PREVIEW: When the '89 Tigers fell one loss short of the then franchise record of 104 defeats, manager Sparky Anderson mused, "We were so bad we couldn't even break the record." These Tigers will get the job done.
3. Kansas City is a contender
REVIEW: The Royals haven't had a winning record in a full season since George Brett retired in 1993. They lost a franchise-high 100 games last season, then spent their available free-agent money on an Albie (Lopez) and a Desi (Relaford), presumably because they didn't have the big bucks to go after Sleepy and Grumpy. But rookie closer Mike MacDougal has nailed down games (20 saves) that K.C. used to give away, earning one of the game's best new nicknames: Mac the Ninth.
PREVIEW: The 2002 Royals were one of 125 teams since 1900 to lose 100 games in a season. Only II had a winning record the next year (the 1988-89 Orioles were the last to do so), and none of them ever reached the postseason. The Minnesota Twins, despite a baffling slump, are the better team in the American League Central, but manager Tony Pe�a will keep the Royals in the thick of the race.
REVIEW: Sosa and Texas Rangers first baseman-designated hitter Rafael Palmeiro got 500 (home runs), Bonds got 500-500 (homers-stolen bases), Yankees righthander Roger Clemens got 300 (wins) and 4,000 (strikeouts), and Atlanta manager Bobby Cox got 1,500 (wins as the Braves' skipper, not ejections).
PREVIEW: At week's end Bonds needed 26 homers for 661, which would move him ahead of his godfather, Willie Mays, into third place on the alltime list; Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Fred McGriff and Cincinnati Reds centerfielder Ken Griffey Jr. needed 12 and 24 homers, respectively, for 500. The Reds needed one more fight against a ranked opponent to crack the WBA's light heavyweight top 10.
5. The great Canadian pastime
REVIEW: The Montreal/San Juan Expos, despite touring more than Phish, are a wildcard contender. At the same time, the Blue Jays are making the Yankees and the Red Sox sweat in the AL East.
PREVIEW: The Expos have an unproven bullpen—closer Rocky Biddle is all they have to show for trading ace Bartolo Colon—and still need a hitter since Juan Gonzalez refused a trade to Montreal. (He'd rather stay in Texas with the last-place Rangers.) As long as the Expos continue to win, look for general manager Omar Minaya to try to make another deal.