The Commish Online                                                                                
BLOG ARCHIVE:  08/01/07 - 08/31/07
New York loves to boast about their cross town rivalry, but their true rivalries fled for the west coast decades ago and the Mets are still relatively new in baseball's historical sense.  Chicago has been fortunate (unfortunate?) to be stuck with the Cubs and White Sox together for over a century, yielding ONE World Series combined during most of our lifetimes.  Nevertheless, being long time neighbors has brewed long time hatred for another.

Recently, South Side fans have enjoyed the majority of the trash talking thanks to that '05 title, but the tide has turned in '07, and a White Sox fan's best strategy is silence, because this year's version of the White Sox just plain stink.  Read the latest Hot Corner for more.

The Cubs caught the Brewers, the Padres caught the Diamondbacks, the Phillies are on the verge of catching the Mets, and some dude in California built a baseball field in his backyard without asking and now has to take it all down.  Elsewhere, a prankster in Ohio gets suspended for getting opposing fans to admit "We Suck" thanks to plenty of signs of 20 hours of legwork.  So much for rewarding ingenuity in high schools.

Barry still number 2?  Or number 12?
According to the always reliable source, The Onion, Hank Aaron and other legends were credited with some "lost" home runs, increasing their totals.  Who would have thought Home Run Derby would matter so much?!

Those pesky Rockies just won't go away, still just 4.5 games behind in the Wild Card standings, but if they make it, they will earn it: 14 of their remaining games are against Arizona and San Diego, two of the best teams in the National League.  Despite having several teams between them and current Wild Card leader San Diego, the Rockies still control their destiny to a degree because of the many head to head matchups against playoff positioned teams.

Most of you reading this likely grew up with baseball on TV, and one of the pioneers in making games available nationally was WTBS, broadcasting lowly Atlanta Braves to just about everyone with a cable box in the 80's.  That's where I developed my fandom for Dale Murphy, Bob Horner, Rick Mahler, and the rest of a group of hard playing guys who accepted last place with grace seemingly year after year.  The end of an era is close, as TBS ends its partnership with the Braves this year to focus on MLB-wide national games next year and beyond.  AJC has the rest of the story.

When The Commish isn't watching or writing about baseball, he spends time with his family.  Last Friday, like millions of other parents, he spent his family time Disney-style, watching High School Musical 2 with his daughters.  Surprisingly, HSM2 delivers the goods that are so hard to come by - entertainment safe for the whole family.  Read the latest Foul Territory for the whole story.

Last night continued what has been one of the strangest weeks in baseball history in terms of streaks and records.  Mark Reynolds, Garret Anderson, Bobby Jenks, Micah Owings, Brandon Webb, etc.  And now THIRTY (30) runs by the Rangers - the same team that was no-hit by the lowly White Sox earlier this year.

Rather than spewing forth all the remarkable feats in last night's game (my two favorites are that someone got a save in the game decided by 27 runs and Baltimore's team ERA dropped from 7th in the A.L. to 11th after just one game... in late August), recaps most of them handily.

Last night was filled with quite a few highs and lows around the league.  Most notably on the high side was Garret Anderson's 10 RBIs, thanks to 2 doubles and 2 home runs.  Anderson, who has quietly put together a steady career, claimed the curtain call he received was his first ever.

On the low side, Mark Reynolds of the Diamondbacks tied a major league record last night by striking out in 9 straight plate appearance over the past 4 games.  Adding injury to insult, the streak was snapped in the 6th inning thanks to a HBP courtesy of starter Dave Bush.

Johan Santana struck out 17 batters yesterday as the Twins beat the Rangers 1-0.  What is odd about the feat is that Santana only gave up 2 hits, both of them to the slimmed down version of Sammy Sosa.  The oddity comes in that during Mark Buerhle's no hitter earlier this year, the only baserunner allowed was a walk to... yup, the unlikely Sammy Sosa.

Arizona and Seattle are doing some amazing things this year, but in both cases the numbers go deeper than just wins and losses.  The Commish thinks that one team will continue to beat the odds while the other will fall gently by the wayside.  Which one will survive?  What odds are being defied?  Check out the latest Hot Corner for all the answers!

Forgotten by many already, it was Minnesota who won the AL Central last year, one game ahead of Detroit who led much of the year.  It was forgotten because it was irrelevant in this age of the wild card when it became clear both teams would be playing in October regardless of their standing.  This year, however, as long as Seattle and New York continue their winning ways, the Central will be something to watch a month from now.  Cleveland and Detroit are battling it out for the division, but this time the loser may likely be watching the playoffs from home.  THAT is what a pennant race should be, and I will be watching intently.  Hopefully you will too.

The White Sox have been out of the playoff race since Detroit and Cleveland left them in their wake in April, but you can't blame closer Bobby Jenks for the demise of the Pale Hose.  Yesterday, Jenks tied a major league record known by very few but impressive nonetheless:  Jenks has retired 41 straight batters dating back to July 17.  It's not quite the same as a starter throwing a perfect game, knowing he has to face the same lineup 3 times in a row, but 13+ innings of perfect baseball is impressive from any type of pitcher at the major league level.

With the streak still intact, the national media will likely take more notice if Jenks can reach 54 straight batters, the equivalent of two consecutive perfect games.

With about 50 games left, almost half of the teams still believe they are playoff bound.  Looking at most of the teams in first place, I can't say I fault them.  If ever there was a year for a team several games UNDER .500 to continue believing, 2007 is it.  As bad as the Cardinals have been, if they can find ANY semblance of pitching to go along with Pujols and company, erasing a 5.5 game deficit over Milwaukee may not be all that far fetched considering it is only August 10th.  In the A.L., Minnesota is struggling to remain above .500 but find themselves just 6.5 games behind a suddenly vulnerable Cleveland team.  With a healthy Santana on the mound every fifth day, moving into wild card contention or even catching Cleveland is not out of the question.

Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's home record last night against the Nationals and pitcher Mike Bacsik.  You can read about it anywhere, but Mitch Albom is always a good place to start.

Bonds' storied past is a perfect demonstration how athletes will do anything in their power to get to the next level.  For Bonds, the next level was moving from star to home run legend.  For guys like Colorado pitcher Jason Hirsh, the next level means simply staying in the big leagues.  For Hirsh, that means sometimes he might have to pitch with a little pain.  Or discomfort.  Or a broken leg!

It was a busy weekend in baseball.  500 home runs for Arod.  300 wins for Glavine.  An unfortunate injury for Soriano and the Cubs.  And, oh yeah, Bonds tied Hank Aaron.  Like Sammy Sosa's 600th home run, much of the reaction to Bonds was indifference.

Getting back to the feelgood story, Tom Glavine's 300th win should be properly noted for its historical context.  Glavine became only the fifth left hander to reach to hallowed milestone, and popular opinion suggests that he might be the last pitcher ever to see 300. 

I don't know that I would make that claim, simply because we don't know how the future of baseball will play out.  No one could have foreseen such a conservative approach to arms that we have today.  Maybe in the future, rotations will be built around 3-men rotations whose job is to throw 5 or 6 innings, capped at 85 pitches so they stay fresh.  Then the give way to a group of specialized relievers also on a specific schedule.  That would enable pitchers to start 50+ games each year, and suddenly 300 doesn't seem so insurmountable anymore.  Never say never, but in the meantime, Glavine should bask in knowing that he has become part of very select company.  Bonds should do the same, even if no one is basking with him...

Stories are only as big as the celebrity involved in them.  Case in point: while everyone seems to be doing everything they can to find hard evidence on Barry Bonds, Neifi Perez has been suspended 80 games thanks to his THIRD positive test for a banned stimulant.  Somehow, I don't think sports talk shows will be inundated with calls spouting opinions about the effect Neifi Perez has had on the game.

The trade deadline has passed and many deals were completed yesterday, with the Braves making the most significant moves, acquiring Mark Teixeira, Ron Mahay, and Octovio Dotel to strengthen their glaring weaknesses.

Trade deadline deals are far from a playoff guarantee.  Adding a player or two to an already decent team can upset team chemistry, put undue pressure on the new players, or simply not be enough to overtake other teams.  Still, as a fan, it is nice to see your team go out and fill the holes as needed, especially in a year where many teams have a realistic shot at making the World Series.

Trevor Hoffman doesn't quite see it that way, though.  His opinion is more like the former statement and doesn't appreciate the way management has upset the team chemistry.  Hoffman is a class guy, but he should realize that GM Kevin Towers is trying to help the team, not disrupt it.  Based on the players San Diego lost and who they acquired, it appears as though they added much needed depth without sacrificing any major parts of the whole.  The next two months will reveal any differences in team chemistry as the Padres try to climb back to the top of the NL West after slumping for much of July.

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