Big League Stew - MLB

This and every weekday a.m. (until they tell us to leave) let's rise and shine together for the home stretch of a major league baseball season that seems like it just started, didn't it? Today's Roll Call starts in the Bronx, New York, where the Yankees turned out the lights on the Stadium for the last time before someone steals the bulbs and tries to sell 'em out the back of a truck parked in New Jersey.

Game of the Day: Yankees 7, Orioles 3

There used to be a ballpark there: It was a dump, but the dump had class, it had spirit and it had tradition. So, of course, we tear it down because that's what we do with old stuff. Plus, the Yankees couldn't squeeze enough dimes anymore out of it to compete with the Rays. They do remain alive for the playoffs, but they probably will be eliminated in the next day or two.

You knew he was playing: Derek Jeter on Saturday was hit on the hand by a pitch, and some were concerned he might not be healthy enough to play in the last game. He played, though he went 0-for-5. Jeter's hand would have had to have been blown clean off by Dirty Harry to miss the game, and even then they would just duct tape his glove to his other hand and send him out there. Girardi took him out with two outs to go so he could get one last standing ovation. You could argue Jeter should have been out there for the last out, too. Mariano Rivera, at least, was.

Scorched Earth Policy: Some players took advantage of being on the right side of security and filled little vials with dirt from the infield. The heck with Joe from the Neighborhood scraping paint off the fair pole, what about the Orioles and Yankees pilfering all of the land under the pitching rubber? They looked like agents from the EPA getting soil samples. Was Anthony Soprano dumping something he shouldn't have been on 161st Street and River Ave.? Aay! Aay! Shuttuppabboutit!

New York, New York, New York, New York, etc, etc, etc, etc: No question that "New York, New York" is one of Sinatra's greatest tunes. But the way authorities played it over and over and over and over on the P.A. with the players milling about and the fans not moving from their seats, it was almost like some of the brainwashing scenes in "Manchurian Candidate." This is why the city doesn't sleep, people. They never shut the dang song off!

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Feelin' Rundown (meanwhile, elsewhere in the Yankeeverse):

Brewers 8, Reds 1: Prince Fielder says a mouthful when he says: "The (teams) in front of us could do what we did — play good baseball and 'Kaplowie!' " So I did a Google search for "kaplowie" and this pretty much captures what he's taking about. Crew's 1.5 behind the Mets.

White Sox 3, Royals 0: Visited KC over the weekend. The Royals have the best outfield in the majors. Not the players, though David DeJesus has been splendid. And not the playing surface, though George Toma's legend lives on. I mean the outfield at Kauffman Stadium, specifically that which is beyond the fence. It wows you, with the old-school fountains and now the giant, giant, giant TV ("Godzillatron") in center field. Although, with all the in-park construction going on — sawhorses, cranes, port-a-potties, bulldozers and plywood — it sort of looks like a guy filled his double-wide with an 84-inch top-of-the-line HDTV. Next year, though, super. ... On Saturday, Ken Griffey didn't even bother running after a ball hit into right-center field. He just sort of loafed after it (and that's being kind) and it dropped in for a double. He could have at least tried to make a play on it, or backed up Jermaine Dye, or just looked like a baseball player hustling for no reason but to hustle. Gosh, it was embarrassing.

Braves 7, Mets 6: Stop me if you've heard this one 16 times in the second half: The Mets bullpen walks into a game and blows a save...

Cubs 5, Cardinals 1: Seventeen wins for Ryan Dempster, who better win the Tip O'Neill Award for Best Canadian Fella. The Cubs clinched home-field throughout the NL playoffs. It's expected they'll use Wrigley.

Athletics 5, Mariners 3: Joey Devine gets the save and, despite how well Brad Ziegler has pitched, that might be how it goes next season. "We have several closers in the bullpen, and it's a good group, but it is something I'd love to do," Devine said. "I have an extreme desire to do so." Let's get to Phoenix and get it on! Well, let's do Christmas first.

Padres 6, Nationals 2: This series reminds me of the '74 Topps baseball cards for the Padres that had "Washington" and "Nat'l Lea." on them instead of, you know, "San Diego" and "Padres" because there was a real chance the Pads might move into RFK Stadium. They didn't, as we know now, but publishing businesses such as Topps needed to know, like, six months ahead of time in those days. Same went for newspapers. So, if Woodward and Bernstein didn't give the Post at least 72 hours notice about something Deep Throat told them, Ben Bradlee didn't print it until the following Sunday. If you just read newspapers, you didn't know the Dolphins won Super Bowl VIII until just before kickoff of Super Bowl IX.

Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 0: Given the opportunity to watch on TV the last game at Yankee Stadium (to see if maybe the Red Sox could clinch a playoff spot) or something else, David Ortiz spelled it out plainly. "I'm going to be watching football," Ortiz said. Besides, "the best way to celebrate is by (messing) up your clubhouse." The fact that he didn't say "messing," but instead something else, is amusing.

Astros 6, Pirates 2: Roy Oswalt is 27-8 in September and October, the second-best mark in those months major league history, a little better than the Babe. Not THIS babe. THE Babe. The best is Sam Leever, a not-quite-Hall-of-Famer for the Pirates in the Honus Wagner era.

Indians 10, Tigers 5: Four days after he stayed in the dugout during a curtain call because he wasn't paying attention — too wrapped up in the moment, he said — Cliff Lee stood on the top step and tipped his cap to the home crowd. At this point, I would have said, "I'll just get you guys next year, or at Tribe Fest." Is there a Tribe Fest? (I just Googled "Tribe Fest" and "Indians Convention" with disappointing results.)

Angels 7, Rangers 3: Sixty saves for K-Rod. ... Strange situation Saturday. Texas infielder Ramon Vazquez watches from the dugout as ump Tom Hallion rings up youngster German Duran on strike three. Vazquez — this is a player, remember — comes screaming out of the dugout to protest the call, and has to be restrained by Ron Washington and, of course, dove Milton Bradley.

D-backs 13, Rockies 4: The D-B's ain't played real well since May, but if you take just one bad series away, they're tied for first place rather than scrambling to catch L.A. It's one of the wonders of the 162-game season.

Twins 4, Rays 1: The Twins trail the White Sox by three in the loss column, which means they probably need to sweep 'em this week. Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey are scheduled to pitch in each of the games, even though I'm 75-percent sure they're the same person  ... The playoff-bound Rays finish 57-24 in St. Pete, the most home victories for any team since the '98 Yankees won 62 in the Bronx. (The '01 Mariners also had 57.)

Giants 1, Dodgers 0 (11 inn.): Count on the Giants always messing with the Dodgers mojo, no matter the stakes or talent. And they got three more against each other at McCovey Cove to end the regular season.

Phillies 5, Marlins 2: The Phillies take two of three to take "control" of the NL East and to really put the Fish on the hook. Moyer improves to 11-1 in his career against Florida, which includes a win during the Second Seminole War in the 19th Century.

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Photo of the Day: Come Out and Play-yay!

Willie Randolph mistakenly thinks he's safe as the Baseball Furies (a gang from the movie "The Warriors") prepare to move in and pummel him to death. Can you dig it?

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Fantasy Freaks

Ryan Garko (Indian Tribe) 4-4, 5 RBI

Dice-K (Red-Sox) 7 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 6 K, Win

Carlos Delgado (Mets) 4-5 2 R, HR, 3 RBI

Cha Seung Baek (Pads) 7 IP, 5 H, ER, 5 K, Win

Francisco Liriano (Twins) 7 IP, 5 H, ER, 4 BB, 7 K, Win

John Danks (WSox) 7 IP, 4 H, BB, 3 K, Win

Chris Young (D-bax) 3-5, 4 R, HR, 4 RBI

John Lackey (Angels) 6 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 12 K, Wi

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Fantasy Floppers 

Dontrelle (Tigers) 2 1/3 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 6 BB! 4 K, Loss

James Loney (Dodgers) 0-5, 7 LOB

Grady (Indians) 0-4, 4 K

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Words of Mouth

"I feel like I'm losing an old friend." — Reggie Jackson

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