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Down The Line

May 21, 2006|Tim Brown

Three Days in ...

San Francisco

The St. Louis Cardinals arrive, and Giants fans get to see what a real home run hitter looks like.

At a time when their guy is crafting his inside-out singles swing, Albert Pujols is leading the National League in home runs (21), runs batted in (53) and on-base plus slugging percentage (1.250).

He's 26(-ish), he's a good teammate by most accounts, and he's the future of power hitting in the NL. In fact, he's the present of it.

Several major news outlets have declared him above-reproach clean, which might be true, but it does lead to two thoughts.

One, does Don Fehr know his players' blood and urine are being scientifically analyzed in newsrooms/news-labs?

Two, the life span of a reporter's professional skepticism can now be placed at exactly 18 months.

The probables:

Monday: Mark Mulder vs. Jamey Wright

Tuesday: Jason Marquis vs. Matt Morris

Wednesday: Chris Carpenter vs. Noah Lowry

He's Chasing Ghosts,

They're Chasing ...Him

If Down the Line were Barry Bonds, it wouldn't stand in the third year of baseball's new drug testing program or the first year of an amphetamine ban, and complain about fatigue so acute he can't work out and can hardly get out of bed. Not when he suddenly is straining to keep his batting average above .225, can't get healthy and has temporarily misplaced his once reliable home-run swing.

Maybe that's 41 years old talking. And maybe it's not.

Three Trojans ...

One Titan

SoCal carrying the Astros: Tuesday's Houston lineup featured three Trojans -- Morgan Ensberg at third, Eric Munson at catcher and Jason Lane in right field -- and one Titan, Mike Lamb, at first.

America's Pastime,

the NL's ... Game

We've established that, pound for pound, man for man, ball writer for ball writer, the American League is superior to the National League.

And although that's a fine observation, it still appears that no matter its RPI rating, the AL will qualify only one team for the World Series.

What'd You Expect

for ... $36 Million?

A full season-plus since the winter free-agent pitcher class of 2004-05 -- think Russ Ortiz, Carl Pavano, Matt Clement, Eric Milton, Pedro Martinez, Jaret Wright, Jon Lieber, Odalis Perez, Derek Lowe, Kevin Millwood, David Wells, Paul Byrd, David Wells, et al. -- the most productive signing, no question, was Martinez.

But, Paul DePodesta despisers beware, Lowe is a clear second despite his sub-.500 record. Of that group of free agents, Lowe has since made the most starts (44), pitched the most innings (279 1/3 ) and has a lower ERA (3.58) than all but Martinez and Millwood.

Millwood, on the market with questions about his elbow, signed a one-year contract with the Indians after the 2004 season, then hit it big with the Rangers last off-season.

The worst? Based on reliability and production, Pavano and Wright by the Yankees, Ortiz by the Diamondbacks, Milton by the Reds.

One More Thing

From ... Jeff Borris

The Beverly Hills Sports Council agent who represents Bonds, on a third uniform violation (shoes, this time) in one season for his client: "The next call is from the American Dental Assn. saying he doesn't floss his teeth before he goes to bed at night."


-- Tim Brown

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