"We lived in a black-and-white world; our lives were in color but our heroes were delivered to us in black and white (through newsreels)," historian John Thorne says.Yeah, it's that good. Babe Ruth (in black and white as a player, in color as a coach or retiree), Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and the promise of more to come. Sign me the hell up.
Adds NBC's Bob Costas, about what he experienced as a kid going to big-league games: "You walk up that tunnel and, boom, it's like that scene from 'The Wizard of Oz,' where it goes from black and white and everything's now in Technicolor."
[#3 Cubs] Touché: The Cubs waste no time in countering the Brewers' Sabathia deal by trading little of consequence for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin, a deal that basically amounts to a free lottery ticket and an insurance policy for a team that's already the best in the NL. The Cubs' rotation ranks second in the league in SNLVAR, and they're adding a pitcher who ranks fifth in the AL in that category despite a month on the DL. Health is the rub, of course; Harden's thrown more innings this year than in 2006 and 2007 combined, and his last two starts have been iffy, with quickly decreasing velocity.As for the seventh-ranked Yankees, their lack of scoring and ability to get on base, as well as the decline of Captain Jeter, provide some sobering notes:
[#5 Athletics]The A's raise a white flag and more than a few eyebrows as they dispatch Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin to the Cubs for a questionable package in which there's no clear best player. Noble as the "Free Matt Murton!" sentiments may be, doing so at the price of a virtually free Harden makes little sense without a forecast of impending elbow or shoulder doom, and that's without pondering the utility of Gaudin. With the A's still showing a much more solid run differential than the Angels, one can argue that they're still very much in the AL West race. Then again, given the quick yield on this past winter's reloading, that may be a sign that Billy Beane does know what the hell he's doing here.
[#10 Brewers]The Big Deal: With his team having gone an MLB-best 26-12 over the past six-plus weeks to move (briefly) into the Wild Card lead, GM Doug Melvin pulls the trigger on a deal that sends four prospects--including 2007 first-rounder Matt LaPorta--to Cleveland in exchange for CC Sabathia. Though the big man will almost certainly walk at the end of the year, this is nonetheless a bold statement by the post-Selig Brewers, and a shrewd use of resources; the positionally-challenged LaPorta was something of an over-draft last year, but his bat's near-readiness made him an ideal candidate for an interleague swap with this time horizon. The move could mean about three added wins, which may well be enough to break the team's 26-year postseason drought.
At 34 years old, Derek Jeter may be headed for his worst first-half performance (.286/.349/.389) since his rookie season, but the Yankee captain keys a crucial two-game sweep of the AL East-leading Rays, helping his team retain some momentum after scrambling for a split against the Red Sox. Nonetheless, the pinstriped offense is anything but Bronx Bombers these days; their scoring is down 28 percent relative to last year's team, about 1.3 runs per game. With three regulars--Jose Molina (!), Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera--putting up OBPs below .310, Jeter and Bobby Abreu both below .350, and rookie Brett Gardner filling in for Johnny Damon as the latter hits the DL for the first time in his career, it's not hard to see why.Finally, there's this one about the suddenly lifelike if still 1th-ranked Dodgers, their throwback shortstop, and the pair of perfect games their pitchers chased this week (both of which I was smart enough to TiVo:
Despite their sub-.500 record, the Dodgers briefly move into a tie for first place in the NLAnyway, I'm a chatty patty with this week's Hit List. After taking a week off for travel, it's good to be back in the swing of things if only for a few moments. I don't have a single weekend at home during the month of July, which is unsettling but also quite fun.
WorstWest behind near-perfect efforts from Hiroki Kuroda (9 1 0 0 0 6) and Derek Lowe (7.2 2 1 1 1 4). The two pitchers combine for a 3.4 GB/FB ratio in their outings, notable particularly because of their starting shortstop: Nomar Garciaparra. Fresh off the DL and in his natural position for the first time since August 2005, Nomah hits like the shortstop of old, going .294/.400/.588 in five starts.
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