This and every weekday a.m., let's rise and shine together with the most recent and decent major league happenings.
Today's Roll Call starts in the Comiskey Park area of Chicago, home through the years to some great Cuban athletes, including Minnie Minoso, El Duque and Jose Contreras. Contreras led the White Sox to their sixth straight win, against Cleveland, allowing a run over six innings. Contreras, who has a 2.44 ERA in his past eight starts, handles adversity and acts as a proud symbol for his country much differently than did another famous emigre (albeit a fictional one) from Fidel Castro's Cuba, Tony Montana.
AL Game of the Day: White Sox 4, Indians 1
Contreras. Issue: Poverty. Action: Makes Cuban national team as pitcher, goes to Olympics.
Montana. Issue: Poverty. Action: Unspecified criminal activity leads to Miami exile on Mariel Boatlift.
Contreras. Issue: Wants to pitch in America. Action: Defects to Mexico, signs with Yankees.
Montana. Issue: Needs Green Card to exit Freedomtown. Action: Kills party member Emilio Rebenga.
Contreras. Issue: Can't beat BoSox, Yanks' rival. Action: Traded in '04 to White Sox for Esteban Loaiza.
Montana. Issue: Loathes being called "a dishwasher." Action: Survives chainsaw attack in bad drug deal, kills Hector the Toad, joins Omar Suarez's outfit.
Contreras. Issue: Loses Game 1 of '05 ALCS. Action: Tosses CG in clincher for 1st Sox pennant since '59.
Montana. Issue: Finds that buddy and partner sleeps with his sister. Action: Kills Manny in coke-fed rage.
Contreras. Issue: Goes 14-26 with 5.51 ERA from 2nd half of '06 through '07. Action: Stays positive.
Montana. Issue: Refuses to kill congressman's kids on hit. Action: Kills co-hitman instead.
Contreras. Issue: Hears fans call for removal from rotation. Action: Works on forkball.
Montana. Issue: Kingpin's hitmen surround Tony at mansion. Action: "Say hello to my little friend!"
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NL Game(s) of the Day: Braves 6-6, Mets 1-2
Damn Yankees: Meanwhile in Gotham City, it looks like Billy Wagner's gotta say something again. Carpetbaggers from the big city get their comeuppance as Tara defends herself from the Union. Tom Glavine, 42, and John Smoltz, 41, are shutting 'em down again — Glavine on the field (17 retired in a row at one point) and Smoltzie off. No more pressers until he returns from shoulder trouble because some in the media misinterpret his briefings.
Irony: And that story about Smoltz burning himself while wearing a shirt he also happened to be ironing at the time? Urban legend. Damn media.
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Feelin' rundown (Tuesday's other games):
Tigers 12, Mariners 8 — This is the game, the Tigers say. This is the game that begins the first day of the rest of their lives. Verlander had his great stuff. The offense broke out its whoopin' sticks. Jim Leyland went off (again), this time against Jason Grilli and anyone still in the clubhouse (this means you, Carlos Guillen) who thinks the big expectations the Tigers had were unfair. Has SlumpBot .200 done a Tigers expose yet? Can I do it? Can I? Can I? OK.
Data: 18 wins, 27 losses, $137 million payroll.
Malfunctions: 17th in runs scored; 29th in ERA; too whiny.
Diagnosis: Haven't been the same since Zumaya and Rodney broke down.
Reboot directions: They look an awful lot like the 1997 and '03 Marlins — except old and bloated. The offense probably will turn/has turned itself around with continued good health, but the pitching stinks, stinks, stinks. It's time to dump these surly ram chips from hell and get a Mac.
Rays 3, Athletics 2 — It's our year. With two outs in the eighth, Dioner Navarro hits a liner to left that Emil Brown (no relation) loses in the lights for a three-run, halogen-aided double. "Oh let the artificial light beat down upon my face ... Sure as the dust that floats high and true, when pitchin' Scott Kazmir."
Orioles 12, Yankees 2 — Eight unearned runs allowed by the Crankees, thanks to errors by the Captain and Damon. The teams almost come to blows (sure they did) after Jeter is plunked on the hand and, in retaliation, the Yankees put LaTroy Hawkins in the game to give themselves no chance of coming back. Having watched LaTroy pitch in Chicago, I have to side with him; he did not throw purposely at Luke Scott's head. Occasionally, for weeks at a time, the ball just gets away from him. A-Rod ripped on SportsCenter in his return from fainting because he homered on the wrong end of a blowout. Fine, a strikeout would have been better. TV jerks.
Red Sox 2, Royals 1 — Justin Masterson just masterful in a one-game follow-up to Jon Lester's no-no. Now go back to the minors to make room for Bartolo Colon. There was an Old West gunslinger named Bat Masterson who, after he put down his guns, became a sportswriter. No, he never shot a guy just for snorin' too loud.
Angels 3, Blue Jays 1 — Vintage Lackey. And, you can call him Erick Ow!bar — he's got a dislocated pinkie.
Brewers 7, Pirates 2 — Not to sound like an old man, but how excited should the Brewers get about Manny Parra helping to stop their five-game winning streak? The Pirates could not score against him, but he went 5 1/3 innings and needed 116 pitches to get that far. Ned Yost (still employed!) recently talked about a day when he wouldn't mind "piggybacking" two solid starters — such as Parra and Carlos Villanueva — and trying to win a ballgame that way regularly. So, five innings is the new complete game. Bah! These kids today with their video games, rap music and pitch counts. In my day...
Marlins 3, D-backs 2 — Playoff preview alert! The Rays are going to the World Series, but nobody believes in the Marlins — especially in South Florida, where about 10,000 turned out. Dan Uggla hit his sixth homer in 10 games, Kevin Gregg pulled off a 1 2/3 inning save and the Fish pulled one out against a good team despite another ugly game from Hanley, who is 1-for-15 with 10 strikeouts in the past four games. As for Micah Owings, he struck out a career-high 10 and then struck out three more times at the plate
Phillies 1, Nationals 0 — Greg Dobbs, whose pinch-hit, ducksnort RBI single provided the only run, might be the Terry Crowley of today. Ah, Greg Dobbs is lucky he's in bleepin' baseball. Also, raise your hand if you love Cole Hamels. Ooh! Ooh! I do! I do! We know that Charlie Manuel has a devilish sense of humor, so must have been joking when he said Cole Hamels can reach Orel Hershiser's record of 59 scoreless innings. Hamels has only 40 innings to go. Let's go with it. Rays in World Series, Hamels in Hershiser Country. Done and done.
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Photo of the Day: The Fukudome Flyer
Astros fans show Steve Bartman how it's done.
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Chipper Jones (Braves) 3-8, 3 R, RBI, .409 BA
Chad Billingsley (Dodgers) 7 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 7 K, Win
Jorge Campillo (Braves) 6 IP, 3 H, 7 K, Win
Edgar Renteria (Tigers) 4-4, HR, 5 RBI
Adam Jones (Orioles) 4-5, R, 4 RBI
Cole Hamels (Phillies) 7 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 11 K
Hunter Pence (Astros) 3-4, HR, 4 RBI
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Carlos Silva (Mariners) 4 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, BB, Loss
Doug Mathis (Rangers) 2 1/3 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, Loss
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"We'll just keep plugging away. Everybody is looking at you like, `These guys aren't any good.' But we're at the top of the division, where everybody wants to be." -— Marlins closer Kevin Gregg