After completing an undercover mission for Bud Selig a car trip east that included much shenanigans — big thanks to all those who filled in, especially that Shrimp on a Treadmill — let's rise and shine together again with the Yankiest and Crankiest in the domain of Major League Baseball. Today's Roll Call starts in Memphis, Tenn., and Orange County, Calif., respectively, where we lost not only the Black Moses of Soul but also the New York Yankees, whose playoff aspirations need some respirations after the Bronx took a flying leap down a deep shaft.
Game of the Day: Angels 4, Yankees 3
Big Space Clam in the Sky: Aside from being a noted Scientologist, Isaac Hayes made love gravy as Chef on the kiddie wacko cartoon "South Park." Aside from that, he was Gandy Fitch, one of the great characters in the history of "The Rockford Files." Aside from that, he was one of the most influential musicians of our time, his works including the incomparable theme from "Shaft" and "Soul Man" — which he co-wrote. Hayes was found in his home on Sunday. He was 65.
Goners: Also in need of a remembrance are the Yankees, who fall on Chone Figgins' RBI single against Mo Rivera in the ninth. After being swept by the Halos, Los Janquis are 8 1/2 games behind Our Rays and four games behind the Bostons in the AL East. Not insurmountable deficits, but with Jawba on the DL and Grady Little not managing the Sawx anymore, nothing less than a miracle will get the Yanks to the playoffs for the 14th straight season.
No one understands him but his woman: An inning before Rivera's leak, Rodriguez hits a one-out double and tries to steal third, but is thrown out by catcher Mike Napoli. A-Rod defended his attempt, but added that "every game is a playoff from now on." Oh, A-Rod, let Jeter say the "P" word.
Chicken leg: Andy Pettitte commits the balkiest balk in the history of balks in the third. Listen to the cackling of announcer Rex Hudler after Pettitte hits Richie Sexson's leg with the ball. Sexson shows restraint by refusing to fling his helmet at Pettitte.
Feelin' Rundown (Sunday's other ballgames):
Rays 11, Mariners 3: Franchise record for wins — and we still got 45 games to go — plus the return of Rocco Baldelli from beyond. Despite the good news, this is a dangerous time for Our Rays, with Carl Crawford on the DL and Longoria nursing a baby bump a sore wrist.
White Sox 6, Red Sox 5: If the White Sox don't hit homers, they don't usually win. Good thing for them they seem to hit three every game. Tim Wakefield has a sore arm and goes on the DL. I thought knuckleballers threw just with their fingernails.
Rangers 15, Orioles 7: Ian Kinsler (.205 since the All-Star break) has five hits and goes deep for the first time since July 5. Maybe someone should look up the stats of guys who watch a teammate during the home run derby to see if there's a statistical drop-off in the second half. OK, it's just a theory.
Royals 5, Twins 4 (12 inn.): THIS is why Dayton Moore kept .157 Tony Pena around. If Yankees coach Tony Pena, 51, came out of retirement today, he probably would hit better than his 27-year-old son. Did Big Tony also help produce Onix Concepcion and Buddy Biancalana, the two other worst shortstops in Royals history?
Tigers 6, Athletics 1: The A's have thrown in the towel, they just didn't get anything on the throw.
Indians 4, Blue Jays 0: I get all excited because Cliff Lee's season suddenly reminded me of Steve Carlton's 27-10 with the last-place Phillies in '72. Then I saw that others have made this comparison already, which burst my bubble or originality. Life turns swiftly.
Marlins 8, Mets 2: Before you go calling Fredi Gonzalez a loon for saying that getting Josh Johnson back "was like Milwaukee getting (CC) Sabathia," please consider: The Marlins are 6-0 in JJ's starts. The Brewers are
6-0 6-1 in CC's starts. JJ is 6-foot-7. CC is 6-7. And that's it. OK, he's still a bit of a loon, but he's not wrong so far.
Astros 13, Reds 4: Carlos Lee might be out for the season, so naturally someone writes that Barry Bonds might be right for the 'Stros. "Bonds is not a fit for us," manager Cecil Cooper responds. "If he would come, I would go. I wouldn't want to deal with it."
Phillies 6, Pirates 3: Philly's Ben Franklin Institute is hosting a "Real Pirates" exhibit that most likely will not include this sequence from the third inning. Jamie Moyer, a childhood friend of Franklin, says he called for oxygen afterward.
Brewers 5, Nationals 4 ( 13 inn.): It takes four more innings than it should have against the Gnats, but at least the Brewers get through a Manny Parra start without any teammate-on-teammate violence.
Padres 16, Rockies 7: Man, you come back from a little break and find that Brian Giles vetoes a trade to the Red Sox and Livan Hernandez is back in the National League. Heck can break loose at any moment, and Big League Stew is there!
Giants 5, Dodgers 4: If the Giants have accomplished anything in the past 40 years, it's being a spoiler for the Dodgers, who won't be able to win the NL West with Status Kuo as closer.
Cubs 6, Cardinals 2: Fukudome hits .236 in July and is 3-for-28 in August. Piniella is using the stereotypically American way of motivation — assigning blame — by threatening to reduce playing time. Kosuke is responding to his slump in the stereotypical Japanese way — by trying to fix the problem. By the way, I learned all that American/Japanese way stuff from watching "Rising Sun."
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Photo of the Day: Chomp!
Cowering in fear, Manny Ramirez (right) offers his bat as a sacrifice to the terrifying Mitt Monster of McCovey Cove.
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Johnson (Fish) 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, Win
Nate Robertson (Tigers) 7 2/3 IP, 5 H, ER, BB, 5 K, Win
Lee (Tribe) 8 IP, 8 H, K, Win
Jason Michael Bourne (CIA Astros) 2-4, HR, 4 RBI
Kinsler (Rangers) 5-6, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI
Marlon Byrd (Rangers) 4-6, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI
Brian Roberts (Orioles Cubs Orioles Cubs Orioles Cubs Orioles Cubs Orioles) 4-4, 3 R, SB
Melvin Mora (Orioles) 3-4, HR, 4 RBI
Ryan Madson (Lidge) IP, Save
Brian Giles (Padres Red Sox Padres) 4-6, 4 R, HR, 4 RBI
Willy Aybar (Rays) 2-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI
Edwin Jackson (Rays) 7 IP, 7 H, ER, 2 BB, 2 K, Win
Rocco (Rays) 1-4, RBI
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Chris Young (Pads) 4 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
Aaron Harang (Reds) 4 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, BB, 3 K, Loss
JJ Hardy (Brewers) 0-6
Livan (Rockies) 2 2/3 IP, 7 H, 9 ER, 4 BB, K, Loss
R.A. Dickey (M's) 5 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, Loss
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Words of Mouth
"He was due." — Royals manager Trey Hillman, on Pena.