- The Washington Times - Monday, August 12, 2002

Baseball writer Mark Zuckerman ranks the week's most talked-about stories:
1
DAY OF RECKONING?
Aug. 16? Sept. 1? Sept. 16? None of the above? Take your pick.

2
BONDS GETS TO 600
The suspense was killing me.

3
SMOLTZ FASTEST TO 40 SAVES
But he wants to go back to starting. Hey, John, ever hear of Dennis Eckersley?

4
DELGADO ENDS CONSECUTIVE GAMES STREAK AT 432
Well, Cal Ripken can rest easy now.

5
DARRELL PORTER FOUND DEAD
Cards franchise doesn't deserve what it's been dealt this year.

6
AARON BOONE HOMERS TWICE IN ONE INNING
No, not Bret. No, not Bob. No, we don't know who he plays for either.

7
KENNY ROGERS LOSES PERFECT GAME IN 8TH
You'd think the Gambler would know when to walk away.

8
O'S SWEEP TWINS
So, in other words, they now only lead the division by 13 games.

9
JOHNSON FIFTH IN CAREER K'S
But first among pitchers over 6-foot-9.

10
JOHN HENRY WILLIAMS GIVES UP PLAYING CAREER
He wants to spend more time with the family.

AROUND THE LEAGUES
NATIONAL
ASTROS

The ballpark formerly known as Enron has gone through more than just a name change in the past year. Once a home run haven, the new Minute Maid Park has morphed into something of a pitcher-friendly place. In its first season of operation (2000), the park yielded 12.4 runs per game, second only to Colorado's Coors Field. This season, that number is down to 9.2 runs per game, 12th in baseball.
BREWERS

Milwaukee is well on its way to a 10th straight losing season and perhaps the worst record in franchise history. But manager Jerry Royster, who replaced Davey Lopes in midseason, isn't agonizing over his team's poor play. "You wonder how I can be so calm about it, but it is simple," Royster said. "It is real obvious what went wrong. When we came out of spring training, we were expecting certain guys to do certain things, and they have not done it."
DODGERS

It's become popular during television broadcasts of games to wire up a coach or bench player so fans at home can hear the "sounds of the game." The Dodgers TV crew may have gone too far, though. During last Wednesday's game, pitching coach Jim Colborn was caught on air talking strategy with some of his players. When the club found out, it immediately pulled the plug.
EXPOS

To all those conspiracy theorists who have been questioning Montreal's recent trades of and for such top players as Bartolo Colon and Cliff Floyd: Get a life. Expos GM Omar Minaya has done a masterful job this season under near-impossible conditions. Told by Major League Baseball that he could not add any payroll, Minaya still managed to go out and acquire two of the best available players in hopes of making a postseason run. And when the Expos started to fizzle last month, he had the wherewithal to deal Floyd away and get something in return.
METS

Ty Wigginton
has wasted no time making a name for himself as a big leaguer. In his first three games with the Mets, the rookie utility player had a four-hit game, a three-hit game, a homer and four RBI. And to top it all off, Wigginton was part of one of the defensive plays of the year, making a sprawling catch of a popup after teammate Roberto Alomar bobbled it several times.

AMERICAN
ATHLETICS

Terrence Long
's game-saving catch at Fenway Park last Wednesday might not have been the most difficult play of the year (the fence is only about 4 feet tall in right-center). But anyone else will be hard-pressed to come up with a more meaningful defensive play all season. Long, who sprinted from center field to rob Manny Ramirez of a ninth-inning homer, not only won the game for the A's, he ensured a series victory over the Red Sox, not to mention a virtual tie in the AL wild-card standings.
BLUE JAYS

Toronto has been trying to build its pitching staff around young arms like Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter, but the Blue Jays' most successful pitcher of late has been journeyman Steve Parris. In his first 10 starts since coming back from shoulder surgery, the right-hander went 5-2 with a 3.77 ERA, raising questions about whether the Jays should try to re-sign him. Parris makes $3.77million this year, and Toronto is unlikely to want to spend more than that to keep him.
RED SOX

There's no question that Boston has one of the best 1-2 pitching combos in baseball in Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe, but the bottom three-fifths of the Red Sox rotation doesn't get the credit it probably deserves. No.3 starter John Burkett has won 10 games, more than any other third starter in the game. And Tim Wakefield and Casey Fossum, both recently relocated from the bullpen, are more than acceptable starters for the back end of the rotation.
ROYALS

Without receiving much attention (aside from trade rumors), Kansas City's Paul Byrd has had an outstanding season. Byrd, just about the only good thing to come out of the Royals' season, has displayed precision control en route to his team-high 14 victories. When he threw four straight balls to Derek Jeter last Thursday, Byrd saw his streak of 42⅔ innings without allowing a walk expire. He fell just four innings shy of the club record, set in 1976 by none other than Doug Bird.
WHITE SOX

Mark Buehrle
makes only $310,000 this season. Don't expect the White Sox to be able to hang on to him much longer at that rate. Buehrle, one of the best young pitchers in the game, has one more year to go before he'll become arbitration-eligible. Chicago would be wise, however, to lock him up to a multi-year deal now, similar to the four-year, $9.5million contract Cleveland gave C.C. Sabathia. Buehrle is every bit as good, if not better.
Mark Zuckerman

QUOTABLE
"Our sport is clean and if it's not, we'll do something to clean it up."
National League player representative Tom Glavine on the drug-testing issue in baseball, a key during labor talks.
"They have the best lineup, great pitching and a great ballclub. We're just the Kansas City Royals."
Royals reliever Jason Grimsley after helping his team beat the Yankees 6-2.

THE LIST
Most shutouts this season
Red Sox16
Athletics13
Mariners11
Dodgers11
Braves10
Marlins10

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