Stuff I’m thinking about

  • After the standing ovation the Dome fans gave Mark Buehrle after his bid for a second consecutive perfect game was broken up in the 6th inning last night, I’ve decided it’s time to give up my resentment of Buehrle, all based on the litany of incredibly stupid things he said to or about the Twins five or six years ago. He’s a hell of a pitcher, and hardly the most offensive thing on the Sox (Hawk, Guillen, Pierzynski, and Kenny Williams, in that order). From now on, he’ll be on my list of likeable White Sox players (Thome and Buehrle, in that order).
  • And oh, yeah, Buehrle set a major league record last night by taking that perfect game into the 6th inning. With the 17 in a row he retired last night, the 27 in a row from the perfect game, and the final batter of his outing before that, he retired 45 straight batters, shooting past the old record held by his teammate, Bobby Jenks. So, a hearty congrats to Buehrle…if throwing two no-hitters in his career was unlikely for him, 45 batters in a row is like winning the lottery. (And then the Twins won anyway, so all is well.)
  • Vikings fans: everything’s okay again. Hallelujah; the nightmare is (apparently) over.
  • You probably didn’t notice this because he’s a Nat, but Josh Willingham hit two grand slams on Monday. Ruth, Gehrig, Mays, Aaron, Griffey, Bonds or McGwire? No. Willingham, Mueller, Tatis, Tabor, Hoiles, Nokes, York, and pitcher Tony Cloninger? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes, among a select few other, similarly surprising names (and F-Rob).
  • Here’s a contemporary article on Cloninger’s two slams, which I have to say were quite a bit more unlikely and interesting than Willingham’s. And here’s the boxscore. Cloninger’s career OPS was a very pitcher-like .486, and outside of 1966, his career highs in parts of seven other seasons were two homers and eight RBI, or exactly the total he came up with in those two swings in one game in ’66 (he added a ninth RBI in the game). Even better, Cloninger had had a two-homer, five-RBI game less than three weeks earlier.
  • How is Omar Minaya not history already? This was about the most incompetent display I’ve ever seen by an executive of anything.
  • I continue to believe that the Rays are the best team in the East, and in the entire American League. But they’re six and a half games behind the Yankees for first, four behind the Red Sox for the wildcard, and have Texas and conceivably even the White Sox or Twins to contend with for that as well. They may be better teams than the Yankees and Red Sox, but I don’t think it’s likely that they’re that much better.
  • I dislike the wildcard, but the National League wildcard race is shaping up to be the most (and before too long, could end up being pretty much the only) interesting race in the Majors. Fully half the league (Florida, Atlanta, St. Louis, Houston, Chicago, Colorado and San Francisco) is within three games of the wildcard lead, and since two of the divisions are already virtually wrapped up by Philly and LA, those teams will really be fighting for that one spot. It shouldn’t exist, but I’ll be interested in seeing who gets it anyway.

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