Baseball At The All-star Break

Midway Attractions

Barry Bonds' feuds have been among the big stories in the first half of the season.

July 07, 2002|By Peter Schmuck

Baseball mourns

The stunning death of 33-year-old pitcher Darryl Kile on June 22 cast a pail over a St. Louis Cardinals organization that had lost longtime broadcaster Jack Buck to cancer only days before. The team postponed its June 22 game against the Chicago Cubs but resumed play the next night at Wrigley Field.

Kite, who apparently died of congenital heait disease, was the first active major-league player to pass away during the season since Yankees catcher Thurman Munson died in a plane crash In 1979. Kile left a wife and three small children.

Pumped up

The baseball world shuddered when Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti went public with allegations that huge numbers of major-league players had enhanced their bodies with anabolic steroids.

The claims sparked a new debate over drug testing that stretched from baseball's troublesome collective bargaining negotiations to the halls of Congress.

Baseball owners continue to push for a comprehensive drug testing program.

The players union remains reluctant to go along. The only thing that's certain is that this is an issue that isn't going away.

More labor pains

Here we go again. The players and owners are locked in another philosophical and financial battle over the future of the game, which figures to push the sport to the brink of another disastrous work stoppage.

The owners seem intent on finding a way to slow the growth of player salaries, and this time they don't figure to settle for less. Both sides know what's at stake, but that hasn't kept them from interrupting play on more occasions than frustrated fans would like to recall.

Mets buzz the Rocket

The New York Mets and their fans waited nearly two years for Roger Clemens to bat at Shea Stadium after The Rocket beaned superstar Mike Piazza during the 2000 season and threw a bat fragment in Piazza's direction during that year's World Series. But those who were hoping to see Clemens get a real taste of his own medicine during his first plate appearance in the June 15 interleague game between the Mets and Yankees were probably disappointed.

Mets pitcher Shawn Estes threw the first pitch behind Clemens, which was enough to defuse the simmering controversy without drawing blood.

Money doesn't always talk

The Texas Rangers again have little to show for all the money that they spent during the off-season - once again wallowing at the bottom of the American League West in spite of one of baseball's largest pay-rolls.

Superstar Alex Rodriguez is earning his money, but the Rangers might be the most expensive bust since Pamela Anderson.

Not sheepish in Seattle

The Mariners never figured to match last year's record-tying total of 118 regular-season victories, but they kept everyone guessing for much of April with an impressive 17-4 start.

They've settled back down among the mortals, but they're still one of the best teams in baseball, with-standing recent challenges from the Anaheim Angels and Oakland Athletics to keep a lock on the American League West lead.

Rolen nears free agency

The Philadelphia Phlllles appear to be going nowhere, so get ready for three weeks of trade rumors involving third baseman Scott Rolen (left). He isn't having his best year, but he's going to garner a lot of mldseason interest because of his power potential and outstanding defensive skills.

The Orioles made a run at him during the winter, but backed off when owner Peter Angelos found out that Rolen had turned down a 10-year offer from the Phlllles that was reported to be $150 million. The asking price figures to fall this winter, but the strong performance of third baseman Tony Batista should keep the Orioles from getting back into the mix.

Managerial misgivings

Maybe we should have known that this would be a tough year for managers when the Red Sox fired Joe Kerrigan in the middle of spring training. Several teams followed suit early in the regular season, sending Phil Garner (Tigers), Davey Lopes (Brewers), Tony Muser (Royals), Buddy Bell (Rockies), Buck Martinez (Blue Jays) and Don Baylor (Cubs) home for an unexpected summer vacation.

Barry's battles

Barry Bonds isn't on pace to challenge his single-season home run record, but he appears to be trying to set a standard for feuding with other players. He's angry at Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti for making it look like everybody's using steroids. He's angry at.Roger Clemens for hitting him on the elbow with a pitch. He's angry at the San Francisco Giants pitching staff for not doing enough to discourage opposing pitchers from throwing inside to him, and he's fighting with teammate Jeff Kent again.

Other than that, he's really a charming guy who only cares about the team.

Contract this!

The Minnesota Twins appeared destined for extinction after Major League Baseball voted to contract two teams in November. Now, with contraction off the table at least through next year, they appear to be destined for the playoffs.

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