Back to the top of the PRs, where they began the season, the Sox, winners of eight straight, are feeling it. "I think the two games we lost in Kansas City [in the first week] were a wake-up call," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "All of a sudden, they paid attention and got going." So, who's going to stop them now? Any volunteers?
They're piling up the runs (only the Reds have scored more), hitting for average (tied for second in the National League with the Rockies, at .286) and smashing the ball all over the place (28 homers in 18 games, second in the NL). And they're off to the best start in franchise history. My only question is: Are these the Astros?
Keith Hernandez, TV commentator, spotting Padres trainer Kelly Calabrese in the dugout, says, "Who is the girl in the Padres' dugout?" Later he adds, "I won't say that women belong in the kitchen, but they don't belong in the dugout." He claimed he was joking -- ha! -- so we say "Who's the dope in the booth?" Just joking, you know?
Closer Keith Foulke minces no words when it comes to his possible free agency: "I'm not going to lie -- it depends on the first and the 15th." Those, baseball purists, are paydays. "It's not really up to me," he told the Boston Herald. "It's up to the guys who wear slacks every day." Thanks for not lying, Keith. Wish you would have.
Albert Pujols reached 1,000 hits more quickly than any active player not named Ichiro with a home run last Friday. Jason Isringhausen saved Saturday's game. And the Cards beat the Cubs two out of three. A solid weekend for a team still trying to find its way around new Busch Stadium.
Seemingly over their heads in the PRs, the Tigers heard it from their manager, Jim Leyland, after a loss to Cleveland. "We stunk," Leyland said. "They were ready to get on the plane and go to Oakland. If we won, it was OK. If we lost, it was OK. And that's not good enough." The Tigers are 5-1 since Leyland's rant. This guy is good.
Early in the week, Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, was shushed for cheering on his team from the press box. ("Quiet, please! Sportswriters working on clichés!") Then Derrek Lee broke his wrist on a play at first. (Furcal!) Leave it up to Greg Maddux to put an end to it all and inspire a new Cubs movie: The 40-Year-Old Stopper.
One of the guys the Reds are leaning on in Ken Griffey Jr.'s absence is Ryan Freel, a baseball handyman who wants to be thought of in Chone Figgins' class. "I am a utility player," Freel, who was in the starting lineup for most of last week, told the Cincinnati Enquirer, "but I like to think of myself as a utility player that plays every day." A starting backup? A starring understudy? Why not?
The Angels are not playing particularly well yet, so shortstop Adam Kennedy took it upon himself to chew out Casey Kotchman early last week in a between-innings dugout brouhaha caught by TV cameras. Kennedy thought first baseman Kotchman didn't go hard enough after a foul pop. "I didn't say anything," Kotchman said. "I was just listening." Solid rookie move, there.
How about this rare moment of lucidness from Barry Bonds, during one of those once-in-a-while talks with MLB.com? "I'm not trying to pass [Babe] Ruth because Ruth doesn't have the record. Hank Aaron has the record. Going past Ruth would be just like going past Mike Schmidt or anyone else in baseball. Right?" Absolutely right. So why all the fuss again?