A 106-year-old World War I veteran threw out the ceremonial first pitch before their May 7 game with the White Sox at Rogers Centre. The best part was when the vet reminisced about sneaking into the ballpark as a kid to see Julio Franco play.
A 9-3 homestand has them dreaming of their first winning season since 1992, when Phil Garner was running things and they were still in the AL. The fans have yet to be convinced, though. They've already had seven crowds smaller than 14,000. Using the term "crowd" loosely, of course.
Home runs are down by nearly nine percent this season, and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has a ready explanation. "Barry Bonds," he said, referring to the injured Giants slugger. "That's your nine percent right there." Huh. And most folks thought it was just that steroid-testing business.
Filling in for Lloyd McClendon (who was attending his daughter's graduation from college), bench coach Pete Mackanin was in a celebratory mood after the Bucs' 4-2 win on Sunday over the Brewers. "We're all going to Dairy Queen," he said. Peanut Butter Parfaits rule!
When Ivan Rodriguez lost some 30 pounds over the winter, he apparently shed some pop, too. The catcher formerly known as Pudge has just three home runs this season -- one since April 22 -- and is hitting all of .173 in May.
We told you about Bobby Abreu's ill-fated engagement with former Miss Universe and reality TV sex star Alicia Machado. Since the breakup, he's been red hot, hitting .444 with 10 homers and 23 RBIs in May. Hell hath no fury like a player porned.
Carlos Zambrano has a sore elbow. Yes, the same Carlos Zambrano who averaged 111 pitches in his first seven starts, including 136 in a complete-game win May 8. Don't worry -- Kerry Wood can recommend a good doctor.
Sure, they've struggled on the field, but the Tribe certainly know their tetrominoes. Thanks to closer Bob Wickman, nearly half the team has become hooked on a handheld version of Tetris, the classic video game. OK, we just wanted an excuse to use the word "tetrominoes."
Jeremy Reed got lost on the subway trying to get to Yankee Stadium last week, riding almost to Coney Island before realizing his error. "I wasn't scared, but I was worried," he said. "I was worried I wouldn't get to the park in time." Not scared? Two words for you, Jeremy: The Warriors.
They erupted for 13 runs in two weekend wins over San Francisco -- just two fewer than they've scored in Roger Clemens' eight starts this season. And of those 15, Clemens knocked in two. Nah, he's not interested in going to a contender.
How about Eric Byrnes tackling one of those fans who ran onto the field in Oakland over the weekend? Ken Macha wasn't amused, but P.A. announcer Roy Steele had some fun with it. When Byrnes next stepped to the plate, Steele said, "Now batting, right defensive back Eric Byrnes."
Did we mention that home runs are down? Tell it to the Reds, who have allowed a major league-high 59 dingers in 39 games. That projects to 245 for the season, which would break the record of 241 set by the 1996 Tigers. Hey, everybody needs goals.
In a game last week, reliever Rob Bell threw five pitches. One went to the backstop, two bounced and one nearly nailed batter Paul Konerko. Mused Bell: "Sometimes your grip on the ball and sometimes your grip on the game is under your hat." As we used to say, that's deep. Four days later, Bell went on the DL. For personal reasons.
You want schizophrenic? OK, silly question. Nonetheless, Jeff Francis is 5-0 with a 2.74 ERA in eight career daytime starts but 1-3 and 8.40 in six starts after the lights go on. "Maybe it's breakfast," he said. "Maybe I should start eating breakfast for dinner." Maybe. We've heard Wheaties are good.
Frank White, Larry Bowa, Jim Fregosi, Grady Little, Bud Black, Jerry Manuel, Gene Lamont, Terry Collins, Art Howe, Jimy Williams, Jim Leyland. So many names are being bandied about as candidates to succeed Tony Pena, the list reads like a lost verse of We Didn't Start the Fire.
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