Can anyone beat the Cubs?
You've got to wonder. They've won their last seven games in a row, including an incredible comeback against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday. Down 9-0, they rallied to win 10-9. See MLB.com. For the first time since 1908, when they last won the World Series, the Cubs currently have the best win-loss record in all of baseball. With slugging outfielders Alfonso Soriano, Jim Edmonds (!), and Kosuke Fukudome in the lineup, and Kerry Wood as the very effective new closing pitcher (a career shift like John Smoltz a few years ago), they could -- go -- all -- the -- way! [Sorry, I should have mentioned ace pitcher Carlos Zambrano.] It's also nice to see journeyman infielder Mark DeRosa having a great year; he's batting .298 right now. I'm sure I'm not the only guy whose long-suffering father could finally get to relish a moment of joy this October.
Florida dominates (?)
Perhaps just as astonishing, however, is the fact that both teams from Florida have been on top or near the top of their respective divisions for the past month or so. The NL East and AL East are both very tough divisions to compete in. I'll bet taking "Devil" out of their name exorcised some of the Rays' playing "demons." In Citizens Bank Park yesterday, the Phillies beat the Marlins thanks to a couple key errors by the Marlins, thereby pulling a half game ahead of their semi-tropical rivals.
Home run milestones
After a prolonged wait last month, Manny Ramirez finally hit his 500th career homer over the weekend, as well as his 501st. Congratulations, Manny! Meanwhile, Ken Griffey Jr. is still stuck at 599, having hit only one four-bagger in all of May. And how about Chipper Jones, another future Hall of Famer, who is closing in on the 400-home run threshold? He is currently batting an astounding .405! After batting a career low of .248 in 2004, Chipper has improved his batting average every year since then. Too bad the rest of his team can't keep up with him. Since Ted Williams finished the 1941 season at .406, the closest any Major Leaguer has come to that level has been Tony Gwynn, who batted .394 in 1994.
The mail bag
The granddaughter of the "Sultan of Swat," Linda Ruth Tosetti, is leading a petition drive to have all Major League Baseball teams retire the number 3 on their uniforms, in honor of The Babe. See Newsday and retirebabesnumber.com. Hat tip to Bruce Orser.
Also, Mitchel Lichtman heard that the home run line on the left field wall at Minute Maid Park was raised in the first couple years after the park was opened -- and still called "Enron." Does anyone out there know anything about that?
Finally, Brian Vangor sent me this spectacular picture he took of my lovely wife Jacqueline and me up in the nosebleed section at Nationals Park two Saturdays ago. Note all the empty seats in the over-priced middle deck above the bullpen. Off in the distance, though not discernible in this photo, one can see the flags on the roof of RFK Stadium, just above the lights along the roof in the right field corner. Many thanks, Brian!