Back at third base—he'd been in the outfield for two years—the Indians' much-beloved Blakey is tearing the cover off the ball. He'd hit in 26 straight through Sunday, though he was trying to keep it quiet. "Guys come up and say, 'Keep it going,'" said Blake. "I say, 'What are you talking about?'"
A 67-13 nail-biter over New York's Dragons gave Dallas's Arena Football team the AFL record for wins in a season. They're 14-1 because, said receiver Willis Marshall (right), "we can blow teams out early and not let them back in."
Normally so-so lefty Wandy Rodriguez (23-26 career record) may, at 28, be ascending for the Astros: He's won two of three including 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball to shut down then surging Seattle. Afterward Wandy said, "That's the best I've pitched."
June 24, 2007
He's back. Bathroom-trashing coach landed with his eighth NHL team (last stop: Florida in 2003) when Calgary gave him a three-year deal. He's won 569 games and a Stanley Cup and has been to three other finals. Now he wants to "go to that same spot and finish it off."
The third baseman's slide from stardom (36 homers, 101 RBIs in 2005) goes on: He's at .217 for the mediocre Astros, and his late-May optimism—"I'm coming out each day more and more fired up," he told reporters—hasn't lifted him in June. He was hitting .161 for the month.
A 60-42 loss to L.A. dropped Las Vegas's AFL team to a league-worst 2-13. They've got a lame-duck coaching staff (fired, effective season's end) and tiny crowds. G.M. Sam Jankovich to the Las Vegas Sun: "Do I think there's room for considerable improvement in all areas? Definitely. Yes."
Distinguished lefty Randy Johnson (284-149) may, at 44, be descending with the Diamondbacks. He's on the DL with a pulled glute, after having back and forearm trouble. Manager Bob Melvin on the DL decision: "We're going to err on the side of caution."
He's gone. The Orioles manager was let go on Monday after leading Baltimore to a 122-164 record. That includes 29-40 this year and what G.M. Mike Flanagan called "maybe some of the most horrific losses that this club has ever endured."
SI PLAYERS MLB POLL
Who is the hardest-throwing pitcher in baseball?
¬´ Joel Zumaya, Tigers reliever 80%
Billy Wagner, Mets closer 6% ¬ª
Justin Verlander, Tigers starter 3%
Bobby Jenks, White Sox closer 2%
Rich Harden, A's starter 1%
Players were not allowed to vote for a teammate.... The 6' 3", 210-pound Zumaya, 23, has been out since early May with a ruptured tendon in his right middle finger; he's due back in August.... Zumaya, nicknamed Zoom Zoom, was taken 320th overall in the 2002 draft. His fastball has registered as high as 104 on ballpark radars.... Wagner was the only lefthander among the top 10 vote getters.
[Based on a survey of 464 MLB players]
For an expanded version of the poll, go to SI.com/players.