So you think the White Sox stepped up last week? The Dodgers? Maybe, but no one asserted themselves last week more than Gary Gillette on "Baseball Today," ESPN.com's daily podcast and the Fastest 15 Minutes in Baseball.
From breaking down the duel between Wayne Krivsky and Jim Bowden ("Everyone in Cincinnati ... thinks they have a good read on how Bowden operates") to taking Roger Clemens to task ("Maybe if he had actually pitched for Houston most of the year, they might be ahead in the wild-card race"), Gillette was at his straightforward best. So much that we almost forgot that Rob Neyer suggested the Red Sox consider moving Jonathan Papelbon into the rotation on the fly ... almost.
Below is even more of the best our guests had to offer last week, along with our top listener mail (click here to send us your own comments/ravings for the show) and our Crystal Ball standings, the race you never saw coming. Join the "Baseball Today" army by either subscribing (for free!) via iTunes -- see below for easy instructions -- or by bookmarking this page.
Quotes Of The Week
Monday, Aug. 10: Gary Gillette
On the red-hot Dodgers: I didn't expect them to make trades for two starting infielders (Wilson Betemit and Julio Lugo). Of course, you can't depend on guys like [Nomar] Garciaparra and [Jeff] Kent to stay healthy. But the way Nomar was playing, if he's capable of swinging the bat, he's in the lineup. So what do you do with Jeff Kent, or what do you do with Betemit if Lugo moves to third?
Tuesday, Aug. 11: Jerry Crasnick
On the White Sox's pitching: I keep waiting for the White Sox to assert themselves, but they're just not getting the pitching they got [last year]. Some people say that those guys threw a lot of innings and went deep into October. But their whole rotation really hasn't done what they expected it to. Otherwise, I would think they'd have the clear advantage in the wild card.
Wednesday, Aug. 12: Rob Neyer
On Francisco Liriano's injury: These kids are trained from day one to suck it up or walk it off, all those clichés. I think it's difficult to break out of that mind-set, but teams have to work on it because there's no reason for a 22-year-old pitcher to be on the mound with his arm hurt.
Thursday, Aug. 3: Rob Neyer
On Mike Piazza's resurgence in San Diego: He's doing exactly what the Padres dreamed he might do. And between him and Josh Bard, I would guess the Padres have easily the best catching in the National League.
Friday, Aug. 4: Gary Gillette
On the Red Sox getting swept by the Royals: That's a tribute to [Curt] Schilling that they thought he could get through that. He's such a horse. He's really the old-style ace, the old-style rotation anchor. But it also says something about the Red Sox bullpen, where they had something like 27 major league arms in that bullpen and Jonathan Papelbon not in the bullpen. Now the bullpen consists of Papelbon, Papelbon and Papelbon and pray that your starter goes nine.
Best Listener Mail
(To contribute a comment for the show, click here)
I am sure Steve Stone's "Colonel Sanders" reference in regard to Steve Phillips (during the ESPN Reds-Cardinals broadcast Thursday) was making fun of Phillips' Col. Sanders-type white beard. This was the kind of comment that made Stone so much fun to listen to when teamed with Harry Caray in Chicago. Keep up the good work, and I hope there is a baseball podcast in the offseason. The NBA and NFL are both nothing but fillers until baseball season begins.
-- Kevin (Midvale, Utah)
The Phillies aren't better off without [Bobby] Abreu and [Cory] Lidle. However, they ARE better off without David Bell and Sal Fasano playing every day. Abraham Nunez can't hit, but he can at least field. Chris Coste is giving the Phils their first production all season at catcher.
-- Eric (Philadelphia)
Good coverage of the Bowden-Krivsky affair. ... Yours is the only show that gave me a complete and balanced perspective. You're right: Neither side has clean hands in that deal. With that said, Bowden might have foreclosed on some future trades through his behavior.
-- Dave Ross
Crystal Ball Standings
Make sure you tune in Wednesday when we rake Steve Phillips over the coals for mocking our question about waiver deals, Javy Lopez going to Boston, then Steve going on vacation and ducking us. (Soon, we hope to let listeners join the fun by making the same predictions as our guests each day via the Web.)
Here are the standings as Monday began:
Alan Schwarz is the host of ESPN.com's Baseball Today and the senior writer of Baseball America. His book, "The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics," can be ordered on Alan's Web site.