How 'bout those Braves?
Atlanta just swept a four-gamme series with the visiting Mets, who are without Mike Piazza for the rest of the season, and who just let star relief pitcher Armando Benitez go to the Yankees. Even though Greg Maddux is having a mediocre year and Tom Glavine is now playing with their rivals from Queens, the Braves are nonetheless the best team in baseball this year. Russ Ortiz has been a surprisingly solid addition to the pitching staff, but the batting is the key factor. Javy Lopez's bat has cooled off lately, but Gary Sheffield has taken up the slack, hitting two home runs and three singles the other day against the Mets, and now leads his teammates in the home run race.
UPDATE ON THE TRAGEDY IN ARLINGTON: The Washington Post added some details to the sportsillustrated.cnn.com story cited earlier, with a quote from the letter written by Arlington County Board of Supervisors Chairman:
"The arrogance of Major League Baseball is unbelievable," Ferguson wrote.
He added at a morning news conference yesterday: "The opportunity [in Arlington] has come and gone with Major League Baseball."
I wish I could believe this was all just tit-for-tat hardball negotiating, but I doubt it. The only alternative stadium site in Virginia right now is near Dulles Airport, which is about 22 miles from downtown Washington, as the proverbial crow flies. That is not much closer than Camden Yards (34 miles)! It would appear the only hope now is for a ballpark in Washington, but all the prospective stadium sites in D.C. are much more convenient for Maryland fans than for Virginia fans, which would be hugely counterproductive. It's the bottom of the ninth with two outs...