By Dan Shanoff
Page 2

If you find yourself at a summer barbecue -- or just engaged in debate at the bar -- and you want to wax wisely about the state of Major League Baseball at the All-Star break, the conventional wisdom is very simple: "How 'bout them Devil Rays?!" You can't go wrong with that.

But if you're looking for a few catch-phrases to throw in the mix, use the list below of what's hot and what's not in baseball at the break to fuel your conversation:

WHAT'S HOT, WHAT'S NOT: 2004 BASEBALL MIDSEASON
Category Hot Not Hot
Bandwagon team (NL) Cardinals Astros
Bandwagon team (AL) Devil Rays Red Sox
Home-field advantage U.S. Cellular (W. Sox 28-17) Safeco (Mariners 19-22)
In-stadium promotion anniversary Bobble-arms Bobble-heads
Fantasy pitcher
Chris Carpenter (StL)

Sidney Ponson (BAL)
Hammerin' HR hitter Hank Blalock (TEX) Jason Giambi (NYY)
Everyone wants... More pitching Juan Pierre
First-name superstar
Vlad

Hideki
Asian sensation Shingo Takatsu (CWS) Kaz Matsui (NYM)
Trade bait Randy Johnson Yankees prospects
GM John Hart (TEX) Theo Epstein (BOS)
Place to catch homers Great American Ballpark (CIN) Petco Park (SDP)
Controversy Beltran's All-Star status Steroids
Injury Sore shoulders Bad backs
A's ace
Mark Mulder

Barry Zito
Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano Prior or Wood
Never sick of Trade rumors Alou-peeing-on-hands rumor
Rivalry A's-Red Sox (Wild Card) Yankees-Red Sox (AL East)
Major milestone Bonds intentional walks Bonds 700 HRs
Jersey to be seen in
Alfonso Soriano

Alex Rodriguez
Free-agent pickup (AL) Vlad Guerrero (ANA) Bartolo Colon (ANA)
Free-agent pickup (NL) Roger Clemens (HOU) Andy Pettitte (HOU)
Fan distraction Political conventions NBA off-season deals
"Tony" manager
LaRussa (StL)

Pena (KC)
Talked-about stat Team run differential Player OPS

What a good time to re-evaluate those preseason predictions:

PAGE 2 MLB PICKS
Category We like We used to like
NL East Mets Marlins
NL Central Cards Cubs
NL West Padres Dodgers
AL East Yankees Red Sox
AL Central White Sox Royals
AL West Rangers Angels
NL Wild Card Cubs Astros
AL Wild Card A's Red Sox
NL MVP Scott Rolen Richie Sexson
AL MVP Vlad Guerrero Manny Ramirez
NL Cy Jason Schmidt Kerry Wood
AL Cy Randy Johnson Pedro Martinez
NL Rookie Jason Bay (PIT) Khalil Greene (SDP)
AL Rookie Bobby Crosby (OAK) Joe Mauer (MIN)
World Series champ A's over Cubs Red Sox over anyone

Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. His "Daily Quickie" commentary appears every weekday morning.




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THE HOT LIST