1. Colorado Rockies. All signs are pointing towards another Rocktober as Colorado took 3 of 4 from the Giants in a key wraparound series over the weekend. Last night's win came in extras courtesy of a Ryan Spilborgs grand slam and one of the other two wins came over San Fran ace Tim Lincecum. The Freak was outdueled by Ubaldo Jiminez in a matchup that would be great to see again once the leaves begin to change color. Buoyed by Jimenez's continued dominance (6-0 with a 2.46 ERA since the All-Star break) and the return to rookie form of Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies are arguably playing the best baseball in the National League. And they'll get a chance to prove it with the NL West-leading Dodgers coming to the Mile High City nursing a shrinking lead.
2. Aston Villa. The Villains of Aston took a match off Liverpool at Liverpool for this time since 2001. The 3-1 victory over a supposed title contender must leave Villa feeling good about replicating their top six (meaning entry to some form of European tourney) finish from last season. This was the second league defeat for Liverpool to start the campaign and sees their title hunt already jeopardized.
3. Baltimore Ravens Defense. When longtime Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan signed on as the head coach of the New York Jets this offseason there was a rousing cheer from his former players. They had fought for and been inspired by Ryan during his year's directing the most consistently ferocious defensive unit of its era. They loved him. They were sad to see him go but happy to see him get his chance at the top spot on the sideline. And they wanted to pulverize his team on Monday Night Football. The Ravens' D picked off both of the Jets' hopefuls at the quarterback position, returning both picks to the house for six. The Ravens' defense outscored the Jets offense, 14-7, in the first half.
4. Tampa Bay Rays. Although the Rays haven't shined as brightly as they did during the 2008 season they are still alive for the Al Wild Card, having taken two out of three from the Rangers over the weekend. They opened the new work week with a throttling of Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays. Not bad for a Monday. Perhaps it was the decision of silver-maned manager Joe Maddon to dye his hair black that inspired the Rays to hang seven earned runs (and eight altoghter) on the Doctor. Or maybe it was the continued re-emergence of Carlos Pena, who homered again.
5. Edgerrin James. Back in the summer of 2000 when ESPN the Magazine seemed like it could really gain some traction and become something new and important in the world of sportswriting there was a friend of mine reading an issue with James on the cover. He was reading the feature by James (with Dan Le Batard) and, in typical suburban awe at the dude's attitude and life, he marveled, "Man, that Edgerrin James is one hardcore nigger." It wasn't meant to be racist (or to not be racist). We were the only two people in the room and I was watching television (probably a Win Ben Stein's Money re-run on Comedy Central) and he was half talking to himself. Those were just the words that came out of his mouth (and was probably just what Le Batard and James were going for) after reading things like "You ever seen someone smoke crack? Where I'm from, I considered it entertainment. Me and my boys would beg for change, pool our money and buy crackheads their five-dollar hits -- but only if they smoked right in front of us. They'd smoke it in cans, pipes, any damn thing, and then, real fast, they'd go into this zone, acting all crazy, making these out-of-control motions. We'd sit on that corner in Immokalee, Fla., and laugh all day, man. I was 10." Ten years and 2,982 carries later, Edge is still hanging in the NFL. He hooked on the with Seattle Seahawks in a lightly publicized move that could pay big dividends later. The Seahawks are a veteran club decimated by injuries last year that could easily outperform expectations if they stay healthy. I like this move for James and for the club.
Sixth Boy. The Little League World Series.
It was the best of times...
It was the blurst of times...