This is an article from the May 19, 2008 issue
Pow! went a grand slam last Saturday. Wham-bam! went two more homers on Sunday. That made seven dongs in nine games for second baseman Dan Uggla of the first-place Marlins—a surge that followed a move from second to the middle of the lineup. Said Uggla, explaining his happy homering, "I don't attribute it to anything."
She slew not one but three top 10 players—including No. 1 Justine Henin—to win the German Open. Her $196,600 payday came with a sweet lagniappe: She won it on Mother's Day with mama Safina (first name: Raouza) watching from the stands.
The Cubs we know about (first place!), the White Sox are warming up (one game out through Sunday), and how 'bout those f√∫tbolers! Chicago's Fire, with sharpshooter Cuauhtémoc Blanco (right, he'll sometimes blow kisses at opposing fans after scoring), was roaring along at 5-1-1.
Weren't they supposed to struggle? A sweep of L.A.—they rallied for eight runs after being no-hit into the seventh—gave Houston its eighth win in nine games. Thank Lance Berkman, for one: The first baseman had a stretch of, get this, 19 hits in 25 at bats.
Big picture: Indians DH Travis Hafner was hitting .257 since the start of last season. Middle-range: He was at .215 this year. Small sample: Try .161 over 10 games through Sunday. It's gotten so bad that Cleveland briefly benched their $8 million man last week. Said manager Eric Wedge, "We've got to help him, and he's got to help himself."
Five players withdrew mid-tournament from the Eternal City event, including crowd pleasers Andy Roddick (right, back pain) and Federer-beating Radek Stepanek (the heat) in the semis. The exodus led to cries that the ATP's schedule is too grueling.
The Sharks are still smarting from the four-OT game that ended their season (so long, Stanley Cup favorites), and the city's MLS entry has nothing to fill the void. The Earthquakes and goalie Joe Cannon blew a late 2--0 lead—the first come-from-behind win all season in the MLS—to stay stuck in the cellar.
Weren't they supposed to be good? Ten losses in 12 games dropped Seattle to the bottom of the AL West—and it may be taking a toll. First baseman Richie Sexson (hitting .202) got a five-game ban for charging Texas pitcher Kason Gabbard and winging his helmet at him.
SI PLAYERS MLB POLL
Which team has the best starting pitching in baseball?
Boston Red Sox 25%
Arizona Diamondbacks 19%
Detroit Tigers 17%
Seattle Mariners 8%
New York Mets 7%
Players couldn't vote for their own team.... Through Sunday, Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka (above, left) was 6--0 with a 2.45 ERA; Brandon Webb (above, right) led Arizona at 8--0, 2.41.... The Tigers (first) and the Red Sox (third) were in last week's poll on which team had baseball's best lineup.... The A's, who led baseball with a 3.29 ERA, were not among the 16 teams to get a vote.
[Based on a survey of 495 MLB players] • For more on the poll, and to comment on it, go to SI.com/players.