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Fattening frogs for snakes
"When Bud Selig talks about contraction, shouldn't he be admitting that he and the other owners committed one of the greatest blunders in the history of the sport by expanding 10 years ago, then doubled their blunder five years later? For pocket change, they cost the industry hundreds of millions, not realizing that increased demand times decreased supply equals inflation. And they're supposed to be businessmen? This is all about undoing [a] blunder, and if they ever try it, it'll cost them hundreds of millions again."

-- One National League general manager.

But then owners will blame "greedy" players.

Under the radar
Bobby Valentine has a creative suggestion to normalize games at Coors Lite Field. "Why not use restricted flight balls?" says the Mets manager. "They can be made. It's done in softball, and golf. It certainly would improve the games there, save pitchers and give the fans games under four hours."

Pieces of the past
Tim Flannery has recorded two tracks -- "The Baseball Song" and "Island Lullaby" -- for his new disc that will be finished in November, and one can download them free via his website and

"The Baseball Song" has already created something of a stir. The Padres are doing a music video. Oh yes. And because Flan mentions Pete Rose in the song, the Commissioner has asked to listen to it. And we thought it was because he liked the melody.

Son, you're gonna drive me to drinkin', If you don't stop drivin' that hot rod Lincoln
A Toronto scout this week clocked Cubs reliever Kyle Farnsworth throwing seven consecutive pitches at between 100 and 103 mph.

You can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant
Red Sox bullpen coach John Cumberland, who grew up on a farm in Westbrook, Maine, has started a tomato garden in the home bullpen at Fenway Park. He has dug 18 plants, and put sweet basil between each one.

"We haven't won since 1918," says Cumberland, "so there's the magic number. I'm trying to change the karma around here, get some sweet tomatoes and basil in the soil and change it. Hopefully, we'll have a nice, bountiful crop by October."

But what if El Guapo, Rich Garces, gets hungry out there and snacks on some? "They're not fattening," says Cumberland, "so he can eat all the tomatoes he wants."

The desert life
Randy Johnson has started 39 games at Bank One Ballpark. The D-Backs have sold one out. The average attendance for a Johnson start is 7.5 percent above the 36,688 average in games he hasn't started. It should also be noted that earlier this season the D-Backs set a single game BOB low with Johnson pitching, then broke it two nights later with Curt Schilling on the mound; the high for that series was a Miguel Batista start.

While it astounds some that all four nine inning, 20-strikeout games -- by Johnson, Roger Clemens (two) and Kerry Wood -- have been 0 walk, 20-K performances, three different managers watching Tuesday night's game from afar thought the strangest aspect of that game was that in the top of the 11th, with runners on second and third and none out in a tie game, Arizona manager Bob Brenly pitched out twice before Aaron Boone walked.

Michael Tucker then tried to squeeze, unsuccessfully, with the bases loaded and no one out, and then after Tucker made an out, Alex Ochoa hit a sacrifice fly to Steve Finley at the center-field fence on which two runs scored because Donnie Sadler raced all the way around from second base. And the Reds still lost.

Hasten down wind
Russell Branyan's season projections, as of Friday morning: .238 batting average, .866 OPS, 561 plate appearances, 53 runs, 24 doubles, five triples, 39 homers, 121 RBI, 58 walks, 184 strikeouts.

The lost highway
"We're going in one direction, he's going in the other. It's like a road map."

-- Orioles GM Syd Thrift, on declining interest in the released Vinny Castilla.

I'm just an old chunk of coal, but I'll be a diamond one day
Cincinnati's new Great American Ballpark will offer 300 "diamond" seats at $175 apiece. Behind them will be a section of 800 seats at $80 apiece, with one of the attractions that fans can sit with the scouts.

Don't know much about biology
Yale pitcher Jonathan Steitz, projected by many scouts to be a late-first or sandwich-round pick in next month's draft, is a molecular biophysics major. That may be a more traditional part of the Yale baseball tradition, which includes George Bush, Ron Darling and Ryan Long. Steitz's parents are both molecular physics professors at Yale, so there is an Alomar family tradition of another sort.

However, it should be noted that Princeton won the Ivy League for the second consecutive year and is moving on to the NCAA Regionals. Princeton is coached by Scott Bradley, the former Yankee, White Sox, Mariner and Reds catcher who prepared for coaching at the Halls of Nassau by being Randy Johnson's personal catcher when the Big Unit was developing in Seattle.

"Close your eyes and try a few of these, When I woke up, I was standing on my knees"
In an interview this week, Jose Canseco, now playing in the independent Atlantic League for the Newark Bears, said this: "I ran a 3.39, 40."

The claim went unchallenged. Just for reference, no player has ever tested close to that time in the 40-yard dash in any NFL workout.

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