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VAN DYCK: More halfway-point musings

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foxsports admin

 
   
 
Here we are at the midway point of the season and you wonder how the second half could get any stranger. Think not? Then take a look:
  • The are in first place in the N. L. East after 81 games (51-30) despite getting just six victories from , three from and zero from . The three have a combined salary this season of about $35 million.
  • Boston was on a pace at the halfway point to win 94 games despite five victories from and a bullpen that ranked next-to-last in the AL.
  • Tampa Bay had more victories against AL East opponents (17) than Boston (15) and just one fewer than the , despite being 20 games behind both of them.
  • Reasons for Oakland's second-place standing in the West? An 18-23 road record (compared to 49-32 all last season), losing 13 one-run games (compared to 14 last season) and a 9-9 interleague record (compared to 11-2 last season).
  • Those Kansas City were in first place (and on pace to win 86 games) with the help of three victories from . This was a guy who was pitching in the independent Atlantic League just a month ago.
  • The finished the first half with 42 victories, 20 shy of their entire total for last season.
  • Those Detroit are in last place and on pace to win ... 40 games. That would tie them with Casey's Amazin' 1962 , maybe. You see, the finished 40-120, thanks to a pair of rainouts.
  • The were 1 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central after 81 games but had just an 18-30 record against teams with winning records.
  • Rookie ($300,000) has more victories for Florida than free agents ($11,000,000) with the or Maddux ($14,750,000).
  • Not one player was on pace to hit 60 homers (maybe the result of steroid testing in spring training?).
  • And only one player was on pace to steal more than 50 bases. That was Florida's , who had more (38) than six tams in the National League, including his former team in Colorado.
  • Meanwhile, six pitchers were on pace to lose 20 games, including three .
  • What do , , and have in common? They were all in the top 10 in AL hitting.

    Here to stay

    Any of us who foolishly thought interleague play might be swirled down the drain should have known better. You see, for all the reasons the National League shouldn't play the American League, there is one reason it will continue: Ownership's tub is overflowing with money, meaning Bud Selig isn't about to wash away one of his huge financial successes. Attendance was up 20.1 percent during interleague play this season, and even more importantly, such small-market, low-attendance teams as Kansas City and Oakland could hardly count all the extra cash. The drew their largest non-Opening Day crowd in more than a decade and the A's had their second-largest crowd in Oakland history. The bottom line. Interleague play is going nowhere, because next season's schedule already has it included. And Selig loves it. Interleague play, he said, "has proven to be a great success, in fact, much greater than most interleague proponents had figured." One final note: talk about being equally matched, the A's and are 19-19 against each other, and each team is 11-8 at home.

    Home-baked

    Seems interleague intra-city incompetence has left Dusty Baker a little indignant. After his lost for the fourth time in five games to the , Baker was upset that his managerial counterpart, Jerry Manuel, celebrated so emotionally, waving his arms to the U.S. Cellular Field crowd. "That's my homey," said Baker, who like Manuel hails from Sacramento. "If we beat him, I wouldn't do that." Manuel was shocked that a homey would try to be so holy. "it was nothing aimed at Dusty. "I told him, 'It had nothing to do with you, man. I was just geeked. Anything wrong with that? "I was surprised he brought it up. I'm not that important." Geez, Dusty, lighten up a little and save some of that criticism for your home that is in a tailspin.

    Short hops

  • When the ' winning streak hit 11, the hero was . And if you asked, "who," it's perfectly all right. Hammock started at third base that game, giving the D'backs three rookie starters in the infield along with and , and it could have been four if not been given the day off. Oh, the game was also saved by rookie .
  • In all, Arizona used nine rookies during their 12-game streak that gained them six games on first place and the wild card. That includes starter , whose ERA was 2.10 after he contributed the streak's 10th victory, and he has long-time scouts gushing over the natural movement of his pitches. And and are on their way back.
  • This must be more than just coincidence: has hit .357 while playing first base and .246 while the DH. Maybe it just takes his mind off hitting, but Thomas has ignited a offense since taking over full-time at first more than a month ago. Example: In 84 at-bats at first base, he had eight homers and drive in 21 runs; in 171 at-bats at DH (more than double), he had nine homers and 18 RBI. Slugging percentage at first, .738, compared to .488 as DH.
  • Scouts are wondering what's wrong with , who already has allowed as many home runs (14) as he did last year, has allowed seven runs or more in four starts, and has a 4.84 ERA (highest since his rookie season of 1987). "Everything is down the middle of the plate without much movement when I saw him," one scout said. After Maddux' loss to Florida Monday, the were 15-17 against teams in their own division.
  • Sixty-three percent of grade schoolers said "deserves a place in the record books" despite being caught using a corked bat. That is the result of a Scholastic News Online poll of 46,000 children. The other 37 percent disagreed.
  • The picked up and and will pay only $300,000 (combined) in salary. The picked up reliever and will pay only $150,000 of his $3.7 million. Meanwhile, the promoted pitcher Grant Balfour from Triple-A. New Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin has spent $6.7 million ridding himself of Leskanic and outfielder (who was picked up by the ). Veteran baseball correspondent Dave van Dyck is a regular contributor to FOXSports.com.
  • Tagged: Orioles, Red Sox, White Sox, Tigers, Royals, Brewers, Twins, Athletics, Rangers, Braves, Cubs, Astros, Mets, Giants, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Melvin Mora, Juan Pierre, Lyle Overbay, Grant Balfour, Robby Hammock, Brandon Webb, Dontrelle Willis, Jose Valverde

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