mets in the mid '60's!!!****Also, latest rumors out there are that Alfonso Soriano is heading to the Windy City for young pitching stud Brendan McCarthy!! How's this for a middle of a lineup? Soriano, Thome and Paul Konerko!!!!****This should finally put an end to the Ozzie Guillen antics, one would hope!! Did you see his latest stunt? Sir Ozzie freaked out again when Jon Garland, in the middle of pitching a masterpiece ball game against the Rangers twice threw at the Rangers in retaliation of Vincente Padilla using AJ for target practice, and couldn't hit anyone. Sir Ozzie of course went ballistic in the dugout once more, and now surely faces another fine and possible suspension from Czar Bud Lite!! OZZIE, YO, OZZIE!!!! Stop throwing hand grenades from your dugout and pay more attention to the game, OK? Your incredibly talented team is now 6 1/2 games behind the Motown Boys, and only 2 1/2 ahead of the Yankees, and just 3 in front of the Twins for the Wild Card spot. If you're not careful, you'll be managing in Chicago again next year, but this time it will be for the Cubs!!!!****"Am I The Only One,?" speaking of the Cubs, who's sad to see that Derrek Lee is back on the disabled list again, with severe inflammation of that wrist that caused him to miss over 2 months of the season earlier this year? I do believe it's time shut down DLee for the balance of 2006, Los Cubbies aren't going anywhere anyhow!! He can now join Kerry Wood and Mark Prior on the injured list, although this is the first time in Lee's career he's been hurt!!****"Am I The Only One?" who couldn't believe the show that Boston's Manny Ramirez put on yesterday in the sun-filled left field area of Safeco Field in Seattle? Between Manny's "kick save" attempt at stopping a ball, and then his behind the back pass to Coco Crisp (Coco blew the easy lay up, he should have dunked it), on what eventually became Adrian Beltre's inside the park homer, it was "classic Manny," and funny as heck, although I'm sure good buddy Jimmy Dawson, the eternal Red Sox and Pawsox fan surely was not chuckling in his Heineken while watching!! HEY, MANNY: No kick saves in left field, try using the glove on your left hand once in a blue moon, OK? Alsooooooo, tryouts for Dominican goalie for the 2010 World Cup are only in about, uhhhhh, 3 1/2 more years!! Hang in there, 'bro, I'll bet you never thought playing the Green Monster in Fenway was so easy, especially after your adventures in Seattle on Sunday, right?****"Am I The Only One?" who can't believe what's happened to Orioles' pitcher Russ Ortiz in the last year or so? Ortiz is now 1-16 in his last 22 starts with the DBacks and O's!! That is correct, sports wizards, that's 1-16!!! Do you want more numbers? Funny you should ask, I just happen to have some handy:::: Russ was 18-9 in '99, and then 17-9 in '01 with San Francisco; he was also 21-7 with the '03 Braves in Atlanta!! In the past 3 years, his record is 5-25 in his last 30 decisions!! If he was my stockbroker, I'd be working the midnight shift at Taco Bell to feed myself!![...]

Am I The Only One?


****"Am I The Only One?" who would have paid top dollar to see Blue Jays' manager John Gibbons and former Blue Jay, now a Giant, Shea Hillenbrand duke it out, best 2 out of 3, in a battle right at second base at a field of their choice? Come on, gang, when's the last time you heard of a major league manager challenging one of his players to a fist fight? OK, OK, Sweet Lou Piniella and Crazy Rob Dibble had a fight in the Reds' clubhouse around 1991 or so, and Kevin Mitchell and Davey Johnson kicked some butt with the Mets in the late '80's, but since then, no one that I can think of?****How upset was Gibbons with Shea to want to go 10 rounds? He supposedly told Toronto management if they don't dump Shea immediately, he would resign after the next game, that's how upset!! Sooooo, Hillenbrand was released during the middle of the next Jays' game, and now gets to watch Barry Bonds try to "steroid" his way past Hank Aaron, at least for this year!! Funny how sometimes things turn out in the wacky, yet still wonderful world of baseball!!!!****"Am I The Only One?" who has these quips and "words of wisdom" about current events in the major leagues?****Will the Pirates' Freddy Sanchez actually win the NL batting title this year? Uhhh, wish I knew, but my hard earned cash is still on LaLa's Nomar, health permitting!!****How underrated is the Jays' Vernon Wells, and I thought of that even before he took Mo Rivera downtown for the game winner the other noche!! In case you were curious, the last guy who hit a game winner (I HATE the walk off nonsense) was the Red Sox' Bill Mueller on July 24, 2004)!!****I'll bet the Yankees wish they still had Motown's Marcus Thames or the Halos' Juan Rivera in the outfield, filling in for Matsui and Sheffield!!!!****If the Cubbies' Zambrano isn't the hottest pitcher in baseball, who is? He's won 7 in a row with that gosh awful team, and after a slow start, he's now 10-3 with an ERA of 3.11!! That's almost Cy Young worthy, especially pitching in that ballpark, with very little defense behind him, or has anyone not seen Todd Walker backing up on every ground ball hit to second, with hands of iron!! Walker almost makes former Met and current Rockie minor leaguer Kaz Matsui look competent at second base!! Then again, the key word is ALMOST!!!!****Congrats to ARod (oops, almost typed ERod), on his 450th career dinger, breaking Junior Griffey's record for youngest player to hit that milestone. Now, ARod, you need to go back to your Little League days down here in South Florida, and learn how to throw again!! It beats me how one of the top 2 or 3 players in the majors today, can't make a simple throw to either first, second or home plate, but this is certainly a major problem Captain Torre and his Band of Merrymen must deal with IMMEDIATELY if not sooner. I'm sure they don't want ARod to turn into another Steve Sax, for those of you young enough to remember the former Dodger second sacker. (OK, OK, how about Chuck Knoblauch)??****"Am I The Only One?" who watched 94 year old "Buck" O'Neill come to bat in a minor league All Star Game the other night, and wondered just how the heck this guy wasn't voted into the Hall of Fame when these so-called "experts" decided to finally vote in some of the original stars of the Negro Leagues from over 60 years ago? Mr. O'Neill represents everything good about baseball and being a human being, and SHAME, SHAME on you people who neglected to include him on your Hall of Fame ballot!!****You now have the Drew Bros., the Weaver Bros., and the sons of Fielder, Duncan and Gwynn in the major leagues!! Who said baseball isn't a family tradition? Not me, that's for sure.****OK, OK, it's stopped raining at Shea Stadium in New York, it's time for Mets vs. Astros, and I just hope El Duque's batteries don't run down. If not, Pelfrey and Maine have looked awfully good lately, which means the need f[...]

Am I The Only One?


****"Am I The Only One?" who was checking out some baseball statistics the other day and came across this one, are you ready? Curt Schilling, who many people consider a borderline Hall of Fame candidate (I don't, he's no Gibson, Marichal, Seaver, KKKKlemens, etc.) has a lifetime record of 203-134. Kenny Rogers, no, not the singer or chicken king, but the pitcher, has a career record of 201-134!! Kenny Freaking Rogers? I know, I've ripped Rogers a few times previously in my blogging career, but all I know is Joe Torre literally refused to pitch him in the '96 World Series versus the Braves due to his lack of confidence in him, and Rogers turned down a trade 2 or 3 years ago to Cincinnati because he "couldn't handle the pressure of a pennant race, and was happy with last place Texas," who were about 89 games out of first place at the time. Also, I've personally never forgiven Rogers for walking Andruw Jones with the bases loaded in extra innings that forced in the winning run in the '99 LCS against the Braves. (Without looking, I think Andruw walked about 11 times that entire year)!!****What does this prove to you stats fanaticos? Funny you should ask!! It shows you that statistics mean literally nothing. In a clutch game, who wouldn't rather have Schill pitch? How can anyone forget Curt's dramatic pitching in 2004 versus the Yankees, which keyed the Red Sox World Series triumph!! Just thought I'd mention all of this to you, and that's only because I care!!

****"Am I The Only One?" who has these views and perceptions of the current status in the world of baseball?****Man, oh man, are the Atlantans hot? They've scored 65 runs in their last 5 games, with only 19, that's NINETEEN homers also. They are the first team since 1930 to score more than 10 runs in 5 consecutive games. Guess they're glad they changed quarterbacks to Michael Vick, no? HOWEVER, their bullpen still stinks and I'm sure (or hope) that when their bats cool down, they will too. Tonight they face Cris Carpenter, so let's see if they are up to the task!!****Speaking of hot, NEVER count out the Yanks, who swept the Chisox badly this weekend, and have taken 2 straight from the Mariners, with the Little Unit going this afternoon for the sweep. OK, OK, the Yanks got a break on a bad call from first base umpire Mike Reilly, and the game should have ended on the next out. BUTTTT, good teams take advantage of these breaks (are you listening, Cubbies)?, and Melky Cabrera (one of my favorite all time names, along with Tank McNamara) homered to win it in overtime after a 2 hour rain delay. It's a looooooong season, this baseball truly is!!

****"Am I The Only One?" who's wondering if the White Sox' pitchers are struggling because they pitched way too many innings in 2005, including 4 straight complete games in last year's World Series?****Let's see know, Bud Lite Selig wants to implement a plan (or is it a rule, who knows with Bud Lite) that no All Star pitcher can throw any innings on the Sunday before the All Star Game? Sooooo, the Mets' Tom Glavine, who hurled on Sunday before the Game, would have had to either pitch on Saturday on short rest, or miss his start entirely, because of this "Never On Sunday" rule? Bud, try the new prozac that's out on the market, and wash it down with some decaf, how stupid is that?****FINAL THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: You mean there are teams out there who actually want to trade for DBacks' Shawn Green??? Anyone see his swing lately? It's slower than dirt, which is probably why he has about 8 or so homers, and his days of the 40+ homer crowd are long gone!!****Speaking of long gone, so am I, as tonight the two best teams in baseball the Tigers and Chisox face off in game 2 of their series!! Catch you in the outfield later in the week!!!!

Am I The Only One?


****"Am I The Only One?" who anxiously awaits the series that opens tonight between two really red hot teams: the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals? The Braves have been counted out by many, including yours truly after they were swept at home in a 4 game series last month versus the DBacks, and then got swept again on the road by the Fishies of Miamisville! But guess what? As Jack Nicholson would say: "They're baaaaaaack!!"****OK, OK, they are still 12 games behind my Mets as I'm typing away (whew, 12 games is still 12 games), but you really can't count them out of the wild card race in the pathetic National League. Then again, the only teams eliminated from wild card contention in the NL are "The Bad News Bears," and the Pittsburgh Pirates, not necessarily in that order, ahem, ahem!!!****As for the LaRussa Cardinals, they've bounced back from their losing streak and should be able to now pull away in the extremely average NL Central, when you consider the competition, such as the Reds, Brew Crew, Astros, and let's see now, who the heck else is in that division?****A "Fearsome Foursome" of the Mets, Cards, probably the Padres or Dodgers in the West, and goodness knows who the wild card winner will be shouldn't scare the Mighty Tigers of Motown, or Guillen's Gang from Chicago. The way the New York Yankees are playing these days, as are the Halos of Anaheim, it's still a crap shoot as to who will be in and who will be out in the AL as well.****Sorry good buddy JD from Boston, you better get some starting pitching real quick, if not it could be a long off season in the Hub. Never thought David Wells and Matt Clement would be missed, eh? As for Bronson Arroyo, no further comments needed, I've already expressed myself regarding that ridiculous trade many, many times!!****"Am I The Only One?" who watched Dusty Baker last night in the Cubbies dugout squirm once too many times? You have to feel bad for a decent man like Dusty who loses Prior, Wood, and of course DLee, and is paying the price for this by being booed off the North Side of Cubstown, and having garbage thrown at him from all directions, especially from the Bleacher Bums? Anyone else out there see that lady in pink with the "Cubs" insignia on her tee shirt last night on ESPN? I'm no expert on reading lips, however, she sure as heck wasn't saying "Dusty, I love you", but undoubetdly used a few other words that rhymed with "witch" and "duck!!" Hey, DBaker, bet you really left your "heart in San Francisco!" ****"Am I The Only One?" who watches Albert Pujols win game after game for the St. Looie Birdies, and realizes that no matter what David Wright does for the Mets, Albert just does it better, MVPwise, in Missouri?****Congrats to class act Mariano Rivera for his 400th career save on Sunday versus the Chisox!! He's one Yankee I've always respected (same for Jeter, Bernie and Posada), just don't tell anyone I wrote that, OK?****Yup, Bosox' Curt "Mr. Innocent" Schilling "accidentally" nailed the A's Nick Swisher the other night!! "Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you, blah, blah, blah, blah"!!!!(Lyrics courtesy of Mr. Francis Albert Sinatra, just in case he's reading my column)!!****"Am I The Only One?" who has this FINAL thought for the day? (OK, OK, you can now remove the APPLAUSE sign)!! Is Bobby Abreu actually available in a trade from Phillyland, and who's their general manager, the "Philly Fanatic?" Sorry, but Abreu's a true 5 tool player, and what team wouldn't want him? Oh, he's too laid back, I get it!!!! I guess that's what teams say when they want to dump salary, right? Granted, his power has decreased quite a bit since the 2005 All Star Game, but I'll bet Darth Steinbrenner would back up his truck of cash if that's all it took to get Abreu!!! He just doesn't have enough pitching in the minors to fill th[...]

Am I The Only One?


****"Am I The Only One?" who's back in Boca Raton, Florida, after a mini-vacation to Jersey, Philly, and of course my old home town of Brooklyn (darn, I miss those hot dogs, but I'm not quite ready to enter the Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest yet), and wonders what the heck is going on in baseball these past days? OK, OK, it's a bit of a review time for yours truly, The Only One!!!!****Someone has to explain to me why they give the winning league of this fun-filled, stress-free game they call the All Star Game, the home field advantage in the World Series. I know, it sounds like sour grapes because of my loyalty to my beloved New York Mets, but I have felt this way since they installed this stupid rule a few years back. It's a practice game, with players showing up and showing off for the fans who support their million dollar homes, with 8 cars, swimming pools galore, and a cash flow that most of only can dream of. It's a PRACTICE game, repeat EXHIBITION game, all right?****If it wasn't an exhibition tilt, they wouldn't interrupt the game in the 5th inning as they did, for that wonderful tribute to the late Pirates' star Roberto Clemente!!!! Whew, now I feel better!!****Reds' GM Wayne Krivsky has done an outstanding job so far in acquiring Arroyo, Phillips and Ross, who have all done quite well in helping the Reds stay competitive in the NL Central. HOWEVER, he must have downed 1 tequila too many when he traded 2 starters who are quite young and very popular in Cincy, Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez, for a bunch of relievers very few of us ever heard of, and new SS Royce Clayton, who's attempting to become the first major leaguer to play for every team in baseball. Wayne, what are you thinking? I realize your bullpen has been just plain awful this year, especially in the past few weeks, but Kearns and Lopez? To top that, you send former numero uno draft choice Ryan Wagner along to the Nats for good measure? Former Reds' GM Jim Bowden sure pulled a fast one on you, but then again, if your new pen can help you beat out the slumping Cards, then it surely would be worth it, at least for this year!!!****Yankees GM Brian Cashman must think Sidney Ponson still has some talent, after signing him yesterday to be the next candidate for the number 5 pitching slot in the Yanks' rotation. (I guess Ron Guidry wasn't ready yet to return)!! I'll bet every time Cashman checks out a White Sox box score he cringes and squeals as Jose Contreras has now won 17 straight decisions in Chicago. Oh well, Brian, don't feel too bad, Theo Epstein in Boston shares your pain, after all, he sent Bronson Arroyo to the Queen City, where he became the ace of the staff and an All Star this year, and all he got was Willy Mo Painless (still disabled) in return. Sometimes these GM's think they're smarter than all of us, when really they're not.****Time to chow down and get ready for baseball tonight, the Mets just finished off Greg Maddux and the pathetic Cubs, and it looks like that's one race that's over. The NL Least is one gosh awful division, and people actually think the Bravos have a chance, oh well, guess that's why they play 162, and not 90!!****Catch you sliding head first into home plate later this weekend!!!!(Unless you're name is Jose Reyes, eh)??

No Respect: Liriano Passed Up for All Star Game


Twins rookie starter Francisco Liriano dropped his season ERA to a league-leading 1.83 and his early AL domination makes him my mid-term front-runner for the Cy Young this year.

The 22 year-old southpaw has largely flown beneath the radar, missing out on an All Star bid even though he is only the second rookie in history to have 10 wins and a sub-2.00 ERA at the mid-season break.

The Dominican, with his seven innings pitched yesterday, just qualified for the league leader board today, as he was a late addition to Minnesota’s starting corp. But fantasy baseball owners have been riding the bandwagon all season. Liriano’s ridiculous 0.97 WHIP and .201 BAA will get the attention of stat geeks anywhere, even if his 10-1 record doesn’t impress the All Star electorate.

Liriano is a welcome top tier arm in the Twins’ rotation, complimenting already All World hurler Johan Santana and, no doubt, serving as an integral component in the team’s uphill post-season run. Even though the club lacks the explosive offense to corner the AL Central, the arms of Liriano and Santana will put the Twins close enough to pounce on any second half stumble from the White Sox or Tigers.

2 Familiar Territory: Cubs’ Pitchers Injured


Another circle of futility closes for the Chicago Cubs, as starters Kerry Wood and Mark Prior are both injured - again.

First, the verdict came in for Wood and the Cubs revealed on Saturday night that their often injured ace has a partial tear in the rotator cuff of his throwing shoulder. The team claims he will be out for 4 weeks. But the reality is that Wood’s season is probably over and his career hangs in the balance. The Cubs will hopefully do the right thing and end Wood’s tenure with the team by exercising their $3 million buyout for next season.

And then there was the late scratch from Sunday’s start for Prior. A side strain during batting practice on Saturday night is the catalyst for the right-hander’s latest DL candidacy, although his ultimate status has yet to be determined. Should Prior be disabled, it would be for the seventh time in his five year career. The 25 year-older is 0-4 with a 7.71 ERA this season and has not won a game since September 9, 2005.

It’s time for the Cubbies and their fans to move on. Seriously, there is no ‘wait until next year’ for this situation.

Is Jose Canseco a Liar?


MLB certainly says so every time the former MLB star and steroids proponent opens his mouth.

The latest exchange comes in response to Canseco’s assertions on Monday that the league plays favorites with drug tests:

The policy sounds great, but that's not the problem. There are major problems not with the policies but the individuals who are instituting this policy. For example, and this is theoretical, if Roger Clemens gets tested and he gets tested positive and it comes back, what do these individuals do with this policy? I think it's going to depend on a case-to-case, player-to-player basis.

MLB spokesman Rich Levin called the allegations “complete nonsense.”

But is this anything new? Since the publication of Juiced, Canseco has been going back and forth with MLB on a variety of outlandish allegations. The sad/scary thing is that they usually contain a high degree of truth and are rarely challenged beyond the PR level – where the impossible-to-prove details usually draw ridicule and the broader substance eventually shakes out to be true.

The Raphael Palmeiro affair is the perfect example. Whether Canseco actually injected the former MLB star in the buttocks is still up for grabs, but the fact that Palmeiro used steroids was confirmed by a positive drug test.

For what it’s worth now, Canseco claims Palmeiro cut a deal with MLB to testify against him and then leaked Palmeiro’s positive drug test to the public out fear of Congress finding out about it on their own – an allegation that could hold some truth but could never be confirmed short of Selig admitting such.

And in this latest round, Canseco appropriately makes the broader point that we cannot trust those who are responsible for baseball’s steroids problem to rectify it. But as usual, baseball will seek to discredit Jose on the details while backhandedly proving his broader assertion.

Money on it that the Jason Grimsley scandal will once again reveal that Jose was correct.

Am I The Only One?


****"Am I The Only One?" who can't believe some of these All Star picks? OK, OK, I know they still have that dumb rule that every team must be represented, and they've added a few additional players in the last few years, buuuuuuuuuuut.......KC's Mark Redman, whose ERA looks more like my college SAT's than an earned run average over the Twins' Liriano, Motown's Verlander and Curt Schilling? No Justin Morneau and his 68 ribby's? No spot for Junior Griffey? Aaron Harang has been consistent all year, why not him? Gee, it's a miracle Joe Mauer and his .392 average is an All Star, no? Gary Matthews, Jr. is having a decent year, but an All Star? He's no Sarge, and that would be Gary Matthews, Sr., a much better player overall than his offspring.****I could go on and on but until they remove the rule that each team must have a representative, these injustices will always be there.****Speaking of rules, when are they going to change the one that says the winning league gets home field advantage in the World Series? Baseball is the only major sport that has the winner of a meaningless game, played mainly for the fans, count so much!! One of the toughest things to do in sports is win game #7 of a championship series on the road, as we all know. Why not have the teams with the best record during the regular season be rewarded by playing all Game 7's on their turf? Any answers to that? Uhhh, I'm still waiting!!!!****Nomar at .361 is not an All Star? Sorry, thought we were done with that portion of the column.****Man, are the Cubs fans cranky these days or what? On Saturday, they bombarded the field with the usual array of garbage, and basically acted like fans who haven't seen a World Series win in about 150 years, but who's counting? Yo, Dusty, your one way ticket out of town is ready, yes, I know, Prior and Wood never pitched, DLee missed 2 months, but that's life in the Windy City. Your fans are tired of you, so kindly drive to the airport, try Midway, there's less traffic, and quietly go away!!!!****Congrats to the Halos' Garrett Anderson for banging out his 2,000th career hit over the weekend. Garrett is surely one of the most underrated players in the last 25 years, a real 5 tool star who gets no publicity at all, but does his job day after day!!****Who do you fanaticos think is bigger, Ryan Howard or Adam Dunn? These guys look like they could start at defensive tackle for my football Giants!!****Is LaLa's Brad Penny having the quietest 9-2/2.94 ERA All Star year in baseball? I would sure think so!!****Anaheim's Orlando Cabrera has reached base safely in 60 straight games, the longest streak since 1960. Who holds the major league record? Funny you should ask, it's Ted Williams, when he was unfrozen, with 84 straight games.****"Am I The Only One?" who's taking a brief vacation up north (Philly, New Jersey & of course Brooklyn) and will return on July 11, which coincidentally is the day of the All Star Game? Yup, that would be me, I'll catch up with you sliding headfirst into second base when I return!!!!!!!!

Am I The Only One?


****Am I The Only One?" who'd love to be a "fly on the wall" at the next Mother's Day dinner in the Weaver family? How about this banter from Mom, Mrs. Weaver? I quote: "Jered, stop stealing your brother's food!" "Jered, give your brother back the remote control!" "Jered, don't eat all the potatoes, save some for Jeff!" "Jered, say you are sorry for stealing your brother's job, and tell him you won't do it again!" Man, talk about a mother's nightmare!!****Watching Steve Trachsel pitch this afternoon versus The Little Unit is like watching cement dry. This guy is slower than molasses, and as Tim McCarver says: "When a pitcher takes this much time between pitches, it's due to a lack of confidence." Good point, Timmy Mac, and you said it in less than the usual 4,593 words.****The Marlins ended the Red Sox incredible winning streak of 12 games last night in FishLand, and about 32,000 people actually showed up. Guess they thought it was Game 7 of the Heat/Mavs series!!****How nice it was to see A.J. and Mike Barrett kiss and make up, no? Sort of like Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw in "Love Story," for those of you out there over 30 or so. I heard that Vince McMahon was upset, he figured to match them up next year in Wrestlemania 349!!****How bad are the Cubs? They were 1-10 at Wrigley in June, and good buddy Mike Fish is still crying over it. Yo, Mikey, don't worry it's almost football season, and I have 2 words for you: "DA BEARS!!"****Adam Dunn's game winning grand slam versus Tribe's Bob Wickman was one of the more exciting shots of the year, considering the Reds were down 7-0 in the 7th inning, and came back to win.****Whatever happened to the Cardinals? Now, they can't even beat up the Triple A KC Royalettes? LaRussa must be talking in his sleep, and hoping his starters and Isringhausen wake up real soon!!****Heard Tommy LaSorda the other day in an interview on WFAN in New York, via the internet. I still wonder how such a barely average manager could be in the Hall of Fame!!!!****"Am I The Only One?" who still can't figure out how Tommy had Niedenfauer pitch to Jack Clark in the 8th inning of the 1987 NL playoffs with first base open?? Clark was the only power hitter in a very weak St. Louis lineup, and Tommy still can't believe he did that. OK, OK, he led the LaLa's over the A's in 1988, but that was because Hershiser, "The Bulldog," was unstoppable all of September and then in the playoffs and World Series. I can name at least 50 guys who could manage better than LaLaSorda. Just shows you what knowing Sinatra can do for you!!!****Catch you later in the weekend, sports fanaticos, trying to keep awake with Trachsel pitching one ball every 11 minutes. "Say good night, Gracie, ZZZZZZZZZZ."

Falling Star


Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day starter Oliver Perez was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis yesterday.

The 24 year-old southpaw was once the toast of MLB after turning in a dominant 2004 season where he went 12-10 with a 2.98 ERA and a staggering 239 strikeouts. Injuries and mechanical problems have since sapped his velocity and blown his ERA to a sky-high 6.65.

Perez, for sure, has serious problems. Hey, if you can’t stay in the worst team in the league’s rotation, you need to make some major adjustments.

Has Anyone Found Jose Canseco’s Cell Phone?


I ask because he’s lost it and I’d like to call him up and ask how the heck he landed a contract to play (baseball) for the minor league San Diego Surf Dogs.

That’s right, the 41-year-old author of Juiced and baseball’s version of the Coney Island Freak Show will get the league maximum wage of $2500 a month to DH and (gulp) PITCH!!

Canseco will make his first start with the Surf Dogs on Monday night against the Chico Outlaws.

I wonder if the Dogs have contacted Jose’s stall-mate Big Mac.

Am I The Only One?


****"Am I The Only One?" who can't believe that the Minnysota Twins (yes, it's official, yours truly will not call them the Twinkies again) have a record of 15-1 in their last 16 games, and gained, are you ready for this, one half (personal note: that's 1/2 for those of you out there who can barely read) game on the Motown Tigers? The Motowners are only 15-2 in their last 17 appearances, and let's not discuss the hot Chicago White Sox yet. I'll tell you this, sportsaholics, it's fairly obvious as we head into July that the wild card will come out of the AL Central, so if I'm the Yankees or Red Sox, I better be thinking AL East Division Championship only. This is going to be one wild race when we get into September.****What are you fans thinking? How could Joe Mauer not be leading the All Star balloting for starting AL catcher? Come on, Varitek, Posada, and Pudgeless are all solid players, but it's obvious to me that Mauer, closing in on .400, should be the starter!!****If Justin Verlander isn't the best young pitcher in the AL (OK, OK, I know, Liriano's not too shabby either), it's hard to acknowledge someone better!!****I see where this afternoon the Pirates finally ended their 13 game losing streak with a game winning dinger versus the Chicago Guillens!!! I'm still trying to figure out exactly why they jumped up and down on home plate in excitement. I guess it's been so long since most of the Pirates actually have seen home plate, they were just following the directions that mapquest gave them!!****The Orioles Erik Bedard is now the ace of the staff, not that being their ace is such a big deal, eh?****You know what ARod did after his game winner in overtime versus the Atlanta Braveless? He actually SMILED, something that hasn't been seen in the Bronx for over a month!!****Junior Griffey isn't too hot, is he? Tonight's bomb gave him 4 straight games with a homer!!****Speaking of the Reds, nice to see Manager Jerry Narron given an extension through 2008, he surely deserves it.****Didn't know Pedro Martinez was signed to a 4 year, $53 million contract to pitch batting practice last night versus the Red Sox!! His line was this: 3 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, and 75 pitches!! I can understand his nervousness and excitement, but when he froze on a ground ball back to the mound with men on first and second and no one out in the first inning, I knew the Mets were in for a loooooong night! He didn't throw to third, faked to second, and just got the runner at first. Oh well, guess we're all entitled to bad nights, even Petey!!****How sad to find out that Steve Howe had methamphetamine in his blood when he was killed in that awful car accident. A terribly sad end to an incredibly depressing life.****Glad to see that Peter Gammons is improving after suffering a brain aneurysm the other day in Cape Cod. He's surely missed on the ESPN beat, and we all know a trade is never official until Peter tell us it is.****Not much on the baseball beat tonight, although Glavine versus Schilling is a great matchup in Fenway, as the Red Sox' streak of wins is now at 11, and the Mets try to avoid their first 3 game losing streak of the season!!!!!!

Bob Uecker Has A Stalker!?


Apparently so, according to the Milwaukee County District Court. Ann E. Ladd of Prospect Heights, IL was released from jail and ordered to stay away from Uecker’s home, Miller Park, and any other MLB ballpark. Ladd is also not allowed to come within 1,000 feet of the Hall of Fame announcer.


Mr. Baseball” maintains that his 45-year-old unwanted suitor has been sending unsolicited gifts as well as popping up at games and hotels across the US for the past six or seven years.


Ann, after a couple of unreturned calls, you should pick up on the fact that maybe he’s just not that into you.

Pedro Flops in RSN Reunion


The buzz on talk radio and in the blogsphere all week was New York Mets starter Pedro Martinez’s return to Fenway Park, a place where he spent seven of his most prolific seasons on the mound.

Much like Johnny Damon’s return, amazingly, the issue was to boo or not to boo. However, Red Sox Nation showed that they’ve grown up a tad over the past few months, taking every opportunity to shower their now favorite ex-pat with appreciation. Even the most mundane, like sitting on the dugout steps or trotting out to the bullpen, drew an ovation. Even though there were smatterings of jeers, and we have to expect that there are clowns everywhere, the overall vibe was mucho feel-good – that is, until the Martinez tossed the first pitch. Then it was understandably all business.

Pedro, on the other hand, seemed to be somewhat distracted by the entire event as he posted one of the worst starts of his career, lasting only 3 innings while giving up eight runs, six earned, off of seven hits and fanning only one. And, of course, the Mets were trounced 10-2.

Next time around, which we could see this October, I’m sure Pedro will bring the “A-game”.

Howe Was Hopped Up on Meth


Autopsy reports show that former major league pitcher Steve Howe had methamphetamine in his system when his pickup truck veered off Interstate 10, 150 miles east of Los Angeles, on April 28. The 48 year-old Howe was killed in the crash when he was thrown from the cab and his truck landed on top of him.

The southpaw was MLB’s original poster boy for illicit drugs, having been suspended a whopping seven times for cocaine, culminating in a lifetime ban in 1992. The sentence was reversed by an arbitrator after the season and Howe went on to play until 1996.

Howe went 47-41 with 91 saves and a 3.03 lifetime ERA. Too bad it had to end this way.

Dodgers Get Hendrickson and Hall


The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Tampa Bay Devil Rays starter Mark Hendrickson and catcher Toby Hall in exchange for starter Jae Seo, catcher Dioner Navarro and a player to be named later.

The move is seen to add some depth in the first-place Dodgers rotation and some experience behind the plate, as the club anticipates a dog fight into October.

Hendrickson, an ex-NBA player, is 4-8 with a 3.81 ERA so far this season. The ratio is impressive given that the Rays are cannon fodder for the explosive AL East bats.

Tampa Bay, on the other hand, gets even younger with the switch-hitting Navarro, who will be inserted behind the plate when he reports.

Manny Being Manny


Boston Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez has edged into the overall lead in AL All Star voting while Los Angeles Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero trails by roughly 4,000 votes.

Ramirez is one of three Red Sox to lead their respective starting positions, as the AL All Star vote is dominated by the Red Sox and Yankees – who also have three players poised to start. But the margins for many positions, especially second base, third base and catcher are still too close to call. So don't book your tickets yet.

The most recent AL totals:

June 27, 2006

First Base
1. David Ortiz, Red Sox 1,666,940
2. Jason Giambi, Yankees 1,016,991
3. Paul Konerko, White Sox 755,096
4. Travis Hafner, Indians 674,048
5. Mark Teixeira, Rangers 448,977

Second Base
1. Robinson Cano, Yankees 1,045,221
2. Mark Loretta, Red Sox 966,652
3. Tadahito Iguchi, White Sox 849,149
4. Jose Lopez, Mariners 516,501
5. Placido Polanco, Tigers 456,930

1. Derek Jeter, Yankees 1,867,418
2. Miguel Tejada, Orioles 1,401,157
3. Michael Young, Rangers 541,202
4. Alex Gonzalez, Red Sox 482,901
5. Juan Uribe, White Sox 403,111

Third base
1. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees 1,751,939
2. Mike Lowell, Red Sox 876,520
3. Troy Glaus, Blue Jays 630,421
4. Joe Crede, White Sox 599,885
5. Eric Chavez, Athletics 511,264

1. Jason Varitek, Red Sox 1,090,102
2. Ivan Rodriguez, Tigers 1,047,987
3. Joe Mauer, Twins 769,284
4. Jorge Posada, Yankees 768,280
5. A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox 622,351

1. Manny Ramirez, Red Sox 1,936,373
2. Vladimir Guerrero, Angels 1,932,366
3. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners 1,393,462
4. Johnny Damon, Yankees 1,221,891
5. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays 980,502
6. Jermaine Dye, White Sox 801,941
7. Torii Hunter, Twins 737,014
8. Coco Crisp, Red Sox 643,437
9. Scott Podsednik, White Sox 642,385
10. Gary Sheffield, Yankees 634,708
11. Trot Nixon, Red Sox 590,766
12. Magglio Ordonez, Tigers 559,722
13. Hideki Matsui, Yankees 512,222
14. Grady Sizemore, Indians 509,152
15. Carl Crawford, Devil Rays 339,518

Albert Pujols Still King


Cardinals’ first baseman Albert Pujols maintains a commanding lead over all other Midsummer Classic contenders despite missing significant playing time due to injury. The St. Louis slugger has garnered over 2 million votes so far.

But the real story of the summer is Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Jason Bay, who is finally getting the props he deserves, despite playing on a losing team in a small market. Similarly, New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes is living up to the hype this year and will most likely be rewarded with a starting nod. His secret is simple: stay off the DL - although his recent collision with Boston catcher Jason Varitek might challenge that run.

The NL race so far:

June 26, 2006

First Base
1. Albert Pujols, Cardinals 2,206,409
2. Carlos Delgado, Mets 946,093
3. Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers 694,489
4. Sean Casey, Pirates 675,477
5. Lance Berkman, Astros 665,882

Second Base
1. Chase Utley, Phillies 1,236,143
2. Craig Biggio, Astros 1,097,119
3. Jose Castillo, Pirates 1,051,990
4. Jeff Kent, Dodgers 483,513
5. Marcus Giles, Braves 417,997

Third Base
1. David Wright, Mets 1,386,584
2. Scott Rolen, Cardinals 1,041,250
3. Morgan Ensberg, Astros 687,229
4. Freddy Sanchez, Pirates 597,249
5. Miguel Cabrera, Marlins 561,601

1. Jose Reyes, Mets 1,068,105
2. Jack Wilson, Pirates 986,117
3. David Eckstein, Cardinals 875,209
4. Edgar Renteria, Braves 784,030
5. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies 624,538

1. Paul Lo Duca, Mets 1,281,767
2. Mike Piazza, Padres 880,948
3. Brad Ausmus, Astros 724,172
4. Yadier Molina, Cardinals 692,302
5. Brian McCann, Braves 516,659

1. Jason Bay, Pirates 1,706,105
2. Carlos Beltran, Mets 1,537,849
3. Alfonso Soriano, Nationals 1,484,845
4. Ken Griffey Jr., Reds 1,366,906
5. Andruw Jones, Braves 1,250,129
6. Jim Edmonds, Cardinals 863,775
7. Bobby Abreu, Phillies 780,960
8. Carlos Lee, Brewers 668,581
9. Barry Bonds, Giants 639,755
10. Aaron Rowand, Phillies 602,813
11. Adam Dunn, Reds 479,532
12. Cliff Floyd, Mets 461,058
13. Xavier Nady, Mets 459,315
14. Willy Taveras, Astros 432,914
15. Matt Holliday, Rockies 416,230