Angels manager Mike Scioscia should know better. Scioscia, who was with the Dodgers in 1988 when teammate Jay Howell was ejected from NLCS Game 3 for having pine tar on his glove, was wrong to call out Nationals manager Frank Robinson and to defend his own pitcher, Brendan Donnelly (above left), after Donnelly was caught last week with pine tar on his glove. With his team behind 3--1 in the seventh inning Robinson smartly alerted umpires to check Donnelly's glove. After his reliever was ejected, Scioscia confronted Robinson and the benches cleared. If Donnelly is breaking the rules, Robinson has every right to call him on it. And even if, as one AL All-Star infielder said, "80 percent of pitchers keep pine tar on them," that doesn't get you off the hook once you're caught.
The Rockies were aggressively fielding trade inquiries rather than waiting until the July 31 deadline. On its way to a fifth straight losing season, Colorado was close to trades that would send centerfielder Preston Wilson (right) to the Cubs (the Nationals and the Orioles also were bidding for Wilson) and reliever Brian Fuentes to the Marlins while fielding offers from the A's, Giants and Rangers for lefthander Joe Kennedy. The Rockies' goal: stock their system with prospects who are near major-league-ready in hopes of contending in 2007.
CLOSE CALL AT SHORT
Strong support from Venezuelan voters pushed native son Cesar Izturis (left) of the Dodgers barely past the Cardinals' David Eckstein for the National League starting shortstop slot in the All-Star Game. Izturis would be the first Venezuelan to be voted to start the game since second baseman Manny Trillo in 1983. Eckstein, meanwhile, had swung and missed on only 4.3% of his 468 swings through Sunday--the lowest rate since Wade Boggs in '92, according to STATS, Inc. Who deserves the start? Flip a coin. The two shortstops' stats are as close as the voting:
•Former Dodgers and 2000 Olympic team manager Tommy Lasorda is a leading candidate to be Team USA's manager in the inaugural World Baseball Classic, which Major League Baseball still hopes to stage next March.
•Through Sunday the spunky White Sox had played .714 ball in one-run games (20--8). Only 13 teams have won 70% of their one-run games over a full season, including the 1959 White Sox.
•The Twins' Jesse Crain, 23, is the best reliever you never heard of. He was undefeated (6--0 this year; 9--0 in 55 career games) and close to unhittable (.171 opponents' batting average and two extra-base hits in 105 at bats against him).