I hope Chris Shelton is a Grateful Dead fan, because for the guy people were calling "The Babe" in April, what a long strange trip it's been in '06. With the recent acquisition of Sean Casey, the Detroit Tigers have sent Chris Shelton, April's home run leader, to AAA Toledo. If you owned Shelton in your fantasy league, hopefully you saw the transparency of those April dingers and dealt him soon after. If not, Mud Hens tickets are available here.
No offense to the Angels or Oakland, and some offense to the NL West, but wouldn't a playoff scenario featuring the Mets, Cardinals, and the top 3 team in the AL Central AND AL East be more intriguing than anything we might see in October?
Don't look now, but the Twins are poised to take over the lead in the AL Wild Card race. Imagine a short series in which you have to face Santana and Liriano with Joe Nathan waiting at the end of the game. It wouldn't be pretty.
In an effort to get back in the wild card race, the Atlanta Braves just acquired Cleveland closer Bob Wickman in exchange for minor league catcher Max Ramirez. The whole story can be found on ESPN.com. For the record, I can't think of a stranger combination of first and last name than Max and Ramirez. Perhaps Jacque Sanchez?
Jones keeps "chipping" away at records. Chipper Jones now is at 14 consecutive games (and counting) with an extra base hit. Not surprisingly, the Braves have won 5 in a row and are slowly sneaking up on the wild card. Jones can hold the modern day record with a double or better tonight.
With a couple more home runs in last night crazy game against San Diego, Chipper Jones now has an extra base hit in 12 straight games. The MLB record is 14 games.
Ask any White Sox fan if they regret trading away Rowand for Thome and releasing Thomas, and you're unlikely to hear a single quip of remorse. While the deals do seem to have provided Chicago with an additional offensive boost (and separated the big headed egos of Thomas and ChiSox GM Kenny Williams), the alternative would not have been as bad as White Sox fans envision. Thome is crushing the ball this year with 29 HR to date, but Frank Thomas is holding his own in Oakland with 19 HR and an OPS of .897. While Brian Anderson (Rowand's replacement in CF) is quite familiar with the south side... of the Mendoza Line (.182 BA), Aaron Rowand is playing his normal hard nosed defense and adding his typical mediocre offensive stats (.753 OPS, 8 HR, 27 RBI) to the mix in Philadelphia.
Keep in mind that Frank Thomas is making a mere $500,000 in Oakland, and you realize the difference is even more negligible. Thomas would have cost Chicago a little more, Philadelphia did help pay a significant portion of Thome's salary, and Rowand would have cost more to keep than Brian Anderson, but in the end, GM Kenny Williams would have had a few extra million in his pocket to use on some relief help while still keeping a balanced attack on offense.
The deals were still positive moves for Chicago, but don't think that the other GMs just rolled over for the White Sox: Rowand is helping anchor an impressive outfield in Philly (while Ryan Howard is filling Thome's shoes quite nicely at 1B) and Thomas is providing some much needed power in the middle of Oakland's lineup, helping them to first place in the AL West.
In a league where there are few, if any, good teams, most people believe the Mets are going to continue to run away with the division and land in the World Series. I still don't buy it. When Jose Lima and a rookie are your two starting pitchers in a double header, all is not right. I still expect Philadelphia to make a run at the Mets before all is said and done.
Road Warrior: After yesterday's victory over the A's in Oakland, Kenny Rogers has now won a remarkable 23 times in his past 24 decisions at Oakland (now McAfee) Coliseum. Overall, he is 25-4 in Oakland. He must have a bad OBP, though, because Billy Beane has yet to contact Rogers.
Too often we spend most of our time pointed out the negative and complaining about it. Kudos to Sporting News Magazine for calling out the good guys once a year. This year's edition (July 7th ed.) includes stories on Deuce McAllister, Chris Duhon, Kevin Garnett, Barry Zito, and a bunch of other athletes doing more than just spending their paychecks on Cristal and flat-screen TVs. Go grab a copy and feel good about sports again.
Looking at the All-Star snubs can get old quickly, so instead check out the interesting article on ESPN.com on the "No-Stars" by Jonah Keri. Jeff "Swing At EVERYTHING" Francoeur makes a deserved appearance on the list.