The Windup (cont.)
It's not as if Guillen really needs a reason to go ... I don't know, all Ozzie on us. The guy goes ballistic when his omelet's not fluffy enough. But you know what should really send him off the deep end? (And, yes, I realize that some wonder how deep Ozzie's deep end really is.) Losing two of three to the godforsaken Rockies. At home. That should do it. And three straight to the perhaps not-quite-as-forsaken Tigers before that. Ozzie will be plenty primed for the Cubs.
If you were part of the Mets' upper management, would you make Willie Randolph fly all the way across the country for an interleague series against the Angels if you planned on firing him any time soon? Only, I'd think, if you were particularly mean or particularly inept, unable to make a simple decision in a timely manner. Let's hope the Mets are better than that.
And speaking of managers getting fired if getting swept, at home, by the Nationals doesn't do it to Seattle's John McLaren, the guy is charmed. I mean, I'm not pushing McLaren into the unemployment line. But, really, if a sweep by the Nats doesn't do it, nothing should.
With John Smoltz out for the year, and Tom Glavine now on the disabled list for the second time this year (and just the second in his career), this is looking less and less like the Braves' year isn't it?
Ahh, but what if Mike Hampton can make a comeback? What if the one-time stud lefty ... OK, I'm gonna cut that off right there.
If the twin troubles of Smoltz and Glavine didn't convince everybody that the mojo might be missing in Atlanta this year, that ball that ricocheted off the batting cage and into Chipper Jones' mug on Friday should have said it. Chipper's now 2-for-15 since that bounceback that blackened his eye. He is hitless in his last 11 at-bats. He's down to .402.
The Angels, as good as that record looks, have averaged fewer than four runs a game in their last 51 games, and they've scored more than five runs only once in the last 24 games. Wasn't Torii Hunter supposed to take care of that big-bat need?
If it's not time to panic in Arizona -- after losing a weekend series to the Royals and sitting on a 9-17 run since going a season-high 12-over .500 -- somebody needs to reset the clock. And flip-flopping the first two hitters in the lineup, Chris Young and Stephen Drew, isn't enough, Bob Melvin.
Yadier Molina saved a game Sunday -- and suffered a concussion -- by backhanding a terrible throw from first baseman Chris Duncan and applying a back-to-the runner tag at home. Great play by Molina that would have gone a lot more smoothly had Albert Pujols been at first.
From the Mailbag
The Brewers are starting to hit and the pitching is coming around. Can they catch the Cubs, or at least contend for the wild card?
-- Mike, Minneapolis
I love these questions because, really, I can't go wrong. Or -- more accurately -- by the time I finally do go wrong, nobody remembers. So I will confidently say that, no, the Brewers, who are 8 1/2 games out, can't catch the Cubs, who have just about everything it takes to win the National League Central title. And what the Cubs don't have, they're liable to go out and get next month. I'm not even sure that the Brewers will get past the Cardinals. And if they can't do that, we know what that means for the Brew Crew as far as the wild card goes. That's what I think. If I'm wrong, Mike, write me back in September and tell me so. Because I'll have forgotten.
It's probably a sure thing that Adrian Gonzalez won't get the fans' vote to make the All-Star team this year, but do you think he will get the players' vote? After all, he is tied for the league lead in RBI and is third in HRs, even hitting in Petco Park.
-- Joe, Simi Valley, Calif.
Tough field there in the NL at first base, eh? Berkman, Pujols, Howard, Lee. In my book -- I don't really have a book, but, you know, it's a saying -- Berkman, if he doesn't absolutely nosedive in the next couple of weeks, should get the fans' vote. Pujols is a wild card, considering he'll miss a bunch of time with that sore calf. If all things stay the same, I think the Padres' Gonzalez deserves a spot. The players ought to get him to New York.
When will the media catch on to the fact there is no such thing as "RBIs." It's RBI. Run(s) Batted In. Not Run Batted Ins. What a peeve!
-- Billy White, Coral Springs, Fla.
Wow, Billy. Remind me to stay on your good side. The grammarians among us also know that attorneys general is sometimes abbreviated AGs, and prisoners of war -- yep, POWs. I'm sure we can come up with a few more, too. Just have to accept it Billy. Sorry.
Isn't it about time the American League East gets its deserved hype as the best division in baseball? There was so much talk about the AL Central and NL West before the year started, and they have been complete duds thanks to the relatively unforeseen struggles of teams like Colorado and Detroit. From top to bottom, the AL East has teams that were either deemed potential contenders (Toronto, Boston, New York) or are significantly exceeding expectations (Tampa Bay, Baltimore). Nobody can say now that the Red Sox and Yankees get the privilege of beating up on the "lesser" teams 19 times each a year!
-- Seth, Sarasota, Fla.
True, Seth, true. Going into Sunday's games, the Blue Jays were last in the AL East with a .500 record. That would have put them in second place in the AL Central and the NL West, and in third in the NL East. So, yeah, I'll say it. The AL East is the best division in the game right now. And I think it will stay that way the rest of the year. I can see the wild card coming out of the East again, pretty easily.
How much longer are you SI writers going to hide your heads in the sand and fail to acknowledge the revelation that has been Ryan Ludwick's play with the Cards? Other than a few cursory mentions of Ludwick in earlier references to the deep St. Louis outfield, you and your .com cronies have essentially ignored this Al-Star candidate. Ludwick's stats place him among the NL top 10 in average, RBI, Slg., OPS and HR, and he has helped his team to earn the second best record in the league. It is nothing short of a joke that he is not getting more appreciation from SI.com writers.
-- Eron McLaughlin, Laramie, Wyo.
Let me point out, too, Eron (and I knew this off the top of my head) that he's sixth in extra-base hits despite a lot fewer plate appearances than the guys above him, too. He's having a career year, already with personal bests in homers and RBIs (!). I don't know if he can keep it up. His past performance suggests that he's playing a bit over his head. But the Cards had better hope that he can maintain it. They need him.