Big League Stew - MLB

Twenty years ago, the "Nasty Boys" helped the Cincinnati Reds to an unlikely win in the World Series.

Might "The Pen-itentiary" do the same for this year's San Diego Padres?

There's still a long, tough National League West fight to win before the first-place Friars can even think about such heights, but their newly nicknamed bullpen gives them a good edge. Led by Heath Bell(notes) (2.22 ERA, 17 saves), Luke Gregerson(notes) (1.51) and Mike Adams(notes) (2.23), the Padres' pen sports an MLB-best 2.60 ERA. The unit is the biggest reason the Padres — picked by many, including BLS, to finish last in the NL West — sport the second-best record in the National League at 40-29.

But besides being dominating, they're also interesting. Bell has that awesome Answer Man session to his name. Gregerson overcame a bad car accident in high school to make the bigs. And now Adams — with Bell's help — is showing off "Pen-itentiary" T-shirts that earn a passing grade from this Fashion Ump and seem destined to become best sellers in San Diego.

Look, it's no secret that bullpens are traditionally the most-underappreciated unit on a baseball team. But given their great performance and nifty marketing skills, the Padres' relievers have a real shot at shedding their relative anonymity.

Fashion Ump ruling: 1-2-3 inning

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