Drew Fairservice: September 2008 Archives

Holy Mother of Christ! My prayers have been answered! Luis Vizcaíno LOLs Chris Young to first and the game is over. Randy Johnston earns the 295th win of his storied career. Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

The House That Mookie Built

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home-run-apple.jpgWhile all the world was clambering for its final good-natured cavity search upon entry to Fortress Steinbrenner, the red headed step child of New York baseball is quietly on its way out also.

Good old Shea Stadium, the home to the New York Metropolitans, will host its last game Sunday afternoon. Shea is one of the original concrete toilet bowls and one of the few remaining (sigh) multipurpose stadiums in baseball. This less-than-hallowed ground has been the site of fourteen playoff series, host to two World Series champions, the cokiest team in recent memory, three dozen flight paths, an infamous Subway Series, and the best catch I've ever seen mid flight to Vegas. A field that played host to Willie Mays, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden, Gary Fucking Carter, and of course, Bill Buckner.

Fitting that Shea goes out with a relative whimper as its sole tenant does the vary same. The Mets seemed to recover from last season's epic fail, holding a two game division lead just three week ago. Now Shea's final hurrah will be different than the Yankee Stadium's in another big way: massive playoff implications. The Mets are tied with the Brewers for the wild card. Win and you've got a shot, lose and you're hoping for a one game playoff.

Mets fans will even be deprived of a cathartic explosion to cleanse the bad feeling of Shea's final years. Instead, it will be disassembled and sold back to the them piece by piece. Who doesn't like a good stadium explosion?

Perhaps Oliver Perez will twirl a gem today, sending the Mets on an improbable winning streak, punctuated by a dramatic victory in game 6 of the World Series. Will that ensure Shea Stadium the emotional send-off that nearby parks received? More importantly, does anybody care?

Image courtesy of the Hot Foot Mets Blog

Please Don't Go Baseball

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parking.jpgThe final day of the year! Worst day ever?

Games that matter: CC Sabathia will try to vault the Brewers into the post season on short rest against the Baby Bears, who send the starters out today. Strongly Worded Letter received! The hopes and dreams of the Mets rest on Oliver Perez's shoulders when he takes on Scott Olsen. Who else but Mark Buehrle leads the White Sox against the Tribe. Cliff Lee has been scratched from his start due to a stiff neck, a common symptom of acute vaginitis. The Indians send Bryan Bullington to the mound and while the rest of the rotation follows Lee to the bathroom. The Twins send Scott Baker against Brandon Duckworth in Minnesota with clinching on his mind.

Games the don't: Dice K is all that stands between Mike Mussina and 20 wins. I suddenly wish Dice K was taller. Tim Lincecum will remind Giants fans to renew their season tickets against the Dodgers. Kyle Kendrick better have his fun today, because he won't be around for the playoffs. Joe Saunders hopes to get some conditioning in so Angels don't have to use Jon Garland as a starter in the first round. Announcing you aren't good enough to start a post season game makes you agent really happy as you head into free agency. Will Tim Wakefield and Randy Johnston be on the field for the last time today? Old men are notoriously fickle.

I'm officially excited for the playoffs now. Many wacky scenarios are still out there, so there may be all sorts of make up baseball. If you cheer for a shitty team like me, spend today saying your good byes before leaping onto a speeding bandwagon on Wednesday. Remember the Rayvolution is inclusive. You'll be loved.
whalebaby.jpgLast night should have gone a long way in deciding the playoff match ups. Everybody but the Phillies opted to go the maximum drama - minimum competence route. Doesn't anybody want to play in the postseason? Didn't think I'd ever see the day.

Phillies 4, Nationals 3: Champagne bukkake! Just as the pervert ordered. Jimmy Rollins turned a bad ass double play to end the game and the Phillies are the champs of the NL East. Brad Lidge was shaky but Phillies Phans threatened him with 45,177 towel-whips until he shut the door. They'll won't learn their first round opponent until tomorrow because Johan Santana is cartoonishly good. The man sacked up and pitched a gem, leaving the Mets a fighting chance to join their hated rivals in October.

AL Central 0, You -1: OMG! The division title has cooties. I don't want to touch it, YOU take it. GROSS! The team ends up watching rather than playing baseball in October has only themselves to blame. "It's only from a lack of trying" they'll say. King Meche decreed this insipid filth continues one more day by shutting down the Twins. The White Sox fell behind 7-1 but staged a late rally to bring the game within 2. Surrendering 4 runs in the following frame all but sealed our fate. Prediction: both teams lose tomorrow, forcing Chicago to make up a rainout against the Tigers. Win that and we're all treated to Attrition in the Wind - a one game playoff for the Division No One Wants.

Cubs 7, Brewers 2: Dale Sveum rolled the dice like a drunken college student at an Indian casino. While Dale Sveum's Ben Sheets gamble won't find him eating dirt until his parents send him another check, he'll think long and hard about the insidious nature of risk & reward. Sheets's first start in two weeks was a rough one, allowing the Cubs bench to knock him around for less than three innings. The damage is done and this messy business won't be clean until the end of the day.

It rained all over the AL East, home run dudes (Albert Pujols, Adam Dunn, and Miguel Cabrera) hit home runs, Greg Maddux won might could be the final regular season start of his career, and the wives of rich men made vacation plans. All in all a good night. Today's probably our last chance for shrimp; let's hope for the best.
Rosie.jpgIn bold defiance of baseball cronyism 101, the Seattle Mariners are openly considering Dodgers Assistant GM and proud uterine owner Kim Ng for their vacant General Manager's position. Mariners president Chuck Armstrong examined his teams $100 million dollar payroll and 100 loss season and decided he wasn't on the right track:

"It's time for some fresh thinking," Armstrong said at the end of his 23rd season with the team -- what he called his worst and most "miserable" one.

"We're color blind, gender blind," he went on to say. "We just want the best person that we think would be the best person for the Mariners as we move forward."


This Kim Ng character sounds like another Title IX charity case to me. Baseball America named her a GM prospect in their "Top Tools" issue? Big deal. Working for two of the higest profile, successful, & most storied franchises in baseball in her 17 years in the game, one of which was named Organization of The Year under her tenure while the other reached the World Series 4 times under her watch? Pfft. Isn't there a a colourful ex-player available? You know, the kind of guy that actually played them game. Hopefully a guy that barely graduated high school before moving directly into the minor league system. If you can't find one of them, how about a chili dogs and diet Coke scout? Those guys always come to a situation with a clear mind and the determination to wipe the slate clean.

We all know the obvious thing Kim Ng can do to bolster her meager case: shoot a moose in the face.

luke.gifAnother Saturday and another legend passes. At least today's legend lived a long & glorious life. Hopefully people get to play some baseball today, Coach Dunlop would have wanted it that way.

When it's early: Just one early start today and it's a biggun. The Mets need to win both their remaining games to stay in Wild Card contention. Johan Santana is going on three days rest against Marlins quasi-ace Ricky Nolasco. No rational human would ever accuse Johan of not holding up his end of the bargain, but a loss today will be remember a lot longer than his total number of quality starts.

When it's Foxy: Fox plans on carpet bombing the nation with baseball coverage. Four games to choose from, with varying levels of importance. The Twins can't hope to do anything in the playoffs if they can't beat Gil Meche and the Royals. The Phillies can stage a champagne bukkake party right on their home field if they sneak by the mighty Nats. Depending on the Mets outcome, a Brewers win over the Cubs might lock up a spot in the playoffs for the first time since Prince Fielder was skinny. The Yankees and Red Sox play too. Dice K's looking for his 19th Win. I'll give you a dollar if he pitches past the 6th.

When it's pointless: Only the White Sox have anything left to play for tonight. They send the embattled Javy Vasquez against the traveled Zack Jackson. At least Ozzie has somebody set up to take the fall. Another chance to belittle Dontrelle Willis presents itself tonight. I take that back, he seems like a likable dude that forgot how to pitch. He won 22 games in 2005! Brandon Webb has 22 wins this year, and a chance to pick up his 23rd tonight. He would also guarantee the Snakes a winning record. Which has to count for something.

I sure these games aren't washed away. If they are, watch Cool Hand Luke twice. It's as good as movies get.
pedro.jpgCome rejoice in last night's action. You can cool your calloused heels numbed by travel.

Brewers 5, Cubs 1: This one matters right? The Brewers ensured control of their own fate with a big win against the Cubs. Rickie Weeks hit a big time tater tot to support the inexplicable good pitching of Jeff Suppan and Seth McClung. McClung struck out 6 in 4 shut out innings. Credit to the Cubs for sending out their regular everyday lineup in meaningless game for them. The Astros got a walkoff koffin korner kick from Darin Erstad to beat the Braves while Troy Glaus's sac fly pushed the Cardinals ahead of the Reds. Albert Pujols padded his MVP stats with his 36th prodigious clout of the year.

Royals 8, Twins 1: Enjoy your time in the sun, Royals fans. The lukewarm (4 wins in a row, 8 of 10) Royals embraced their role as spoilers in the Division No One Wants. Billy Butler hit a tot as did big time slugger Mike Alives. The Twins maintained their half game edge thanks to Ryan Garko and his Indians. Garko's tetra tot keyed a six run inning from which the Sox could not recover. These teams combined for 6 tots; even par for the AL Central.

Phillies 8, Nationals 4: This hardly seems fair to the much maligned Mets. The Nats 100th loss of the season lowered the Phillies magic number to 1. Ryan Howard hit a home run and a double, knocking in 4. Dude has been off his ass down the stretch, posting an 1.302 OPS for the month of September. That's absurd ya'll. Much like the Mets, who put forth a tepid, uninspired effort when it "mattered". The Mets used 8 different pitchers, two that didn't record an out and two that only got one each. Tony LaRussa called Jerry Manuel after the game to praise his micromanagement skills. Hanley Ramirez (4 for 5) wore the crown of National League shortstops; last night and forever.

Yankees - Ambien, Red Sox - Lunesta: 27 runs, 127 minutes of rain delay, 5 homers, and Yankee runs in every inning but the 6th. Cody Ransom hit two home runs on a night that will best be remembered for...absolutely nothing. Not even Cody Ransom will ever think about this game again. The Jays and O's game was so meaningless, they stopped playing in the seventh inning and decided to go home. Everyone was okay with this.

Giants 6, Dodgers 5: Three blown saves? We're playing NL West ball now kids! Russ Martin thought he was the hero, but Jonathon Broxton promptly gave the lead away. As the team's only remaining fat guy, the urgency to attack the post-game spread was lacking. Some wackiness involving instant replay saw this game played under protest until the Giants realized nobody gave a shit.

There might be all manner of clinching today. Check back in and we'll see who will clinch and who will clench.

Image of a broken man via Getty Images and Yahoo
bradpenny.jpgAs CTC Sir detailed below, the Dodgers have numerous questions that beg answering before the postseason. Sending Brad Penny to the 60 day DL to create a space on the 40 man roster for Rafael Furcal will at least address the daily "Who ate all the ribs?" query inside the Dodgers clubhouse.

The official word is shoulder soreness which sounds a lot like terrible pitcheritis. Penny's 16-4 record made him a Cy Young candidate last season, but his awful 2008 season (71 ERA+, 1.63 WHIP, 0 rounds with The Milano) and mysterious injuries may cause the Dodger's to decline his $9.25 million dollar club option for next year. Penny himself considers this an indictment of his skills rather than concern for his health, and he will investigate playing winter ball this offseason because he needs to find a job.

It just tells me they were never sold on me, which is fine.
Without Penny, Joe Torre has some decisions to make regarding his rotation. Billingsley, Lowe, and Kuroda sure, but what then? Greg Maddux needs too many bathroom stops to be effective on the road. Clayton Kershaw put together a decent September when you look past his opposition (2x Padres, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Rockies), but he hates the road just as much as Maddux. Always kicking his seat and blasting that Weezy in his Ipod. All Maddux wants is to enjoy the scenery, listen to the Eagles and be left alone.

scaredtwinsfans.jpgTwo division races may be wrapped up, but there is still plenty to be decided. Also to be decided, who is sending the scrubbiest pitcher to the mound to day?

Out of the woodwork and onto the slab: Reclamation day in America! With many teams playing for pride, the projects and fringe guys come out to shine on Sunday! Dontrelle Willils looks to pick up his first win of the year against the Indians. Great Canadian Dock Worker Scott Richmond takes on Dice-K and the Red Sox. The Sox are 2.5 games behind the Rays and could use a win streak to avoid a trip to California. The White Sox and Twins battle of attrition continues mercilessly with Jon Danks leading his Pale Hose against the resurgent Brandon Duckworth in KC. Frankie Liriano gets the hung over Andy Sonnanstine and the Rays.

Stop the Bleeding: The Brewers grab a Bandaid named McClung, hoping he can put the brakes on their skid in Cincinnati. Arroyo the Soulful will be his opposition. The Mets can speed up the Brewers death with a win in Atlanta. Mike "Berman nickname" Pelfrey looks for his 14th win. The Phillies would like to dash the remaining hopes of the little Marlins. Jamie Moyer against Chris Volstad is a tidy little match up. Derek Lowe takes on Matt Cain in what I would call a half-duel. Danny Haren will try to make up for the fact that he went cold at the worst possible time by getting hot when it is far too late to matter.

So Goodnight, Loyal Stadium Rats: Of course tonight marks the final game at Yankee Stadium. Much has been said to eulogize this place, and while I've never been, I know that a large amount of recent baseball history took place on that field. Rob is going to be walking the field today, an experience I doubt he'll soon forget. I hope old, pre-Giuliani New York shows up and gives that place a proper send off. Wild in the Streets!

Hope you enjoy the second-last Sunday, I know I will. I'm going to Babelfish some Japanese insults and attempt to reclaim the Rogers Centre for the Queen.
rand.jpgHoly Shit! Last night the Rays clinched a playoff spot! The Rays are the pinion of the post season gears! Holy shit!

Rays 7, Twins 2: The Tampa Bay Rays are in the post season for the first time in franchise history. All it took was 10 years of complete ineptitude. Good for them. They're making life hell on the Twins in addition to making their own history. Scott Kazmir pitched a Kazmir-sized gem, all world nice guy Cliff Floyd hit a home run and Rocco Baldelli was on the field to celebrate. Jon Lester will celebrate because he's going to the playoffs too, and he won't face the Blue Jays when he gets there. Lester lost for just the second time in 8 starts, both against the Jays. Scott Rolen hit a home run and was warmly embraced by his manager. The Yankees staged a walkoff win in the afternoon so all the rampant vandalism can go under cover of night. Mariano Rivera is somewhere between 2 and 3 times as good as Frankie Rodriquez. He got the win and is the best one pitch-pitcher I'll ever see.

Cubs 5, Cardinals 4: Holy Shit! The Cubs booked their place in the post season as well. They actually clinched the division title, their second in a row. They got ahead early yesterday, scoring three runs (two unearned) on a Brian Barton error. They held onto that early lead, just like the NL Central. They've lead wire-to-wire and have the best run differential in baseball. I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE HOW THEY SCREW IT UP! I'm bored of watching the Brewers screw it up. It's gone from fascinatingly macabre like a crash test video to bizarrely uncomfortable like a porn star doin' stuff to a horse. I just don't want to watch anymore. They lost to the Reds studs again. Micah Owings drove in 2 runs in his third pinch hitting appearance. He is yet to pitch for the Reds.

Angels 7, Rangers 3: This game does not deserve your attention. Hank Blalock went 4 for 4, Garrett Anderson hit a home run. Sure, whatever. Frankie Rodriquez picked up his 60th save of the year? Wow, that record just keeps on growHE GOT ONE GUY OUT! IN A FOUR RUN GAME! This record is hollow enough to house a family of raccoons year round.

Phillies 3, Marlins 2: The Phils retook the lead in the NL East by taking this K-filled squeaker. Joe Blanton and the entire Phillies staff pitched well, totaling 16Ks. Blanton had 9 in 5 while Brad Lidge struck out the side in picking up his 39th save in 39 tries. That isn't as many as 60, you suck Lidge! The Marlins notched 12 Ks of their own but gave up a big shot that sent Shane Victorino soaring around the bases. That's him right? The Soarin' Samoan? The Mets dropped on to the Braves to fall out of the division lead. They'll be alright once the Wild Card arrives via Pony Express from Milwaukee.

The division that nobody wants gets The Gas Face today. Just win a game people. Manny hit 2 tater tots out west, dropping the Dodgers magic number to 5. Depending on the time of day, I would argue on each side of the Manny as MVP debate.*

*- not a real debate. Hopefully nobody cares.
dead_bluejay.jpgThere must a tariff on ligaments that JP Riccardi wasn't aware of because the Blue Jays just keep losing pitchers. Shaum Marcum is the latest recipient of a new tendon and year vacation courtesy of Dr. James Andrews. He joins Dustin McGowan, Casey Janssen, and Jeremy Accardo as Blue Jays that have missed substaintial time this season. BJ Ryan, Brandon League and (thankfully) Gustavo Chacin all missed some or all of last year due to injuries.

What can all these injuries be attributed to? Organizational philosophy? Irresponsible training staff? The world's least popular and most dishonest GM offers his explanations:

  • The Red Sox and Yankees spend so much more money for the high-end tendons
  • Tampa Bay was so bad for so long, they continually picked high in MLB's annual organ harvest
  • None of the healthy pitchers showed any real interest or passion for baseball
  • JP saw a market inequity early and was able to load up on cheap toe ligaments
The Blue Jays don't need much help to finish third (or fourth) and make excuses for it. The rotation for next year looks more and more like Roy Halladay, Rob Iracane, Camp Tiger Claw and me. We're thinking 4 will be enough. We're Ironmen.

Take it to the Streets

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contemplation.jpgThe second last Saturday of the year still holds playoff implications. 7 days from now this could all be wrapped ensuring use all the AAAA experience.

It's unsafe at night way up in these northern climes: Day games remind us all of simpler times. When the Blue Jays and Yankees weren't just highly proficient also-rans. When Baltimore actually staffed their team with Major League-level talent. When the A's and Mariners weren't forced into day action to prevent spoiling the last remaining dinner BBQ's in the Bay area. Jon Lester and Roy Halladay are going to put on a show at Fenway North. My wrists are opening from joy and anticipation.

The Number of Studio Analysts is Directly Proportional to the Nation's Interest: Fox has some worthwhile games on their schedule for all the NL Central fans from coast to coast. CC and his Brewers hope to bounce back against the young, strapping Reds. The Cubs and Cards game is the match up favoured by unfailingly polite and the impressively drunk. Ted Lilly comes off a one hitter, Joel Piñeiro comes off a contact high. The Rays can clinch their first ever playoff birth by beating the dazed Twins. Scott Kazmir is pitching the first half of the game, God knows who Madden will turn to after the 4th.

Saturday Night's Alright for...Doing Anything Else: Tonight's slate of games is pretty grim. The Mets are playing Weekend at Pedro's in Atlanta, the excellent Gavin Floyd faces the constantly rebuilding Royals. Will you accept a lame Country Joe Blanton versus the Fish pun? Is that even a pun? If a team wins its tenth straight, but nobody's there to see it, did it really happen?

There is potential for champagne to flow for Boston and in Chicago. Have your fun Cubbies, just promise not to over do it with that God-forsaken song.
sheffield.jpg

Gary Sheffield isn't having a great year offensively. He's hit just 17 home runs with an OPS hovering around .700, 200 points off his career mark. Luckily for us, his FYULABA (Fuck you up like a bad accident) rate still leads the league.

When Fausto Carmona hit him for the third time this year, Gary got upset. The grade A stink-eye he shot Carmona all the way to first base only worsened when Fausto immediately threw over to first to check on Sheff. The former slugger charged Carmona and set off a round of handbags that left Sheffield lumped up and wanting more:

Anytime you do that, we're going to have problems. I don't care who you are, how big you are. Anytime I get hit because you're upset about something else, we're going to deal with it during the game, after the game, or whenever you want to deal with it

Gary sounds upset. I'm sure he got everything off his chest and is ready to move on. He's nearly 40 years old after all, surely he's got bigger fish to fry: I know who they are," Sheffield said. "They're going to have to deal with me. Hmmm Gary, that is troubling. What about Victor Martinez, the man that popped you while you were mandancing with Carmona: Trust me: He don't want none of me. I'm sure he doesn't Gary.

The inevitable suspension may keep Gary Sheffield from notching the 500th home run of his career this season. The inevitable kidnapping may keep Fausto Carmona's family from seeing or hearing from him until Sheffield decides things are dealt with.

nouturn.jpgLast night's games were so exciting, they make you want to put your hands in the air. Even if your arms don't work.

Marlins 14, Phillies 8: 22 runs, 6 tots, a 9 game winning streak, and one flip flop in the standings. The Marlins beat Brett Myers around for 10 runs to stay meaninglessly hot late in the year. The bait that lured big fat Miguel Cabrera away from Florida had his second consecutive four hit game. The Phillies dropped to second in the division following the Mets big comeback against the Braves. The Mets have a new bullpen philosophy: one batter per inning! 4 Met pitchers recorded 3 outs in the 7th inning before giving way to Brian Stokes. Handsome Julian Tavarez gave up 3 unearned runs. His reputation as the ugliest man in baseball is definitely earned.

White Sox 9, Royals 4: It hardly seems fair, but this White Sox game against the Royals counts for as much as the Twins game against the Rays. The Sox donged, donged and donged again as they're want to do to. The Royals were just happy to be there. Carlos Pena's ground rule double three run homer in the fourth was baseball's first instant replay-reversed call. If the Twins don't get something going, the Big Series in Minnesota won't mean much of anything. The Indians and Tigers squared off before the Indians walked off.

Reds 11, Brewers 2: Dale Sveum had better go back to the drawing board. Last night's advice: groove pitches to young sluggers in a tiny ballpark seemed to backfire. The Reds knocked 7 tots in handing the Brewers another demoralizing loss. Those poor dears from Houston won again. Courage under fire or some shit.

USC 15, Texas 13: Quarterback Jon Garland hurried throws, misread blitzes and dropped the snap, hurting his team until special teams picked him up. Matthew McConaughey applauded the effort of his Rangers. If this is the kind of game that excites you, we can never be friends. Don't worry if you owe any Mariners money; they're incapable of hitting anything or anybody up right now.

The Gas Face is reserved for Kevin Youkillis and the rest of the AL East. You ruined it for everyone Kevin. The NL West stayed the same so I'll spare us all the pain.
The Houston Astros home game in front of 24000 visiting team's fans turned from an old fashioned Cubs love-in to a pre-apocalyptic orgy when Carlos Zambrano recorded the final out of his no-hitter tonight at Miller Field in Milwaukee. The Big Z struck out 10, walked one and lived the American dream by hitting Hunter Pence. He got help from league leading double play man Miguel Tejada doing his GIDP thing after the lone walk and faced just one over the minimum. Zambrano out-hit the Astros himself, going 1-3 and scoring a run. Any reservations or concerns that Cecil Cooper had before this game have surely been put to rest after tonight's outcome.

cubsparty.jpg Image courtesy of the Four Letter
yankeestadiumsecurity.jpgThings haven't been so great for fans of the New York Yankees this year. Wide ranging injuries have depleted their starting rotation, knocked their starting catcher out for the year and sidelined numerous everyday contributors. The team is in fourth place and losing ground in their division to the Rays and Blue Jays. Yankee fans have had enough and they're going to let you know about player leaving the field due to injury:
Oft-injured Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano was booed off the mound when he left Sunday's start against Tampa Bay in the sixth inning after a visit by the trainer and manager Joe Girardi
That's right Phillies fans, you're off the hook. The same people that booed the Earth's Yellow Sun earlier this year decided to take it to an entirely new level. In an effort to appease the Bronx Zoo before the end of the season, Carl Pavano plans to dive face-first into the stands for a foul pop up.

Twice More, with Feeling

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twin-26.gifRelocated games, doubleheaders of consequence, and a whole wack of day games. Sounds good to me.

Daylight Delights: Delightful things all over the sked today. Roy Halladay will delight and entertain the appreciative Red Sox fans that haven't been priced out. The Rays will delight in never returning to old Yankee Stadium again. Angels fans, who really deserve something to cheer about this year, are being treated to nice little duel between King Felix and Ervin Santana. Greg Maddux will attempt to keep the Dodgers win streak alive in Colorado, only Aaron Cook and a bad Rockies team stand in his way. Mostly excellent Nick Blackburn faces mostly terrible Radhames Liz in Baltimore. The O's are finally showing that they suck as badly as most people expected before the season started.

Doing Double Duty: With a giant storm sitting over the mid-west, how many of these games will even be played? The Tigers and White Sox are playing two today, Justin Verlander and Javier Vasquez doing battle in game one while Kenny Rogers and Jon Danks go in game two. More rain would really complicate the stretch drive for the White Sox. Another rain out would find the Tigers roster eating themselves into such a state that I doubt they'll play another game all year. The Wild Card showdown in Philadelphia gets Joe Blanton and Dave Bush contesting who can throw the straightest fastball in game one. Game two sees Brett Myers taking on Jeff Suppan.

Moved to the high ground: The high ground that is 90 miles from the away teams stadium. It's bad enough being an Astro, why add this indignity? The Cubs and Astros are going to actually play a game today, in Milwaukee of course. Carlos Zambrano goes against the lukewarm Randy Wolf. Expect MLB officials to force Bernie Brewer into a bearsuit by the third inning.

Are there really only two weeks left in the season? Enjoy these Sundays, relish these final opportunities that carefree baseball present. You'll miss it when it's gone.
rockybeach.jpgThere were so many games played yesterday that each one seems like just another pebble on a beach.

Twins 12 x2, Orioles 2,6: What better way to gain ground than have your opponents playing WiiFit in the clubhouse all day. That and a trip to Baltimore. The Twins slowly added runs for their first decisive win only to jump right out to a huge lead in the second. The Twins and Sox are now tied in the Central but the Sox have two crucial games in hand. Can you have games in hand in baseball? The Royals had the Indians in their hand all day, sweeping their doubleheader. Cliff Lee didn't pitch, so the Indians front office doesn't care.

Dodgers 5, Rockies 1: Somebody should wake up the Diamondbacks and tell them the season is almost over. The Dodgers surely took notice and have served notice on the rest of the league. Winners of 4 in a row and 9 of 10, they moved 4.5 games ahead of the DBacks on the back of Clayton Kershaw. He hasn't been very consistent, but when he's good he's very good. The Diamondbacks lost to the Reds in extras, without games against the Dodgers they look to be in trouble. Tim Lincecum is still awesome. 12K complete game? Give him an increasingly meaningless award.

Rays 7, Yankees 1: The Rays welcomed Evan Longoria back in time to take game one against the Yankees but drop the second. Ben Zobrist's tetra-tot should have been enough, but the plucky Yankees scraped out a win. The Jays and Red Sox doubleheader went just like the Rays/Yanks. Big win for the second-class citizens in game one, big boys come from behind in game two. Dustin Pedroria's 50th double of the season was also his 200th hit, joining Tris Speaker and Wade Boggs in an exclusive Crimson Hose Club. Whether you hate Pedroria or merely dislike him, that is pretty impressive company. The Jays are done ya'll, but Travis Snider is the future.

Phillies 7, Brewers 3: The pitching match up between Parra and Hamels clearly wasn't in the cards when Manny Parra couldn't get out of the second inning. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Braun hit balls over fences while the only other offense for the Brewers came from Jason Kendall. That is not a good sign. Stop me if you've heard this one before: the Mets bullpen blew a game for Johan Santana. The Mets picked up the second game of their doubleheader to stay 2.5 games up on the Phillies. With a bullpen like this, it's a good thing the Mets haven't experienced any kind of epic collapse that may undermine their confidence for rest of the year.

The AL West is done, and Ike disqualified two NL Central teams, so consider that an even distribution of The Gas Face. Today's a boring day with only one doubleheader. Boo baseball, you can do better than that.

K-Rod Sets Saves Record

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Congratulations are in order for Francisco Rodriquez. He pitched himself into a jam with a three run lead for the 58th time this season, breaking Bobby Thigpen's 18 year old record. No question he's had an excellent season; but If he wins the Cy Young, I quit.

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(Photo courtesy of teh Yahooz)
tatertots.jpgJorge Cantu's 25th home run of the year was an interesting one. It gave all four member of the Marlins starting infield at least 25 for the year, a first in big league history. An excellent achievement for any ball club, especially one operating on a shoestring. Marlins manager Fredi Gonzales kept the focus on team success, playing down the feat:
They will go down in history. These guys have got their names in the Hall of Fame. It should be. This was big, and I'm glad to be part of it.
While their offense is nice, they also represent one of the worst defensive infields in baseball (compared here to the Phillies) which goes along way to explain their winning record despite sporting a negative run differential. Sleazy owner Jeffry Loria praised his young team for hanging in this year, winning enough games to secure public funding for a new ballpark.

The Marlins run their team unlike any other in baseball. Free from the restrictive burdens of pleasing or having fans; they are able to reshuffle the deck every year with the lure of big contracts in other cities to get the most out of cheap, young guys or reclamation projects. Each record-setting infielder came to the Marlins in a different, cheapskatey way. Blue chipper exchanged for a superstar, non-roster invitee, rule 5 scumbag and home-grown throw-in draft pick. The Marlins were wise enough to lock up Hanley Ramirez long term (and now dealing with the repercussions), but Cantu and Uggla are both due raises at the end of the year. Most teams would try to find a way to keep this dynamic foursome together, but the Marlins have plenty of other scrubs in the pipeline to trot out in the rain.

(Coke Zeros to Stoeten of Drunk Jays Fans, for the thoughts on the Marlins business model)

So Much Baseball

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twoheaded.jpgSo many games today I can barely keep track. Enough time wasting, let's have a look

Ernie Banks has no need to refill his current Cialis prescription: SIX doubleheaders today thanks to yesterday's rainouts. The Jays and Sox were actually scheduled to play two today, the rest are just biters. The Jays took game one behind AJ Burnett and thanks to Travis Snider. The Rays and Yankees are also double-dippin' in a day/night stylee, the Rays holding a big lead through 6. The Indians and Royals are scheduled for two, but game one has been greatly delayed, putting game two in doubt. The Twins and O's are going the more traditional route, getting their first game under way at 5 Eastern with game to follow.

Fox Refuses to Participate in Free Baseball Giveaway: Two of the three Fox games are front halves of double headers, but you aren't getting game two for free. The Mets and Braves give the big audience a treat by starting Johan Santana and dare I say it, the rejuvenated Mike Hampton. A look at Mike's numbers put to rest any talk of juvenation. At least he's breathing! The White Sox and Tigers have similar offenses but give the Sox the edge because they've actually retired some batters this year. Kenny Rogers and Javier Vasquez go in game one, Zach Miner and Lance Broadway in the second. The biggest series of the weekend pits the Brewers and the Phillies in a battle for the Wild Card. Manny Parra and Cole Hamels will have my full and undivided attention, should I deign to offer it.

These Lazy Sods are Only Playing Once: Hopefully these players will use all their free time today donating blood, clothes and food with the local Red Cross. The National League offers all the quality duels today, with Edinson Volquez hooking up with Randy Johnson while Tim Lincecum and Chris Young making sweet love in a giant pitcher's park. Will K-Rod break the record tonight? Free agent to be Jon Garland hopes so. The Mariners send one of their great white hopes Ryan Feierabend to take on the AL West division champs.

Holy Shit! Baseball everywhere. I'm excited. You should be too.
triplethreat.jpg

A move that had been long rumoured was finalized Friday when the DIamondbacks agreed to send famously mediocre Micah Owings to Cincinnati to complete the Adam Dunn trade.

The Reds were looking to fill Dunn's role as a Three True Outcome guy and couldn't resist Owings, who offers three outcomes at the plate and from the mound. Reds GM Walt Jocketty excitedly spoke of his most recent acquisition this afternoon:

21 strikeouts in 58 plate appearances? Solid. 2.12 K/BB with a 23% line drive rate in a hitter's park? Super. Home run, strike out, walk. Bingo, bango, bongo. His 89 OPS+ is eerily reminiscent of his 77 ERA+. We feel like we're getting a real two-way threat here today.
The identity of the missing piece was held back due to Owings experiencing shoulder trouble. New manager Dusty Baker expressed delight over the acquisition of another quality injured arm and ill-fitting leadoff hitter rolled into one.
handshake.jpgLike a true glutton for punishment, I approached Red Sox fan and compulsive gambler Camp Tiger Claw about a wager on the outcome of this weekend's Jays/Sox series. You see, my Blue Jays are flying quite high of late, winning 11 of 12 games and pushing their way into the periphery of the Wild Card race. The Jays winning streak was against only winning teams; making them seem closer than they really are and allowing me to look down my nose at the Astros. Drunk on the allure of Meaningful Baseball in September, I jumped at the chance to suffer in a public forum.

It was decided that the loser would have to post a video showcasing the most agonizing moment in his team's history. The kind of agony that only Youtube can express. This being a four game series, and the Jays needing no fewer than three wins to remain in striking distance, there will be no ties. A split series means a suffering Barber.

With game 1 already a painful memory, the Jays needs to sweep the doubleheader before I can rely on mighty Roy Halladay to save my dignity. Sounds unlikely. Just like the Jays playoff chances (1.3% fuck you very much).
god_listens_to_slayer.jpgHere's hoping this fine Saturday Morning finds you and yours safe and well. In honour of all the people displaced by this terrible storm, and in spite of the storm raining out our beloved baseball games, I'm putting in some overtime. That is right: short and mildly amusing recaps for all of last night's games! Fuck you Ike, proud Mary keep on burning.

Indians 12, Royals 5: Cy Young shoo-in Cliff Lee picked up 5th win of the year against the vaunted Royals. Lee cruised until the 9th; where he encountered some pot holes on the road to Statpad Town. Grady Sizemore ended his Oh-fer week with three hits, Jose Guillen hit 2 homers and next Royals savior-in-waiting Kila Ka'aihue picked up a base hit.

Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 0: Tim Wakefield's knuckler was dancing and his personal catcher was totting. Wakefield surrendered three hits and didn't let a runner reach third in 8 rainy innings. That should about do it Toronto, thanks for your time. More on the implications of this later.

Pirates 10, Cardinals 2: Never trust a grown-ass man with blond hair. Nate McClouth went crazy with a dinger, a triple, a double, and 5 RBI. Pat Maholm had a solid night, allowing 2 runs in eight innings but canceling that out with 2 hits and 2 RBI. Poor Andy LaRoche, who's three hits I celebrated last Sunday, hasn't got one since. Jeff Karstens doesn't like all this pressure.

Marlins 2, Nationals 1: How did the rainiest place without a roof manage to get a game in last night? A fine game it was. Jorge Cantu hit a noteworthy home run that put the Marlins ahead in a low-scoring pitcher's duel. Shairon Martis struck out 9 Fish in 5 innings but took the loss. He's the guy that sort of pitched a no-hitter in the World Baseball Classic. He's going to be alright, as is Scott Olsen. He goes to bed a winner tonight for the first time since July 10th.

Dodgers 7, Rockies 2: The Dodgers stayed hot and stayed on top of their division. Manny and Andre Either predictably picked up 4 hits while Matt Kemp and James Loney drove the important runs home. Either has added more than 80 points to his OPS in September with his Dodgers losing just once in that span. You hear that Weinstein? EITHER RUNS LA.

Diamondbacks 3, Reds 2: When the DBacks brought Adam Dunn in for offense, I don't think this is what they had in mind. A bases loaded walk followed by a wild pitch was enough "offense" for the Snakes to beat the Reds. Brandon Lyon's first two outs of the ninth were easy but the third was elusive. The two runners he left came around to score, but Chad Qualls struck out Jerry Hairston to end the game.

Rangers 7, A's 0: This ain't your kid sister's Teagarden. The Rangers are flush with powerful catchers with ridiculous names. Taylor Teagarden's 4th home run since being called up has given him a leg-up on Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "Salty" hasn't played since Taylor arrived, the only person more angry about it is the clubbie with the bloodied stitching fingers. Hank Blalock homered for the third straight game, his first since moving to first base. Hammering Hank is surprisingly only 27, hopefully he can stay healthy at the lukewarm corner. Matt Harrison pitched his first career shutout in this pasting of the A's.

Giants 5, Padres 2: Somebody break up the Giants! Winners of 6 outta 7, the Giants beat up on Poor Jake Peavy with offense from all over. Even Omar Vizquel added two knocks! He's hitting a cool .196, more than twice his weight so the other players don't hassle him too badly. Travis Ishikawa homered, continuing his second excellent September audition. Might he be a good offensive piece for the Giants future? Might he be part of a package to lure Ken Griffey Jr away from the White Sox in the winter? Only the voices in Brian Sabean's head know the truth.

Angels 5, Mariners 3: Miguel Batista has transformed from tragically misunderstood artiste to tragically miscast baseball player. The author of the great American religious vampire novel gave up a walkoff jack to Mike Napoli in the bottom of the ninth. Joe Saunders pitched 6 excellent innings that may not have earned him a win, but might save his job for the postseason. Francisco Rodriquez pitched a bullpen session in hopes of being credited with another save.

That is it for last night. Obviously Hurricane Ike gets the Gas Facing of a lifetime. There are about 40 games today, all with playoff implications. I'm feeling particularly frisky, so check in early and often. Our thoughts remain with everyone in Galveston today, take some time to call your Mom if you get a chance. She'd like to here from you. I'll just shout up the furnace vent.

Holy Mountains

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sweepingbaby.jpgThe Sun! The Sun! The hurricanes have subsided for a day or two. Why not join me on the happiest beach on earth? You could stay home and enjoy a myriad of days games instead.

Sweep up the Storm Surge Debris: Who said athletes don't get involved in community projects? The Jays, White Sox, and Dodgers would all love to lend a helping hand. The A's are also available to assist on their super-strange Sunday off. Two games sweeps don't count otherwise.

Fun in Teh Sunz: Last year Aaron Harang was 16-6. A lose today and he'll be hard-pressed to finish 6-16. The Cubs sudden interest in palindromes surely has nothing to do with their playoffs. Chris Young and Manny Parra makes for an intriguing if unsexy match up in Milwaukee. Can Cliff Lee cement his Cy Young status with his 21st win? Not if OG (Original Grienke) has anything to say about it!

The West Coast Scoffs at your Inclement Weather: All anybody west of the Rockies needs are some tasty waves, cool buds and theyre fine. Not fine: getaway day in Texas. The Red Sox look to avoid melting ahead of their big time tilt with the Rays. Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer offer a glimpse inside the future of the NL West. Mike Mussina doesn't need a 20 win season to prove his worth to Cooperstown, but the BBWAA sure likes to see that sort of crap.

Hit the Big Time: The Phillies and Mets are so famous, they are going to play two games today! Just like at your local Dennys, they're letting the old people for first before clearing the place out to prepare for the night rush. Pedro and Jamie Moyer? Expect hot hip-breaking action. Cole Hamels and Johan Santana? Expect everything you like about baseball, minus the hyperbole.

Lots to like this afternoon. I'm off to watch Matt Garza slap the Jays around for the 13th time this year. Rocco is starting, I'm smiling. The Bosses will be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled programming.

giant-fish.jpgWhat happened last night while you were giving me all you had.

White Sox 7, Angels 6: The big showdown between John Lackey and Gavin Floyd didn't really materialize, but a hell of a ball game did. Francisco Rodriquez blew his chance at save number 55 in a game featuring lots of tots, none bigger than Jim Thome's walk off jobbie in the bottom of the 15th inning. Number 537 of his career moved him past Mickey Mantle on the all-time list, and moved the White Sox 2.5 games ahead of the Twins. The Twinkies bullpen served up some hot, fresh tots of their own in the eighth inning of a tie game. Curtis Granderson and Mighty Magglio did the damage for the Tigers, Magglio adding a double and a triple to his total base bodycount. Fernando Rodney decided to load the bases before retiring Mauer, Morneau and a dozen aging Tigers fans.

Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 2: For the second time in a week, Derek Lowe and Chad Billingsley beat the D-Backs best pitchers in consecutive games. For the second time in a week, Brandon Webb walked more than 5 Dodgers, and surrendered more than 6 runs. The Dodgers are now in first place while the Snakes need to figure out what the eff is up. Manny knows what's up, he drove in five fellow Dodgers with a home run and a double. The Giants scored a bunch of runs the day after they didn't score any. Stout-hearted farm hand Nate Schierholtz has a hit in every game he's played since his call-up, including three today. Andy LaRoche knocked three hits in the dogged pursuit of hitting his weight. The Bucs are being proactive and just cutting his meal stipend in half.

Jays 7, Rays 4: The Rays are lucky they don't have any fans, because it's heart-in-mouth time for the Devil Rays. The scant few Rays fans are lucky to have their complete lack of history to spare them recognizing the epic collapse in their future. The best bullpen in baseball sputtered and spit, walking Rays and coughing up a lead. But Gregg Zaun struck back for his battery mates, hitting a game winning quadradong in the 13th inning. The Jays have won 7 in row, just in time for nobody to give a shit. The Yankees sent the Mariners toppling from the lofty heights of future promise by smacking home runs early and often. Joba Chamberlain showed some rust in the eighth but Mariano Rivera showed he isn't human in slamming the door shut again.

Brewers 1, Padres 0: The Brewers may have a cracked a new Moneyball-type code. Get as many contract year pitchers as you can find, promise them a way out of Milwaukee, and wind'em up and watch'em go! Ben Sheets ensured a 9 digit payday helped his team towards the wild card with a complete game five-hitter. Jake Peavy held his own with the meager tools he was given. The Cubs snapped their losing streak all over the Great American Ballpark. This game was downright respectable until the 6th, at which point the Cubs went crazy, hitting dongs (even Marquis!) and scoring 11 runs in final 4 frames. Alfonso Soriano is one of the streakiest hitters in baseball, so his three home runs yesterday bode well for the Cubs stretch drive.

Rangers 15, Red Sox 8: You come to Walkoff Walk for the cutting edge analysis, right? Like yesterday, when I bravely predicted many runs between two of the best offenses in baseball, in a jetstream-affected stadium with a knuckleball pitcher prominently involved. Peter Gammons called me at home and said he wanted to shake my hand. Tim Wakefield only got 5 dudes out, walked 4 and allowed 7 to score. He walked two straight batters with the bases loaded in the second, causing some other writers to post a wacky video set to a slightly more wacky song. The A's and Orioles managed to play once yesterday, much to the chagrin of the Orioles. Jack Cust hit two dingers in front of 3 dozen reporters in rain slickers.

The two best teams in your division were rained out? The NL East will share the Gas Face with Tropical Storm Hanna today, hopefully Hanna will run out to sea with embarrassment. There is much still to be decided today, we'll look into it this afternoon.
02-01+Perfect+storm.jpgMister Tiger Claw asked yesterday about his raincoat with good reason. Hanna has relocated from Montana to directly above numerous baseball stadiums. Dammit weatherfolk, some of these games are Meaningful. It's September after all.

A Roof! On a baseball stadium! Heretics! There were two games planned for the wee smalls today, but Baltimore faces a deluge of rain rather than illicit narcotics. Game one the Orioles/A's doubleclash is OFF, with no makeup date announced. The Jays and Rays are the only show in town, playing beneath a retractable roof that didn't retract in time last night. The excellent James Shields takes on the once excellent, but recently returned from a minor league "mechanical correction" stint Shawn Marcum. The Jays are winners of 6 in a row; their longest streak in four years!

The Fox Network hates the rain, somehow implicates Obama in game canceling conspiracy: Poor Rupert. They had a big-time match up to beam into homes all across this great nation, but the liberal meteorological media forced a cancellation. Fox now must choose between the Twins and Tigers (fly over states, no penetration in the major markets) and the Snakes & Dodgers (will play well with Hispanic base, will have to suffice.) Brandon Webb could go a long way to righting the Desert ship against Chad Billingsley. A win for him would be his 20th, a win for the Dodgers would put them into first place. The Twins will have to get through Justin Verlander if they want to keep pace with the White Sox.

Tempt fate and head out the ballpark: How many of these games will go as planned? The O's/A's aren't ready to give up on the night cap, it's still on the sked. How about big men Jake Peavy and Ben Sheets locking horns in Milwaukee? Jake Peavy looks like he just stepped out of a time machine, as more people should. John Lackey and Gavin Floyd should provide another excellent match up with something to play for. Wakefield pitching in Texas? Could be interesting if the wind is blowing. Luckily for the Sox, the Rangers will counter with a Rangers pitcher, meaning all bets are off. If you can figure out Jason Marquis, feel free to explain it to me and any Cubs fan. One day is going to the bullpen, next time out he's great. He goes today with Johnny Cueto offering the resistance. Roy Oswalt and Jeff Francis would be a great match up, were Jeff Francis not terribly awful this year. Oswalt is still good, even if the Astros aren't. Yankees and Mariners play the sole late game tonight; every Sidney Ponson start brings the end of his career mercifully closer.

Stay dry, my friends. Enjoy the games while I lament not enjoying Burn After Reading at the film festival. Bummer.
poutine.jpgWhat happened last night while you took your sweet time getting to the ocean.

Phillies 3, Mets 0: You like the big games, huh? So does Brett Myers. They get him so fired up, he could snap at any time. Hopefully he joined his teammates on Coney Island last night for some tension-releasing skeeball after their big win over the Mets. Myers stuck out 10 in 8 innings, looking damn fine in the process. Brad Lidge made the 9th interesting but stranded two for the save, bringing the Phils a game closer in the division. The Marlins are like your little brother; trying hard to get in the game with the big boys, failing to realizing that you don't care if he plays or not. Sure he's out there, but you only notice if he's bleeding. Mike Jacobs tied the game with a 9th inning tot, allowing the Fish to win it in 11. They're not out of the race, but they aren't in it either.

Mariners 3, Yankees 1: Remember when a wise blogger implored Marinerds not to give up hope, that Brandon Morrow would return? Well return he did, carrying a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Yankees in his first career start. Kid was off his ass, throwing his trademark smoke and spotting his off-speed stuff all night. He surrendered just one hit and left the game wishing Brandon Morrow was still in the bullpen to nail down the win. JJ Putz made it scary, but he made it out alive. Andy Pettitte was excellent in a losing cause, retiring the final 11 M's he faced. The Angels got waxed like your sister before a theme party, but their magic number still went down like your sister at a theme party via a loss by the second place (!) Texas Rangers.

Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 0: I know clutch is bullshit, but Derek Lowe certainly seems like he pitches better as the stakes rise. The stakes is high in the NL West right now so Derek Lowe blew the Snakes away in Derek Lowe-ish fashion, inducing 13 ground ball outs. 8 innings of 2 hit ball is just what the kindly retired man that fills out the lineup card ordered. Also bullshit; lineup protection! Don't tell Andre Either that, the kid had 2 doubles and a tater-tot with Manny absently tracking the proceedings from the on deck circle. Either's added 100 points of OPS in the second half of the season; something Scott Boras will add into his negotiating price. The Rockies served notice that they are still very much out of the race by beating Corey Patterson 2.0 and the Astros behind more barely above-average pitching from Ubaldo Jimenez.

Jays 6, Rays 4: If the Jays are spoilers, I'd be worried about the Rays playing the role of soilers. They have a solid lock on a playoff spot; they also have a very tough schedule down the stretch. Road games (17 of 24) and tough opponents (6 Sox, 4 Twins, 3 Yanks, 2 Jays) will ensure the Rays earn their first playoff birth. 2 Alex Rios tots were the Rays undoing tonight; that and the inimitable Roy Halladay. Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell have returned to make their "undercooked roast at the Friar's club"-styled contribution to soiled sheets in Central Florida. Lowell went 3 for 5 and knocked in 4, Beckett threw 80 pitches (49 strikes) over 5 shut out innings propelling the Red Sox past the Rangers. They're only 2.5 games back with the 6 previously mentioned head-to-head games remaining.

Brewers 3, Padres 2: Sometimes a win feels like a loss. Sometimes you want Eric Gagne shipped back to Canada in a poutine-powered Pontiac. Sometimes you have to say "Hey Ned Yost, can't you see that he is terrible? He knows it, he knows the thigh-high fastball right down the gut is going out, why don't you Ned?" J.J. Hardy had the Brewers walking off, but the awful taste of Gagne remains in the mouths of cheese mavens everywhere. The Cubs believe they've raised the expectation level high enough to bust out a six game losing streak. This time the young Reds imitated the old Reds, hitting dingers and scoring runs. Studs Jay Bruce and Joey Votto gave Reds fans reason for hope, as they have most of the year. The lead is down to 4 for the Cubbies with many a road game ahead. Worrisome indeed.

Carlos Quentin, you let the whole division down. Justin Morneau hit a tetra-tot; but it isn't enough to keep The Gas Face at bay. Punching a bat Carlos? Had the Sox not straight jacked you from the D-Backs, they'd be pissed. I'd be pissed if there wasn't tonnes more baseball coming today!

(I owe a poutine to this epicurean for the photo)