This is an article from the Aug. 8, 2011 issue
The Pirates make a fun story, but the NL Central is the Brew Crew's to lose. Milwaukee was 60--49 with six straight wins through Sunday and sat two games up with the division's most explosive lineup (118 HRs). Now, sewing up playoff home field advantage is key. The Crew's just 21--35 away from Miller Park.
Once feared lost for the year, Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia bashed eight HRs and slugged .723 with 46 July hits, the most by any Bostonian in that month since Bobby Doerr's 52 in 1939. Just as impressive: After 45 K's in the first three months he whiffed only six times in July.
Baseball's best-hitting tandem of late? That would be the A's Hideki Matsui (24 for 47, .511 since July 19) and shortstop Cliff Pennington (20 hits in 45 at bats). And they're doing it the Billy Beane Way: The pair's combined 2011 salary is a runway-model-thin $4.67 million.
The Friends with Benefits scene stealer benefited from warmups on Tony Hawk's skate ramp before the X Games. He nailed his last three tricks (a 720 and two 540s) on a winning run and edged three-time defending champ Pierre-Luc Gagnon for his first Vert gold since '07.
Wantaway Carson Palmer says he'll retire before playing in Cincy; Ochocinco's gone; and season-ticket holders are jumping ship. (One fan told Cincinnati.com, "Paying for [tickets] is like paying someone to punch me in the stomach every Sunday.") Even sponsor Gold Star Chili was considering cutting its meaty ties.
The WNBA's Tulsa team is on pace to become the league's worst ever, having won just once—back on June 18—in 18 games. Said coach Teresa Edwards of the campaign, which includes four losses by at least 30 points, "I try not to count that record out loud."
High-priced vets Vernon Wells ($23 M; left) and Bobby Abreu ($9 M) are killing the Angels. They're a combined 15 for 89 over the past two weeks, the worst clip by a pair of AL teammates and a stat made more painful by the $63 million owed Wells over the next three years.
Lots of talk and not much action (the Blazers' Nicolas Batum was the latest to commit, to France's SLUC Nancy), but if bargaining sessions, which began Monday, go poorly, don't be surprised to see rumors like Kobe-A'mare-and-Melo-to-China come true, at least temporarily.
SI PLAYERS MLB POLL
WERE BASEBALL TO EXPAND, WHICH CITY SHOULD GET A TEAM FIRST?
Las Vegas 33%
New Orleans 7%
Big winner Vegas is one of two cities in the top 10 without a major pro sports team. The other is San Juan, P.R. (which was tabbed by just 3% of all the ballplayers polled but by 26% of those born in Latin America)... . Of the 35 cities named by at least one pro, only Montreal (2%) has ever been home to an MLB franchise since 1900.
Based on 295 MLB players who responded to SI's survey
Facebook Fan Picks
25% SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
20% MONTREAL, QUEBEC