Detroit Tigers posterboy Mike Maroth won for the first time in 10 decisions last Friday. Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images
By Dan George, SI.com
If you're the kind of person who slows down to gawk at traffic accidents, you might want to circle June 3-5 on your calendar.
Because even though you know you shouldn't, you'll want to check out the three-game series between the dregs of baseball, the Detroit Tigers and the San Diego Padres at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Tigers' jaw-dropping futility has been well documented: the 0-9 start, the 3-21 April, starter Mike Maroth's nine straight losses, the three runs-per-game average. For the ninth consecutive week, the Tabbies are No. 30 in the Power Rankings, and deservedly so.
But in the race for worst team in the majors, the No. 29 Padres are closing fast. They've lost nine of their past 10 games and finished the weekend just 4-19 in May. Only two National League teams have scored fewer runs than their 194; just one has given up more than their 294.
San Diego's young pitching staff leads the majors with 232 walks, which resulted in last week's dismissal of pitching coach Greg Booker, who didn't really think it was his fault. "You can prepare a donkey to run in the Preakness," he said, "but he probably won't run very well."
Injuries have been a factor, with starter Adam Eaton on the DL and closer Trevor Hoffman out for perhaps the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. The offense has not been immune, either: Even before the season began, a dislocated shoulder put All-Star outfielder Phil Nevin on the shelf until 2004.
San Diego entered the week 16 ½ games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West and on pace to lose a franchise-record 117 games. Meanwhile, the Tigers, who already have been shut out nine times this season, began play Monday trailing the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins by -- hey! -- 16 ½ games.
Oh, the joy of interleague play.
SI.com's Power Rankings
Atlanta Braves This isn't your father's Braves team. These guys can rake. They lead the National League with 284 runs scored -- they've scored seven or more runs 16 times already -- and are on pace to finish with their most since piling up 1,025 in 1897.
Seattle Mariners Edgar Martinez needs 17 homers and 26 doubles to join a handful of players with 2,000 hits, 1,000 walks, 500 doubles, 300 homers and a career .300 average. The others: Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, George Brett, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.
Montreal Expos They may be in ownership limbo, but manager Frank Robinson says that's not all bad. "I just manage the ballclub, and I'm left alone. No interference. I work closely with the front office, but they allow me to do my job. They help me any way possible, but they don't question me or put me on the hot seat."
Boston Red Sox Roger Clemens says he has no hard feelings toward the Sox, and the feeling apparently is mutual. New owner John Henry reportedly is considering retiring jersey No. 21 in the Rocket's honor -– an honor traditionally reserved for players who finished their careers in Boston.
San Francisco Giants When they sent 6-foot-7 first baseman Damon Minor to the Phillies for 6-7 right-hander Mike Wilson last week, assistant GM Ned Colletti told reporters, "It was a trade based on size for both teams."
Los Angeles Dodgers Everybody talks about their pitching, but the Dodgers' player defense ain't bad, either. When a fan took a run at left fielder Brian Jordan at Dodger Stadium last week, Jason Romano rushed over from center, tackled the man and gave him a few punches.
New York Yankees Since winning 20 of their first 24 games, they're 9-17, including 10 straight losses at Yankee Stadium. The once-vaunted pitching staff is struggling, none more than Andy Pettitte, who's dropped four straight and has a 7.48 ERA in May.
Minnesota Twins Can't we all just get along? Not the Twins, who already have scuffled with the A's, Royals, Devil Rays and White Sox this season. Oakland is still burning over A.J. Pierzynski's "Boo-yah!" after hitting a game-winning homer in last year's playoffs.
Oakland Athletics In 1,553 career at-bats, catcher Ramon Hernandez has never hit a triple. That makes him the major league's active leader, since Florida third baseman Mike Lowell finally tripled April 17, ending a career-long drought of 2,041 at-bats.
Chicago Cubs Only one major league pitching staff, the 1968 Cleveland Indians of Sam McDowell and Luis Tiant, ever finished with more strikeouts than hits allowed. The Cubs began this week with 437 K's and 366 hits allowed.
Kansas City Royals Miguel Asencio is on the DL with a sore elbow and Runelvys Hernandez missed a start last week for the same reason. The Royals are struggling, but manager Tony Pena insists they won't gamble with the young staff's health. "We can't push them or we won't have any starting pitchers come July," he said.
Philadelphia Phillies Even though they trail the Braves by seven games in the NL East, manager Larry Bowa thought catcher Todd Pratt's talk about a wild-card spot for the Phils was a little premature. "Nobody worries about winning the wild card in May," Bowa said.
St. Louis Cardinals Is Woody Williams your classic late bloomer or what? A pedestrian 58-62 lifetime when he joined the Cards in August 2001, the 36-year-old right-hander is 22-5 since, including 6-0 (with a 2.25 ERA) this season.
Houston Astros They're 15-8 since Adam Everett took over for Julio Lugo at shortstop. The rookie is batting .279 with four doubles, a triple, a home run, seven runs batted in and five stolen bases.
Toronto Blue Jays They lead both leagues with 305 runs scored, despite hitting just 57 homers. The Rangers, meanwhile, have bashed a major league-high 82 homers -- but have only 274 runs to show for it.
Cincinnati Reds Adam Dunn leads the majors with 17 home runs, while teammate Austin Kearns is tied for 10th with 13. Both are 23. No wonder folks in Cincinnati are starting to call them the Baby Boomers.
Anaheim Angels Give Arturo Moreno credit for making a good first impression. The Arizona businessman said his first act as the Angels' new owner will be to reduce the price of the $8.50 beers at Edison Field. "I can go around the corner and get it for a buck and a half," he said.
Baltimore Orioles David Segui came off the DL long enough last week to get into a shouting match with TV commentator and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer. After going 0-5 and stranding two runners in a 9-2 loss to Tampa Bay, Segui yelled at Palmer, "If you want to be a coach, put on a [expletive] uniform." Nice.
Chicago White Sox When Greg Walker replaced Gary Ward last week, he became the Sox's fourth hitting coach since Jerry Manuel became manager in 1998. As Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone noted, it's a little bit like being the drummer for Spinal Tap.
New York Mets Mike Piazza is probably out for the season with a groin injury, Mo Vaughn is wandering the country seeking second opinions on his arthritic knee and a Brooklyn man has been charged with stalking GM Steve Phillips. Some season -- and it's still May.
Arizona Diamondbacks Manager Bob Brenly got a little hot after ESPN's Bobby Valentine declared the D'backs out of the pennant race, but third baseman Matt Williams probably had the most sensible reaction: "It makes for a good story. First Amendment. Whatever floats your boat."
Colorado Rockies They've got to be worried about Larry Walker. He's hitting .253 with just four homers and has struck out three times in a game three times this year. Some wonder if his problems stem from offseason eye surgery so he wouldn't have to wear contacts.
Florida Marlins Jack McKeon may be 72, but he hasn't mellowed much. After the Marlins were swept by the Dodgers last week, McKeon was quick to threaten changes. "If it takes new guys in the lineup, we'll do something to shake it up," he said. " ... I want fighters."
Tampa Bay Devil Rays With the top pick in the first-year player draft, it looks like they've narrowed their choices to Camarillo (Calif.) High School outfielder Delmon Young (the younger brother of Detroit's Dmitri Young), Southern University second baseman Rickie Weeks and Dunedin (Fla.) High School outfielder Ryan Harvey.
Pittsburgh Pirates Kevin Young is hitting .210 with two homers and seven RBIs this season, all for the low, low salary of $6.5 million. So of course he blamed the Pirates' 7-18 record at PNC Park on apathetic fans.
Milwaukee Brewers Milwaukee fans wanted a curtain call after Geoff Jenkins hit his third homer of the game last week, but Jenkins declined. So Royce Clayton, mired in a 1-for-36 slump, stepped out instead and waved to the crowd. "I was feeling the love," he said.
Cleveland Indians Say what you want about how they play, but the Indians certainly don't make fans watch any longer than they have to. Tribe games are averaging 2 hours and 34 minutes this season. Only the Tigers, at 2:31, are quicker.
San Diego Padres Here's how bad things are for Bruce Bochy's team this season. On back-to-back days during the Padres' last homestand, a San Diego pitcher was hurt while warming up in the bullpen in the fifth inning.
Detroit Tigers When he hit three homers in a game against the Indians last week -– doubling his total for the season -– first baseman Carlos Pena was wearing teammate Dmitri Young's uniform pants. Said Pena: "He's not getting them back."