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Apolitical blues

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June 17

Every little thing (is magic)
On May 23, the White Sox hosted the Indians and began a 38-game run that they believed would define them as a team. The stretch included a May 27-June 18 stretch in which they played three games at home, and from June 12-25 included 14 straight games against the Indians and Yankees.

When the season started, James Baldwin and Cal Eldred were the fourth and fifth starters. After Baldwin beat the Yankees Friday night, the Chisox were 21-5 in starts made by Baldwin and Eldred. And factor that they are only bound to get better, especially with youngster Jon Garland on the horizon. Garland tossed a four-hit shutout for Triple-A Charlotte against Scranton on June 13 for his seventh straight victory.

The one negative for the White Sox going into the weekend is that they had committed 62 errors, twice as many as the Indians.

One good reason
Pride of the Yankees. Before Wednesday afternoon's game, Yankees GM Brian Cashman went around to Boston manager Jimy Williams and several Red Sox players to thank them on behalf of George Steinbrenner and their organization for agreeing to come back in September for a one-day makeup of Monday's rainout. "We appreciate it," said Cashman. "And they should know it."

King(s) of the hill
One man's All-Star ballot:

Carlos Delgado   1B    Mark McGwire
Robby Alomar     2B    Edgardo Alfonzo
Troy Glaus       3B    Chipper Jones
Alex Rodriguez   SS    Barry Larkin
Jermaine Dye     OF    Barry Bonds
Carl Everett     OF    Vladimir Guerrero
Darin Erstad     OF    Brian Giles
Pudge Rodriguez   C    Mike Piazza

You used to laugh about ... everybody that was hangin' out
From STATS, Inc. Leaders and Trailers: The worst AL offensive players in terms of OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging):

1. Ray Sanchez, Kansas City, .563
2. Vinny Castilla, Tampa Bay, .591
3. David Bell, Seattle, .598
4. Troy O'Leary, Boston, .623

I don't know why (Part I)
"What would you get for me? A 36-year-old guy with a broken bone in his hand and a bad back?"
-- Cubs RHP Kevin Tapani on rumors of his being traded to the Mets.

I don't know why (Part II)
Minnesota right-hander Sean Bergman has a 9.22 ERA and Texas lefty Darren Oliver has a 6.66 ERA and both are still in their respective rotations.

You know that you're over the hill when your mind makes a promise that your body can't fulfill
"We traded for Chuck Smith so that Joe Strong would have someone to hang around with. Joe didn't relate to the young players and was lonely."
-- Marlins manager John Boles on the trade for Smith, 30, who joins the 37-year-old rookie Strong. Both made their major league debuts this season.

The sky is crying
Jaime Navarro is the 10th starter used by the Indians this season, and the 22nd pitcher. Navarro is also the 39th player used by the Indians, tying them with San Diego, with one fewer than Tampa Bay and the Cubs, who had used 40 as of Saturday night. The Twins (27), Giants (28), Yankees (30) and White Sox (30) had used the fewest.

The house of the rising sun
In 1997, the Red Sox paid more than $3 million to get pitcher Robinson Checo from Japan, and he won one game. This winter, they paid 30-year-old left-hander Sang-Hoon Lee $3 million to come to the U.S., and he didn't make the club. Then on Friday, the Red Sox suspended Japanese pitcher Tomo Ohka and Korean hurler Sun-Woo Kim for a fight that they engaged in during a rain delay during Pawtucket's game at Norfolk. The fight proceeded later on at the team's hotel.

When will our buckets come up dry?
Going into the weekend, Braves starters were fifth in ERA at 4.32, behind Boston (3.72), Arizona (4.10), L.A. (4.16) and Seattle (4.31). There was only one team with their starters' ERA's in the threes (Boston), 13 in the fours, 14 in the fives and two in the sixes.

There's a rugged road
Rick Ankiel is being pushed back a day so he can pitch in St. Louis in each of his last four starts before the All-Star break. Ankiel is 4-0 with a 2.42 ERA at home. On the road, he is 1-3 with a 5.84 ERA.

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