This and every weekday a.m., let's rise and shine together with the most recent and decent major league happenings. Today's NL roll call starts in the ATL, where one often has to change planes but there are no direct commercial flights to Cooperstown, where someday Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones is headed for a bust ...
Game of the Day: Braves 14, Reds 7
Jonesing for Chipper: He's had a fantastic career but he's underrated when it comes to placing him with the game's best in this or any era. And if somebody out there gives me a, "Oh, Hanley Ramirez went second in my roto draft, you're an idiot"-like comment, you're getting a virtual slap. Let's see ... other than Bonds and A-Rod, you could argue Chipper was as good or better than Griffey, the Big Hurt, Sheffield, Manny.
Slaps: Only 5 All-Star games for Chipper, which can be explained but not justified. I would not bet on anyone else for the batting title this season. I would not bet on him hitting .400, but if he can avoid a big drop in May — it's happened a few times in his career this month — he has as good of a shot as anyone since Tony Gwynn.
Zip: Owners of Mark Teixeira, commiserate. All of those runs, and 19 hits, and Teixeira goes 0-for-3 with 2 walks.
Performance-enhancing diety?: Julio Franco retired. Darn, he didn't make it to 50 (as a ballplayer). After Andy Van Slyke accused him of using steroids, Franco famously replied — in Pedro Cerrano-like fashion — "I'm on the best juice there is. I'm juiced up every day, and the name of my juice is Jesus." They always suspected the same of Brett Butler, but lacked proof!
Feelin' rundown (Sunday's other ballgames)
Marlins 10, Padres 3 — Like Morgan Freeman's "Shawshank" character, Red — who was denied parole after parole after parole — Greg Maddux is denied his 350th career win for the 4th straight time. At least he can get rocks for Peavy. OK, that is the stupidest analogy in the history of stupid analogies, but it's what I got.
Mets 5, D-backs 2 — Phoenix is just as comfy for New Yorkers as is Miami. Mets won at Chase Field for the 15th time in 17 games. No one else seems to know the area code out there, much less the D-backs' number. Conor Jackson made a bad throw in the 9th that caused a lot of pain. No decisions for Johan Santana and Dan Haren.
Nationals 5, Pirates 2 — The Nats are 1-0 without Ryan Zimmerman, who requested and received a day off after 205 consecutive appearances. Iron Man, he's not. Somewhere, an evil Cal Ripken is chuckling like a mad scientist in a James Bond movie. Wait, there's an evil Cal Ripken somewhere? Does that mean there's also an ugly Jim Palmer, a skinny Boog Powell, a non-swearing Earl Weaver and a beloved Peter Angelos out there?
Rockies 7, Dodgers 2 — Aaron Cook is about all the Rox have going for themselves. He's 6-1, they're 6-18 when he's not pitching. That's not gonna get you back to the World Series. Maybe the World Series of Beer Pong.
Cardinals 5, Cubs 3 — It was ex-Cub gonna gitcha night at Busch, as Todd Wellemeyer (who's actually pitching really well as a starter, and why didn't the Cubs think to try him there?) sloshed through 5 OK innings and Cesar Izturis had 2 hits and 2 runs. The Cubs really miss Izturis because of the support he gave power hitters such as Aramis Ramirez, shown here in this Zapruder-like video. Back and to the left, Cesar, back and to the left. And no giggling!
Astros 8, Brewers 6 (12 inn.) — After Eric Gagne blew his fifth save already, Hunter Pence improved on an 0-for-5 start with a 2-run homer over the Crawford Boxes for an Astros winner. Lance Berkman had 4 hits including his 10th homer, and Ben Sheets — no walks after 7 in his previous outing — had an ND. Looking ahead to his next scheduled start, Sheets is 3-4 in 9 career starts against Florida — with a 3.08 ERA and a 68-8 strikeout/walk ratio. Weird when stats don't add up neatly.
Phillies 6, Giants 5 — What started as a juicy pitching matchup between Tim Lincecum and Cole Hamels finished on a goofy error. Eugenio Velez (he's an infielder, apparently) booted a grounder in the 9th that allowed Ryan Howard to chug home with the winning run, giving the Phils their 10th come-from-behind victory. Pat the Bat had a pair of doubles and 2 RBIs — giving him 30, good for 2nd in the NL. Here's a scintillating quote from Burrell: "I'm seeing the ball well. I feel like I've had some good at-bats recently. Beep. Beep. Beep." That's why he's paid to hit. That's why he's Pat the Bat!
Photo of the Day: "Betcha fifty bucks that Pence takes him deep right here. Chump."
While husband George grits out 12 innings at Minute Maid Park, Barbara Bush is momentarily distracted by a possible Kevin Bass sighting.
Chipper Jones (Braves) 3-6 HR, 5 RBI, .425 BA
Bronson Arroyo (Reds) 1 1/3 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, BB, Loss, 8.63 ERA
"There's a lot of tough teams in this division and I just want us to be one of them." — Cardinals manager Tony La Russa