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Apolitical blues

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July 15

In my life
In what can be described as a defining conversation, here's an account of what the Mets' Mike Piazza had to say after getting beaned by Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens. "I'm lying there at home in pain, and I hear these people on the radio saying, 'in the good old days, Sal the Barber (Maglie) shaved everyone who dug in on him' "

"In the days," said Robin Ventura, "when you could drink and drive."

"And," added Piazza, "no one ever talked about serious issues like spousal abuse."

Thin air
These were the major league leaders from last year's All-Star break to this year's All-Star break:

Batting average: Nomar Garciaparra, Boston, .368
Home runs: Mark McGwire, St. Louis, 67
RBI: Jason Giambi, Oakland, 150
OPS: McGwire, 1.235
Wins: David Wells, Toronto, 23
ERA: Pedro Martinez, Boston, 1.69
Saves: Antonio Alfonseca, Florida, 48
(Couresy Elias Sports Bureau)

Thing called love
We have been led to cynically believe that many politicians are disingenuous and generally phony, but few will ever beat Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. This man, who changed his middle initial to be JFK and at an anti-Vietnam rally threw someone else's medals into the water, made a self-promotion appearance with Boston talk-show maven Eddie Andelman and claimed he was a big Red Sox fan from his days growing up in Groton, Mass. And at the promotion he said Eddie Yost was his favorite player.

The problem with that is just the simple fact that Eddie Yost never played for the Red Sox.

Riding with the king
Much is made of the remarkable AL shortstops in the game today. Here is the leader board in three major offensive categories through Thursday:

OPS (slugging + on-base percentage)			
N. Garciaparra 1.086		
A. Rodriguez   1.079	
M. Bordick	.852	
D. Jeter        .849		
J. Valentin	.803		
M. Tejada       .757	

Home runs Rodriguez 24 Tejada 15 Bordick 14 Valentin 13 R. Clayton 13 Garciaparra 12

RBI Rodriguez 78 Tejada 63 Garciaparra 55 Bordick 54 Valentin 48 Clayton 38

Eight miles high
Groupings of pitchers who qualified for the ERA title at the All-Star break:

1.00-1.99: 2
2.00-2.99: 2
3.00-3.99: 23
4.00-4.99: 35
5.00-5.99: 29
6.00-6.99: 9
7.00-7.99: 2

These numbers are of starters who have all been kept in their respective rotations.

River deep, mountain high
One of the most interesting baseball websites is The Baseball Prospectus, which although is somewhat confusing has all the players' offensive production ranked by position. Here are the best and worst at each position going into the weekend:

Position	Best			Worst
Catcher		M. Piazza, N.Y.(NL)	B. Ausmus, Det.
 		J. Posada, N.Y.(AL)	M. Matheny, St.L
 		I. Rodriguez, Tex.	M. Johnson, Chi.(AL)
First Base	C. Delgado, Tor.	K. Young, Pitt.
 		J. Giambi, Oak.		R. Coomer, Minn.
 		M. McGwire, St.L	T. Martinez, N.Y.(AL)
Second Base	J. Kent, S.F.		H. Bush, Tor.
 		J. Vidro, Mon.		M. Lansing, Col.
 		E. Alfonzo, N.Y.(NL)	J. Offerman, Bos.
Third Base	C, Jones, Atl.		V. Castilla, T.B.
 		T. Glaus, Ana.		W. Veras, Bos.
 		T. Fryman, Cle.		M. Barrett, Mon.
Shortstop	A. Rodriguez, Sea.	A. Gonzalez, Tor.
 		N. Garciaparra, Bos.	R. Sanchez, K.C.
 		B. Larkin, Cin.		N. Perez, Col.
Left Field	B. Bonds, S.F.		R. Sanders, Atl.
 		G. Sheffield, L.A.	T. O'Leary, Bos.
 		D. Erstad, Ana.		D. Bragg, Col.
Center Field	J. Edmonds, St.L	P. Bergeron, Mon.
 		B. Giles, Pitt.		M. Grissom, Mil.
 		B. Williams, N.Y.(AL)	D. Glanville, Phi.
Right Field	V. Guerrero, Mon.	D. Martinez, Tex.
 		E. Burks, S.F.		T. Lee, Ari.
 		B. Abreu, Phi.		M. Stairs, Oak.
DH		E. Martinez, Sea.	B. Huskey, Minn.
 		F. Thomas, Chi.(AL)	L. Polonia, Det.
 		D. Segui, Tex.		S. Spiezio, Ana.

Many fans visit Fenway Park from out of town and constantly complain about what is considered the worst out-of-town score service in the majors, but on Thursday night with the score tied 2-2 going into the top of the eighth, the PA system blared out, "start me up." The Mets went on to score.

Howard Johnson's got his HOJO workin'
Mets reliever Turk Wendell's favorite restaurant is Friendly's, a burger/ice cream chain in the northeast. So over the break, which Wendell spent with his family in Hyannis on Cape Cod, he went to Friendly's and ordered his favorite -- a "Jim Dandy," a five scoop ice cream sundae.

He finished it and ordered another.

"That," said the waitress, "has never happened before."

Turk has done a lot of things that were firsts, and insists that he will play the last year of his career for nothing. "I will play it for nothing because I've loved baseball all my life," says Turk. "I want my last season to be a testament to the game. I only wanted a few things out of life -- a wife, children, to play baseball and to hunt deer."

Told that the players' union will not allow him to play for free, Wendell said, "then I'll drop out of the union when the time comes."

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