Team USA is dealt in, the Yankees begin hoarding chips, and the White Sox hold.
The idea of sending a baseball Dream Team to the Olympics has been dead a while now. Major League Baseball would never consider shutting down its season for two weeks to send an All-Star team to an Olympiad, and furthermore, baseball will be discontinued as an Olympic sport after next month's games in Beijing. The opening ceremonies are August 8, and the baseball competition will be held from August 13-23. Thus, baseball will be taking a back seat to a lot of other sports in the Olympics. You have to search to find the games on television, and strain even further to find much coverage online or in print.
The Twins and Cardinals surprise the experts, the latest example that Manny being Manny may not be all fun and games, plus news and rumors from around the game.
Money was not an issue for Joe Nathan. The contract offer that the Twins made to their closer during spring training was certainly fair in his mind, but Nathan also knew he could get a similar deal, and possibly a more lucrative one, by playing out the season and becoming a free agent. The organization that acquired him from the Giants and turned him into one of the game's best closers-his 4.398 WXRL leads the American League-had traded left-hander Johan Santana to the Mets during the offseason and then lost Gold Glove center fielder Torii Hunter to the Angels as a free agent. As a result, while Nathan's heart was with the Twins, he wanted to make sure they would still be competitive.
The Indians and A's practice addition by subtraction while Tony La Russa scans the horizon for reinforcements, plus news and notes from around the majors.
The Brewers and Cubs upgraded this past week by trading for CC Sabathia and Rich Harden. Both were strong contenders in the National League before the deals, and adding two ace-type starting pitchers only aids their chances. But what does it say about the teams that traded Sabathia and Harden?
Picking all 64 All-Stars, plus news and notes from around the major leagues.
The All-Star Game is still nine days away, but this year's event is already on the verge of becoming the most-hyped Midsummer Classic ever. The game will be played at Yankee Stadium in the Yankees' last season in the venerable Bronx ballpark. Major League Baseball and the Yankees plan to boost the event's memorability factor by bringing in more than three dozen Hall of Famers for a dizzying array of events and ceremonies.
Plus some Astro-physicality, a quashed Rays referendum, and news and notes from around the game.
You would think that the Yankees' starting pitching should be in shambles by now. Just consider that Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, the two rookies they were counting on heavily this season, are on the Disabled List and have zero wins between them. To make matters worse the ace of the staff, Chien-Ming Wang, is out until September after suffering a torn tendon in his foot two weeks ago.
Willie Randolph wasn't the only manager fired this week, but the manner of his dismissal caused an uproar.
Nearly a week has passed since the Mets fired manager Willie Randolph, and egg is still being wiped off the organization's collective face. The Mets have been castigated inside and outside the industry for the way they handled the move, having Randolph take a cross-country flight from New York to Los Angeles after last Sunday's doubleheader with the Rangers at Shea Stadium, then dropping the ax on him after a win over the Angels.
John Smoltz isn't quite ready to hang 'em up, Hank and his GM have an important discussion, and news and notes from around the league.
John Smoltz has long been fond of saying that he is only one shot away from the glue factory. Surgery to repair a torn throwing shoulder labrum--which Smoltz underwent this past Tuesday--has caused more than one pitcher to wind up getting sent to the knacker. However, the Braves right-hander isn't ready to let that operation end his career, even at age 41.
Changes of scenery lead to changes in perception, plus news and notes from around the leagues.
It is funny how perception can color the portrait of a baseball player. Miguel Tejada was considered a malcontent last season with the Orioles, as the shortstop was portrayed as moody, a guy who had lost his zest for the game, and one appeared to be on the downside of his career. Astros general manager Ed Wade drew heavy criticism when he traded five players for Tejada last December. Wade came under more fire when Tejada was fingered as a steroid user just one day later, when the Mitchell Report was released. Throw in the fact that ESPN broke the story in April that Tejada is actually two years older than his listed age of 31, and Wade was considered the village idiot of the game's front offices.
Questions abound about the use of maple instead of ash, plus news and notes from around the game.
Don Long has a lot of reasons to smile this year. The Pirates' first-year hitting coach has finally made it to the major leagues after spending 21 years in the minor leagues as a manger, coach, and instructor. Furthermore, the Pirates' three starting outfielders, left fielder Jason Bay, center fielder Nate McLouth and right fielder Xavier Nady, are having All-Star caliber seasons under Long's tutelage. However, it is physically impossible for Long to smile right now thanks to something that is becoming more of a problem with each passing day in the major leagues-the breaking of maple bats at an alarming rate.
Four blown home run calls in the past week spur increased talk about instant replay, thin ice in Flushing, and an all-time great hangs 'em up.
It was not a good week to be one of the men in blue. Umpiring in the major leagues is a thankless job, with the only recognition coming when there is a blown call. The umpires have been getting recognized quite a bit lately, as there were four instances this past week in which the wrong call was made on a potential home run.
Explaining a southpaw's turnaround, failure breeds front-office dissatisfaction, plus news, feats, and rumors from around the game.
Cliff Lee says he has not discovered any kind of magic formula or developed a new pitch or altered his workout routine this season. "I'm pretty much the same pitcher I've always been," the Cleveland Indians left-hander insisted. "I'm just on a pretty good roll."