Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
News You Can Use
2005-05-07 07:51
by Mark T.R. Donohue

It's a good thing sunrises are beautiful in the mountains. Little good news awaits the Rockies fan this fair morning, as if any has since the Don Baylor era. Joe Kennedy will miss at least one start with a left ankle bruise. Here's a rules oddity I did not know -- had Todd Helton managed to hit Kennedy's wild throw with his glove toss last night, each runner would have been awarded two bases. As I'm writing this, I see that SportsCenter has given Helton and Kennedy #1 on their Not Top Ten list for their efforts. Oh, sure, it's all sympathy for the Royals, but pile on Colorado. Must be the purple. Finally on the Colorado beat, Shawn Chacon shaved his head: "I felt like a woman at times, with all the hair products I had."

With their latest stadium initiative defeated, what's the Marlins' next move? It seems that now that there's a franchise in D.C. again, Las Vegas becomes the new bogeyman for all teams unhappy with the level of free handouts they're receiving from their current communities. More questions exist about Sin City baseball than answers. The only thing that kept MLB out of Washington for so long was undue influence exerted by Baltimore ownership; Las Vegas has a populace that works nights, a lot of competetition for the entertainment dollar, and the thorny question of gambling surrounding it. And they're no closer to having a major league ballpark than Miami is. Congress, which did an effective if heavy-handed job with the steroid mess, ought to step in and impose a 100% tax on the profits of all baseball teams that extort public money for stadiums by threatening to move. If they can build a privately-funded ballpark in San Francisco, which I can tell you from experience is one of the hardest places in America to find a decent apartment, they can can build one in South Florida, which is mostly swampland and nightclubs. We need to get Michael Moore on this.

The story in the National League so far this season has to be the Cardinals, who look head and shoulders above everybody else and stand to finish off the NL Central this month with their soft schedule. If St. Louis is the story, the sidebar would be the red-hot Brewers, whose seven-game streak ended Friday but still have the return of Ben Sheets on the horizon.

The other side of the coin would be represented by the Reds, whose brutal eight-game  stretch only got worse with a 10-run first against the Dodgers yesterday. Attendance is predictably suffering. Meanwhile, let me know if you can figure out the Phillies, who have talent in abundance yet are in last place in the East with issues ranging from Jim Thome's back to Tim Worrell's psyche. As of now, the Astros will not trade Roger Clemens, but I would be shocked if we'd heard the last of that story.

While the American League is a relative cypher (the White Sox and Orioles are not this good, people), the NL could be sorting itself out already. The Cardinals look like they're unstoppable in the Central. The West should be a race between the Dodgers and the Giants, hinging on when and if Barry Bonds returns to active duty. The East could be between two teams with fabulous pitching staffs, Atlanta and Florida, with the first to get their offense in gear taking the flag. It's too early to rule anyone out (except the Reds, Rockies, and Pirates) for the wild card.

Finally, congratulations are due to Trevor Hoffman on his 400th save. Say what you will about the watered-down nature of the modern save stat, watching baseball in Colorado if anything creates a greater appreciation for the difficulty of late-inning relief pitching.

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