MLB General

The Full Count: The Mighty Mariners

1. Seattle Surprise: Many think the Brewers are the most surprising team this season, but that title should actually go to the Mariners. Milwaukee plays in the league’s easiest division, while Seattle plays in the rigorous American League but has still posted the fifth-best record in the majors. The Mariners won their 50th game on Thursday as they topped the Tigers 3-2. Their scoring came on an Adrian Beltre single that ended up scoring three runs due to bizarre baserunning. Beltre tried to advance to second after two runs had scored, then somehow got away, avoiding Carlos Guillen’s tag as he made it to third. Richie Sexson scored while this was happening, though Beltre was actually called out at third. The strange play scored enough runs to win the game, as Felix Hernandez pitched decently and the bullpen was almost perfect. The Mariners, who have won four straight, are now just two games back of the Angels in the AL West.

2. Ready for a Run: The Yankees’ season has been a disaster overall, but they still have a chance to compete. With five combined series against Tampa, Kansas City, and Baltimore over the next few weeks, their schedule is at its easiest. They started off this must-win stretch by besting the Devil Rays 7-3. The Yanks hit three solo homers in the fourth inning, including Alex Rodriguez’s 31st on the year. James Shields of the Devil Rays continued his slide by allowing six runs. He has gone 1-5 the last month and his ERA has risen by 0.94. With the win, the Yankees improved to .500 on the year, still ten games back on the Red Sox. They need to be in contention by mid-August, when they will face three first-place teams in a brutal two-week stretch.

3. The Rich get Richer: There is contract talk right now involving two of the league’s best players. Ichiro has agreed to a new contract, worth $100 million over five years. The All Star Game MVP will stay in Seattle until he is 39 years old under the new deal. A-Rod, meanwhile, has said he will not negotiate a contract extension with the Yankees during the season. He does have 3 years left on his mega-deal, but he can opt to become a free agent after this season. No matter who he signs with, Rodriguez could become the league’s first $30 million per year player.

Player of the Day: Jermaine Dye, White Sox: 3-5, 2 runs, HR (13) in a 9-7 win over the Orioles.

MLB General

The Full Count: Halladay is dominating again

1. Return to Dominance: Roy Halladay hadn’t pitched since May 10, and he hadn’t pitched like himself since April 30. It didn’t take him long to return to his usual form. Halladay shut out the White Sox in seven innings, allowing six hits and no walks. He struck out seven on the last day of a horrible May for Halladay. In April, he was one of the early Cy Young favorites in the AL. But in May, he allowed 17 combined runs in his first two starts and then underwent an appendectomy that cost him three weeks. Mark Buehrle of the White Sox pitched eight strong innings himself, but he gave up two solo homers to Frank Thomas and Aaron Hill.

2. Still Rollin’: Everything about the Mets, from their starters to their lineup, is clicking right now. On Thursday, Orlando Hernandez delivered a great start in what has been a surprising season for him. El Duque allowed two runs in seven innings, lowering his ERA to 2.20. He is one of three Mets starters with an ERA below 2.80, which is quite unexpected for a staff that came into the year with numerous question marks. Billy Wagner converted his 31st straight save, his 13th on the year. Wagner is one of the more underrated closers in the majors with a 1.57 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. He has been unhittable for the last decade. Though Carlos Beltran struggled in May on offense, David Wright and Carlos Delgado broke out of their April slumps and Jose Reyes continued to be a steal machine (29 and counting). Right now, the Mets are clearly the favorite in the National League, which lacks another truly dominant team at this point.

3. Remember this guy?: Ever since breaking the single-season hits record in 2004, Ichiro has been virtually silent. This year he has returned to being a great contact hitter, with a .336 average and a 230-hit pace. He finished May with a 24-game hit streak that raised his average 76 points. He hasn’t slowed down, either, with 14 steals on the year. On Thursday, Ichiro carried the Mariners by going 3-5 with two RBIs. If he keeps hitting like he is now, Ichiro will definitely start to gain back the attention he lost after two below-average seasons for him.

Player of the Month: Prince Fielder, Brewers: Milwaukee may have slowed down towards the end of the month, but its best player continued to dominate. Fielder had four straight games with a homer to close the month. He led all major-leaguers with 13 homers in May and was tied for first with 28 RBIs. His slugging percentage was .755, which raised his season total to a league-leading .641. Fielder’s breakout is reminiscent of Ryan Howard‘s last year, when Howard hit 13 and 35 in May.

Pitcher of the Month: Jake Peavy, Padres: Many pitchers slowed down in May after dominating in April, but Peavy was not one of them. He went 4-0 with a miniscule 0.79 ERA and 39 strikeouts on the month. Peavy allowed no earned runs in three of his five starts, and the Padres won every time he took the mound in May. He is clearly the National League’s Cy Young favorite at this point in the year.

NHL General

Odds and Ends: The NHL gets its very own Heidi game

If you’re a struggling network who is probably the NHL’s sole hope of getting popular again, you can’t afford to screw up the way Versus did. The finish of the instant classic 4 OT game between the Canucks and the Stars wasn’t seen in some markets because some affiliates inexplicably switched to an infomercial.

Versus has received reports that last night’s Dallas/Vancouver game was switched to an infomercial in the fourth overtime,” the network said in a statement. “We are obviously very disappointed to hear that some fans in a few select markets have reported that they did not see the end of this great game.

The game did run in its entirety on the Versus network feed, but based on the information we have received we are currently working with our affiliates in the affected markets to find out what caused the problem.

Sadly, we don’t even get Versus so we couldn’t even see the infomercial.

In other news…

[Mainichi Daily News]: Japanese fans tune in for Matsuzaka-Suzuki showdown

[Scatter O’ Light]: Reebok might want to fire some copyeditors

[Our Book of Scrap]: Has Major League Baseball Watered Down Jackie’s Honor?


[Sports Review Magazine]: Larry David, New York Jets Consigliere?

[Steroid Nation]: The most famous player in NFL Europe

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Odds and Ends: In case you want to get Jeff Garcia something for his wedding

Some guy over at the Fanhouse did some top-notch investigative journalism and found Jeff Garcia and Carmella DeCesare’s wedding registry on Williams-Sonoma. For a guy who just signed a $7M contract, Garcia’s registry is somewhat normal. Outside of a $1,600 knife set (on sale for $1,200!), it’s like a registry you’d find for poor people. (Poor relative to NFL players poor, not we’re registered at K-Mart poor.)

Anyone want to chip in on some Blueberry Waffle & Pancake Mix? Only $9.50 plus shipping!

In other news…

[AP]: EU wants barriers to sports bets lifted. (meanwhile we can’t even legally have an office pool)

[Seal Clubbers]: Seattle closes the door on Jerramy Stevens

[Can’t Stop the Bleeding]: Hey at least he didn’t wait till he was 24 like Shaun Alexander

[Newsday]: Bob Uecker’s stalker is back!

[Awful Announcing]: Does this mean we have to hate UNC now?

[49ers News]: Look out Niners fans, Rosenhaus is trying to ruin your team

MLB General

The Full Count: Jason Grimsley gets 50 games

The amazing disgrace continues: Major League Baseball officially suspended former Diamondbacks pitcher Jason Grimsley 50 games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He is the first player to be suspended without testing positive on a drug test (can that certain someone else be next?). Not that it matters much, as Grimsley will probably never pitch again. Also, according to, the Diamondbacks have officially filed termination papers (like he works at Pizza Hut or something) with the commissioner’s office. They claim that Grimsley was mentally unfit to play and should not be paid the remainder of the $825,000 he is under contract for.

Just plain amazing: Ichiro is at it again – albeit quietly. While Twins catcher Joe Mauer has been getting most of the press, Suzuki is arguably the hottest player in the league. The Mariners’ star is hitting .366 and already has 102 hits, which is ahead of his record-breaking pace of 262 in 2004. He is hitting .532 in June with 36 total bases during the first 12 days of the month. Despite this, he is currently in 4th place in the AL all star voting.

Sweet fifteen: Do you think Steinbrenner would like a do-over? Yankee discard Jose Contreras won his 15th consecutive decision last night for the Chicago White Sox, pitching eight innings, striking out 11 Rangers and improving to 7-0 on the season. Contreras – making a strong case to be the first on the hill in Pittsburgh July 11th – is two victories shy from tying Johan Santana’s 17 straight wins in 2004-2005, according to the Elias sports Bureau. Just think, Steinbrenner practically gave Contreras to the White Sox, only getting Esteban Loaiza in return.

On schedule: Roger Clemens’s “rehab” from being a lazy slob is right on course. Kidding. The Rocket pitched six strong innings for the Class AA Corpus Christi Hooks on Sunday night, striking out 11 and looking sharper than his first outing. The struggling Astros are counting down the days until the $12.6 million aggregated superstar goes from pitching in the likes Whataburger Field to pitching in Minute Maid Park. From the How Far Will People Bend Over Backwards for Roger Clemens Department, the Astros received special permission from the Texas League for Clemens to use an official Major League baseball and Hooks‘ catcher J.R. House gladly gave up his number 22 for Clemens, according to the Houston Chronicle. Clemens is scheduled to return June 22 against the Minnesota Twins.

Ping!!!: Break out the aluminum bats and dial up the dramatic, walk-off grand slams; it’s time for the College World Series! The annual tournament, which has introduced baseball fans to the likes of Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Will Clark and Joey- uh, I mean Albert – Belle is in full swing. The usual powerhouses are there, with Clemson, Georgia Tech, Cal State-Fullerton and Rice and Miami set to play. Defending champ Texas was upset by Oregon State. Clemson is the top seed overall, and they needed one of those walk-off slams by Cubs’ first round pick Tyler Colvin to squeak by upset-minded Oral Roberts. The World Series kicks off in Omaha, Neb. on Friday.