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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Looking Beyond the Brewers

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The Milwaukee Brewers, like many other MLB teams, are being kicked in the teeth once again after living up to their end of a bargain. It appears the Brewers ‘Ace,’ Ben Sheets, is looking to take his accomplished resume elsewhere. Sheets says he’s headed in the direction of free agency, and we know how that usually turns out for the Brewers: bubkes. Despite the fact Sheets has been stained with injury, the Brewers have done a pretty good job trying to retain talent and has been candid about their intentions with players.

Sheets is quoted in a local daily, “you can’t invite yourself back.” Who says? Sure you can invite yourself back. In fact, why don’t you do just that? Or is that baseball rhetoric, code for, “I wouldn’t come back if you were the last team on earth?”

The organization has had some pretty tough luck. Last year they lost Francisco Cordero after rescuing him from a Titanic-proportioned career meltdown. The flame-thrower eschewed the Brewers offer despite the fact the team resurrected his career on a scale which would have impressed even Lazarus. Apparently that doesn’t mean much to the native of the Dominican Republic.

While the team had every good reason to sign him to a long-term contract, Derrick Turnbow collapsed quicker than an octogenarian with hip-dysplasia. Add Eric Gagne’s struggles on the mound into the mix and you can imagine the size of general manager Doug Melvin’s migraine. The team was right to wait and see if Sheets would ever regain the form he once possessed, but that hesitation may ultimately cause him to bolt for another team.

After injury-prone years, Sheets is having a dream year in terms of production and will draw huge interest from other teams. Sheets pitched a complete-game four-hitter last week against Atlanta, and is 9-1 with a 2.59 earned run average through 15 starts, with a league-best three complete games. None of those stats bode well for the Brewers retaining his services.

Cubs/White Sox

The Cubs-White Sox rivalry is known as the Crosstown Classic, a noble sounding match-up, like a golf tournament, the Red Line rivalry, Expressway Series or Crosstown Showdown.

Any way you slice it the Cubs battered the Sox around the block and then some. The Cubs swept three games leaving the Sox to lick their collective wounds until next time. Chicago is a great town and it’s nice to see it get its collective panties in a wad when they have to square off, the north side versus the south side. If you live in Chicago, there’s no neutral ground—you’ve got to choose.

A couple of years back the series included an impromptu boxing match when the Cubs and White Sox added a new chapter to the already intense rivalry:A brawl broke out in the bottom of the second inning, Brian Anderson of the White Sox hit a sacrifice fly, attempting to score catcher A.J. Pierzynski. This resulted in a play at the plate with Pierzynski colliding with Cub catcher Michael Barrett, knocking him over and jarring the ball loose. After slapping home plate in celebration, Pierzynski began to walk away, but Barrett blocked his path and punched him in the jaw. This set off fighting between the two teams and Barrett drew a 10-game suspension.

Blubber and the Kid

It was a match made in golf hell, involving a chain-smoking glob of goo and a rocker from the fair city of Detroit.

Golf is a game which prides itself as an elite sport, played by gentleman with a voluminous amount of disposable income. Just like Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack, the bulbous John Daly and his gelatinous frame did their best to send golf back light years to the stony hills of Tennessee. Daly, who waddled across the course during the Buick Open Pro-Am at a Detroit-area golf club on Wednesday, did the unthinkable. He executed a publicity stunt that would make Bobby Jones roll over in his urn, make Tiger Woods miss a two-foot putt, make Greg Norman win a championship. Daly, who made his claim to fame with his ability to hit extraordinarily long tee shots, crushed a ball which was teed-up on a full can of Budweiser, much to the delight of the toothless gallery in attendance.

As if this couldn’t get any more surreal, he was partnered with Kid Rock dressed in overalls and an Amish farming hat. Rock held a tall-boy Bud while his new pal Daly unabashedly smashed a golf ball from the top of the can. Hundreds mindlessly followed the two cutups along the tees and fairways as Daly delighted fans by signing autographs off the top of his belly, and Kid Rock, looking woefully out of place, smiled and flailed his greasy hair.

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