Here are the five persons, places, minerals, vegetables and/or Knickerbockers that you should be talking, thinking about and/or critiquing today.
1. Y.E. Yang. On Friday, the chorus of "here we ago again" echoed in golf circles. Tiger Woods took an early lead in a Major. The tournament was done and dusted. But apparently this fellow from South Korea played his ass of on Sunday, while paired with Woods, and swiped the PGA trophy. Like most media folks, Gene Wojciechowski rushed to applaud Yang's effort while being sure to note that Tiger really should have nailed this down, no matter how great Yang was in the last round. Which he was. Wojciechowski described Tiger's play on Sunday as being "whatever the level is just below choke -- and I don't know what you'd call it -- that's where Woods ended up. He faltered. He needed 33 putts to complete the round. He was the old woman on the medic alert commercial who fell and couldn't get up."
2. Derek Jeter. There are nine positions on a baseball team. And, no. I don't think of the DH as a position. Excepting the Edgar Martinezes of the world, every player that has ever stepped on a Big League diamond since the National League was founded in 1876 has manned one of those spots. They don't really change. There are no "wildcat" second baseman or "point-forward" left fielders. The stability of baseball is one of its calling cards. Just like baseball cards. And, if baseball cards continue to exist then starting next season people will see a number at the bottom of the hits column of Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter's Topps or Upper Deck card that is higher than the number at the bottom of the corresponding column of any other player at that position. Ever. In the top of the third, Jeter fisted a ball to the opposite field for a two-base hit (could it have been anything else?). This base knock moved him passed Hall of Famer Luis Aparacio, with 2,674 hits while penciled into the lineup as the shortstop (he also has some hits as a DH). He may not have (even close to) the best glove at the position (although he seems to be moving better this year than in recent seasons) but he will seemingly always have the most hits. And, he's thirty-something behind Lou Gehrig for the most hits by a Yankees player. Ever. These are things worth noting. Even if you think he's the second best shortstop in the Bronx.
3. The Texas Rangers. Ladies and Gentlemen, please step right up and meet your new AL Wild Card leaders! Powered by anonymous young pitching, and Kevin Millwood, the Rangers, under the watchful eye of Team President Nolan Ryan have passed the Red Sox and Rays to take the lead in the race for the last playoff spot in the Junior Loop. They are No. 3 in ERA in the AL and No. 2 in home runs. Which means they are balanced. Behind Ian Kinsler, the Rangers topped the Red Sox, 4-3, in Arlington last night to edge themselves in front of Boston with a month and a half to play. And, they're lineup is stocked with solid fantasy options coming down the home stretch. In case you were wondering.
4. Arsenal FC. They had lost too many players to Manchester City. They were too cheap when it came to the transfer market. They were egotistical in their belief in their youth system. They were too stylish and too weak. These were but a few of the things being written about Arsenal in the run-up to the opening weekend of the Premiership. These points were moot by the 37th minute of the Gunners opening fixture at Goodison Park against Everton when new signee Thomas Vermaelen, formerly of Ajax, slotted home the second of what would become six goals. Arsenal thrashed Everton (and US goalie Tim Howard) on the road to show all the naysayers in and around North London that Arsene Wenger's side does not plan on surrendering their spot in Top Four (along with Man. U, Liverpool and Chelsea). Others who began the Prem campaign brightly include Tottenham (with a win over Liverpool).
5. Luis Castillo. And then there was one. The much-maligned second baseman for the Metropolitans takes the field tonight as the sole player still in place in the infield or outfield from Opening Day. And if you asked Mets fan who was least likely (and who they least wanted) to still be standing come mid-August they would have told you, to a man (and a Mets Grrl) that Luis was the player least-likely-to just about anything. Yet here he is. Playing. Well. Or, at least well-ish. Although his is the face of two of the three representative pratfalls of the 2009 Mets' season (the drop in Yankee Stadium, the fall down the dugout stairs at Citi Field and the Wright beaning), Castillo is actually having a heckuva of a year for himself. With two outs in the fifth, Castillo clouted a ball into the second deck in left field for his first home run in more than 300 at-bats, a drought that led the Majors. On the season, he's been hitting at a .300 clip, stolen more then 10 bags, hit more than 10 doubles and scored more than 60 runs. He's been consistent. And he's mostly been on the field. Had this team been healthy then this performance likely would have been just enough to get them over the hump in the NL. But they're not healthy and it's relatively meaningless.
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