This is an article from the June 30, 2008 issue
Nice weekend, bros! After getting called up from Triple A, Cubs rookie Eric Patterson (above) went 5 for 8 with a stolen base and his first big league homer in a sweep of the White Sox. "That's the whole idea," he said. "When you get up here, you want to contribute." Big brother Corey contributed too, with a two-run blast that helped the Reds win a series at Yankee Stadium.
His magic foot took Russia to the Euro semis. First he stunned Sweden with a goal and an assist, then this in the quarters versus Holland: a cross to set up one goal, a boot through the keeper's legs for another. No wonder the top clubs (Chelsea, etc.) are jostling to sign him.
Off the diamond since 2001 and out of a manager's job since 1997, the 64-year-old Gaston is back in the Blue Jays' dugout and diggin' it. Said he to the hometown Star, "It's Toronto, the city I love."
Los Angeles Sparks
They're flying in L.A. The team's 9--3, has won five of six, and you knew this was coming: Rookie Candace Parker (right) slammed down her first WNBA dunk. Now she and teammate Lisa Leslie are the only players to dunk in a WNBA game. "Just trying not to miss," Parker told the L.A. Times.
Painful weekend, bros. Cardinals shortstop César Izturis (above) was in a rut (five for his last 39) even before he went on the DL with a strained right hammy. The injury may run in the family: César's half brother Maicer, the Angels shortstop, was riding the bench while nursing the same woe—and that could cost him in his battle for the starting job.
This guy struggling? The seemingly slump-proof D-Backs ace had lost five of seven decisions, and he had an 8.22 ERA in his last three starts. Now it's not just his signature pitch but his team that's sinking: "It's got to turn around," said the 2006 Cy Young winner. "And I would think it's got to be soon."
Tough nut for a manager. After losing two of its first three under Gaston, punchless Toronto was in last place, 10 1/2 games back. Obstacles in the AL East? Try the Red Sox, the upstart Rays and the sizzling Yankees.
A nightmare of a debut season for the 0-13 WNBAers. They lose big, they rebound little, and coach Marynell Meadors is passing the blame. "They have to have that aggression within," she told Atlanta's Journal-Constitution. "There's nothing I can do to teach them to be aggressive."
SI PLAYERS MLB POLL
Who is the most underrated player in baseball?
Placido Polanco, Tigers 2B 12%
Michael Young, Rangers SS 7%
Raul Iba√±ez, Mariners OF 6%
Chase Utley, Phillies 2B 5%
Hanley Ramirez, Marlins SS 4%
Players could not vote for a teammate.... Over the past three-plus seasons, through Sunday, Polanco, who went all of last season without making an error, has batted .319, seventh highest in baseball.... Reds starter Aaron Harang (sixth, 3.5%) was the only pitcher to receive more than 1% of the vote.... Young averaged 97 RBIs from 2004 through '07, most among current AL shortstops.
[Based on a survey of 495 MLB players] • For more on the poll, and to comment on it, go to SI.com/players.