Most weekday a.m.'s this season, we've risen and shined together with the most recent and decent major league happenings — some of which have been downright absurd. Today's roll call passes out certificates (the trophies that strangely look like the Orange Bowl award are on back-order!) for the best of the strangest of baseball's first half. Let's call them the Juicys.
Stories of the Half-Year
Juicy Best Balk Move — Shawn Chacon, Astros. Balked at moving to the bullpen, and balked at having a meeting to discuss it, so he took general manager Ed Wade by the back of the neck and slammed him to the floor. Wade was OK, but Chacon was released and it got us wondering about the other great intra-team scrapes of all-time.
Juicier Best Torture Not Banned by Geneva Conventions — New York Mets. They re-enacted the Colts' middle-of-the-night move to Indy by firing Willie Randolph one day into a West Coast road trip in the wee hours. But at least Willie got to write about it.
Juiciest Best Cell Phone Hack — Fake Adam Dunn. Blue Jays general manager J.P. "Big Whopper" Ricciardi says someone claiming to be Reds slugger Adam Dunn — whom JP-Rich recently had besmirched on his own call-in talk show — called his cell phone seeking conflict resolution. Ricciardi apologized, but not to Dunn, who said he made no such call.
More Juicys after the jump ...
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Juicy Hip to be square — More dangerous apparently than shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater or "Free gas!" on an American street corner is a tongue-in-cheek rant against the hip bump craze — this millennium's answer to the high-five — that the kids are doing. 'Duk's June 11 post has drawn no fewer than 3,200 comments, some of which — not to sound like a parent — were really, really mean. Hey, if you can't stand the heat, Harry Truman, then the buck stops here. But be nice to Kevin, he's a good boy, a better man and he only wants to entertain the nice people while they're at work!!
Juicier High five alive! — Just when you thought major leaguers were aloof millionaires, unable to relate to the average fan in any way — perhaps like your congressman — Manny Ramirez dispels such nonsense by making a great running catch in Baltimore, scaling the left-field fence at Camden Yards, high-fiving a fan (who happened to be wearing a Red Sox jersey — how did Manny so alertly pick him out of the crowd?) and firing the ball back toward the infield to start a double play. Are you kidding? Always, but earnestly.
Juiciest When Weaver moves and we score runs — Something magic happens every time you go to Camden Yards. Maybe you get a high five from Manny, maybe you get to see George Sherrill walk to the bullpen balancing a full cup of coffee on his brim. Or maybe it's you. You make the magic happen — the magic of Orioles' Baseball!
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The First Half in Photos
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People Being People
Juicy Best Press Conference Honesty — Bill Bavasi, formerly of the Mariners. It will take a long while for Bavasi to live down his decisions with the M's; signing Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson for gob$ and calling it an off-season, and trading for Erik Bedard and thinking you had an ace set back the franchise a good decade. At least he let Bedard, who reportedly is a "dumbass," have it at his going-away party.
Juicier Best DJ Request — Milton Bradley, Texas Rangers. After hearing Royals announcer Ryan Lefebvre putting him down on the air — he had a free moment in the clubhouse — Bradley hurried upstairs to the press box to see what else might ooze out of Lefebvre's big mouth. Before confrontation, Bradley was stopped by PR and manager Ron Washington and bedlam was averted.
Juiciest Best Transformation Into A Bum! — Richie Sexson, Seattle Mariners. Realizing he can't hit, Sexson starts a distracting bench-clearing brawl by charging the mound and throwing his helmet at Rangers lefty Kason Gabbard. The M's, who have more problems than some countries in central Africa, do not let his aggression stand and cut Sexson just before the All-Star Break. Sexson will spend the rest of the summer wandering around bowling alleys searching for his rug.
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Mariah Carey (Island Records) Great Arm
Chipper Jones (Braves) Hit .400. For a while.
Replay (MLB) It's coming! But what if it came already?
CC Sabathia (Brewers) 9 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, BB, 9 K, Win, HR
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Maple Bats (MLB) Brian O'Nora
Hank Steinbrenner (Yankees) Oh, Henry, please zip it
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Let's Wrap This Up Already
Juicier Best Misappropriation of $137-138 Million — Detroit Tigers. They're at .500 after starting 0-7 and being 12 under about six weeks ago. Well, la-dee-dah!