Yet another sign that it's just not your (read: my) year in fantasy baseball:
Two of your best hurlers (Zambrano and Perez) face each other and the result is a 1-0 victory. Perfect scenario, right? Sure, until your trusty closer (Smoltz) gives up 5 earned runs in 1/3 innings, canceling all the good that came earlier in the evening. Well, at least "you" are 2-0 in fantasy football.
For the FOURTH time this year, Ichiro had a five-hit game last night, putting him even closer (15 hits to go) to Sisler's record.
Fearless predictions for the NL races from The Commish:
(predicted wins/number of games in series)
Atlanta: CIN (1/3), FLA (2/3), NYM (2/3), @CHC (1/3)
Final record: 94-68
Los Angeles: @SD (1/3), @SF (1/3), COL (3/4), SF (2/3)
Final record: 93-69
Chicago: @PIT (3/3), @NYM (1/3), CIN (3/4), ATL (2/3)
Final record: 92-70
Houston: @SF (1/3), @MIL (3/3), STL (2/3), COL (2/3)
Final record: 91-71
San Francisco: HOU (2/3), LA (2/3), @SD (2/3), @LA (1/3)
Final record: 91-71
The Padres and Marlins have fallen too far (I have them both finishing at 87-75), so according to my predictions, LA will win the West, with Chicago squeaking by San Fran for the wild card berth. That means St. Louis will open against Los Angeles, while the Cubs and Braves will finish the season against each other, then begin a playoff series in what will be a rematch of last year's division series, except that a certain number 31 will be wearing the opposite uniform. Now that you already know what's going to happen, you can watch football until the playoffs start!
After a mini-slump, Ichiro's quest for the hits record is no longer a walk in the park. That's okay for Ichiro, because he prefers hits to walks anyway. One thing is certain: if Ichiro manages to finish the season with exactly 257 hits, he would tie the record set in 1920, which I guess you could say is the equivalent of kissing your "Sisler."
Another stat that hasn't received the press it deserves is J.C. Romero's scoreless inning streak. The Twins' middle reliever finally gave up a run last Sunday, his first since June 11th! Romero pitched 36 2/3 scoreless innings between those outings, the equivalent of over 4 consecutive complete game shutouts. Sure, starters may have it harder because they have to pitch to the entire lineup many times over in a game (which makes Orel Hershiser's streak of 59 scoreless innings even more impressive), but an inning is an inning, and a solo shot or two bloop hits could lead to a quick run, and somehow Romero avoided such circumstances for over 3 straight months.
Carlos Beltran, trying to become only the fourth "40-40" man in baseball history (40 steals and 40 home runs in the same season), has attempted 22 stolen bases with the Astros. The amount of times he's been thrown out? ZERO. Beltran only needs 2 more home runs and 4 more stolen bases to reach the elusive mark.
While everyone was paying attention to the NFL and college football, Barry Bonds hit his 699th home run yesterday and Ichiro picked up 2 more hits, bringing his season total to 231, just 26 hits short of Sisler's record.
That's why you play the games...
Looking back at the Sporting News Baseball Season Preview, all five "experts" predicted St. Louis to finish third in N.L. Central. Worse yet, senior editor Tom Gatto selected the Royals and Mariners as playoff-bound and predicted the Diamondbacks would finish second. Mr. Gatto should stick to editing and avoid fortune telling at all costs.
Boston and Houston have proven in the past 3 weeks that you should never give up on your team, no matter how remote their chances. The 'Stros and BoSox are a combined 35-5 in their past 20 games each (Sox 18-2, ;Stros 17-3). Boston now has a comfortable lead in the wild card race and suddenly has a legitimate shot at catching New York for the division lead. Houston, all but sunk several weeks ago, now is in a tie for the wild card lead. Chasing a handful of teams just a couple weeks ago, the Astros have now become the hunted.
An argument against the wild card: in the A.L. East, what would be a race of titanic proportions, with Boston surging to just 2 1/2 games back of New York, turns into only a mild interest to the national public. Why? Because even if the Yankees falter and lose the division lead, they are currently 6 1/2 up on the next wild card contender (Anaheim), so win or lose, the Yankees are likely in the playoffs. Boston also controls its destiny at this point, so there is no real "do or die" feel to the pennant race, and Florida and Anaheim have knocked the "prestige" of being a division champ down a few levels with a wild card team winning the past two World Series.
I cleaned up the Inbox a little and answered a question posed to me in spring training. Read the latest Hot Corner to find out which former White Sox players deserve to be in Cooperstown and which ones are better off buying a ticket.
By the way, Ichiro got another 3 hits yesterday.