Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings

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It continues to be the Yankees world. We’re all just livin’ in it.  Last week’s rankings are in parenthesis:

1. Yankees (1): I’m struggling to think of what could knock them out of the top spot. Joba Chamberlain could go on a tri-state killing spree, I guess, but if you listen to some Yankees fans you’d think he went and did it already.

2. Rays (2): The Rays making a big move with one of their many, many prospects to add a bat could possibly change things. They are emerging from their month-long funk now, and they are probably best equipped to gird their loins for the the playoffs. Well, Carl Crawford won’t be girding his loins, but everyone else will be.

3. Padres (3): Mat Latos recovered from his debilitating sneeze to beat the Pirates on Saturday. In fact all of the Padres got well in Pittsburgh. And they get them again in a couple of weeks. Between that and the divisional matchups against Arizona, there have been a lot of free passes for the Pads lately.

4. Rangers (5): Three of four from the Angels makes it seem pretty safe for Texas to start printing playoff tickets, no? Sure, the Angels got Dan Haren, but he can only pitch every fifth day. The Rangers are better than the Angels top-to-bottom seven days a week.

5. Braves (4): Everything has broken right for the Braves this year, but if they count on an outfield of Jason Heyward and a bunch of guys who have no business starting on a playoff team, the Braves won’t be a playoff team.

6. Giants (10): San Francisco is currently above the league average in runs scored a game. The last time they finished a season above average in runs scored was 2004.

7. Cardinals (8): Losing two of three to the Cubs is no good, but staring straight ahead at nine games against the Mets, Pirates and Astros has the Cardinals licking their chops.

8. White Sox (6): Ozzie Guillen is going to put Bobby Jenks back in as closer soon. He says he’s not being emotional about Jenks’ bad performances. He has a plan, saying “we’re not crazy what we’re doing here.” Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

 9. Reds (9): Scott Rolen is probably not going to start in Milwaukee tonight, making it ten games out since he hurt his hamstring. I’m not sure I can recall a guy missing ten games without going on the DL. Lucky for Cincinnati it hasn’t really come back to bite them. Miquel Cairo (!) has actually filled in quite nicely.

10. Twins (13): Some signs of life these past few days — although it’s hard not to show signs of life against Baltimore. The question is how long can they keep it up without Justin Morneau, who doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to returning from his concussion?

11. Phillies (15): Some signs of life these past few days against a better brand of team than the Twins faced. And dead ahead are games against the Diamondbacks and Nats.

12. Dodgers (16): Anson Williams — who played Potsy on “Happy Days” sang “God Bless America” at the Dodgers-Mets game yesterday. Weisman said he did a good job. Of course he did, because Potsy was never anything if not a total pro. But you’re in Los Angeles, California and that’s the best you can do for in-game talent? Potsy doesn’t even make the cut for dinner theater in the Midwest.

13. Red Sox (11): A split against the current incarnation of the Mariners is a pretty sad statement.

14. Tigers (12): Inge down, Ordonez gone. Eventually you just run out of warm bodies.

15. Rockies (7): The current east coast swing has been terrible, but at least they (a) get Troy Tulowitzki back tomorrow; and (b) get to face the Pirates.

16. Athletics (19): They just started filming the movie version of “Moneyball” in and around the Coliseum this week. I was going to complain about the fact that they have this guy playing this guy, but given that they’re currently making a movie about how Billy Beane is a genius, I’m assuming it’s a fantasy piece anyway.  Enough bashing, though: the A’s took two of three from the Chisox. They’re playing good ball right now.

17. Blue Jays (18): I was worried that I have only been talking about the Jays insofar as they have players other teams want, ignoring them for actual, you know, baseball purposes. But on Saturday I did a radio spot on 590 The Fan in Toronto, and the sense I got from them was that’s all Jays’ fans are really paying attention to as well.

18. Mets (14): Heard this: Omar Minaya is considering firing the person who books the Mets’ charter flights. Who else could be responsible for such a lousy road trip?
 
19. Marlins (20): The Feesh are back at .500.  If form holds, they’ll now go on a 3-7 skid and then win four or five games via walkoff hits and then slowly make their way back to .500 again.  These guys would give me an ulcer if I followed them on a daily basis.

20. Angels (17): Spanked by Texas and still in need of a bat. But hey, given that Arizona didn’t make them give up anything major to pick up Haren, perhaps they make a trade for another bat.

21. Brewers (22): 7-4 since the break. Does a respectable second half save Ken Macha? Well, at least until his contract expires and he’s sent packing in October anyway?

22. Cubs (21): Not sure how you lose two of three to Houston and then take two of three from St. Louis, but that’s what they did this past week.

23. Indians (25): You’d think the good play of late from the youngsters would actually cover up for other problems, but it actually just makes the problems — like what to do with Travis Hafner — stand out all the more.

24. Royals (24): I so want to believe that the Royals and Mets are going to do a trade where Jeff Francoeur, Ollie Perez, Luis Castillo, Kyle Farnsworth, Jose Guillen and Gil Meche all change teams, but I think it’s just a case of Rosenthal getting into the peppermint schnapps and having fun with all of us.

25. Nationals (23): The Nats should keep Adam Dunn around. He reminds me of Frank Howard and I really like Frank Howard.

26. Astros (26): Ed Wade is treating Roy Oswalt like I treated my 1963 Wally Moon card: valuable to me, but nowhere near as valuable to others for obvious reasons. I never managed to trade that bad boy either.

27. Mariners (27): Don Wakamatsu looks like he’s gonna get canned, don’t he? In hindsight this wasn’t as good a Mariners team as a lot of people thought it would be, but it shouldn’t have been this bad and they can’t go a week or two without some clubhouse problem. Maybe not Wakamatsu’s fault, but like they say, you can’t fire the players.

28. Diamondbacks (28): I’m thinking the Haren trade is only the beginning of the fire sale.

29. Pirates (30): The Pirates are on pace for their worst season since 1985. Back then they at least had the excuse of being coked to the eyes. What gives now?

30. Orioles (29): Getting Matt Wieters, Brian Roberts, Luke Scott and Mike Gonzalez back will be quite helpful in the push to top the 1988 Orioles. Dare to dream.

Ichiro was happy to see Pete Rose get defensive about his hits record

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 14:  Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Miami Marlins warms-up during batting practice before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on June 14, 2016 in San Diego, California.   (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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You’ll recall the little controversy last month when Ichiro Suzuki passed Pete Rose’s hit total. Specifically, when Ichiro’s Japanese and American hit total reached Rose’s American total of 4,256 and a lot of people talked about Ichiro being the new “Hit King.” You’ll also recall that Rose himself got snippy about it, wondering if people would now think of him as “the Hit Queen,” which he took to be disrespect.

There’s a profile of Ichiro over at ESPN the Magazine and reporter Marly Rivera asked Ichiro about that. Ichiro’s comments were interesting and quite insightful about how ego and public perception work in the United States:

I was actually happy to see the Hit King get defensive. I kind of felt I was accepted. I heard that about five years ago Pete Rose did an interview, and he said that he wished that I could break that record. Obviously, this time around it was a different vibe. In the 16 years that I have been here, what I’ve noticed is that in America, when people feel like a person is below them, not just in numbers but in general, they will kind of talk you up. But then when you get up to the same level or maybe even higher, they get in attack mode; they are maybe not as supportive. I kind of felt that this time.

There’s a hell of a lot of truth to that. Whatever professional environment you’re in, you’ll see this play out. If you want to know how you’re doing, look at who your enemies and critics are. If they’re senior to you or better-established in your field, you’re probably doing something right. And they’re probably pretty insecure and maybe even a little afraid of you.

The rest of the article is well worth your time. Ichiro seems like a fascinating, insightful and intelligent dude.

There will be no criminal charges arising out of Curt Schilling’s video game debacle

Curt Schilling
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In 2012 Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, delivered the fantasy role-playing game it had spent millions of dollars and countless man hours trying to deliver. And then the company folded, leaving both its employees and Rhode Island taxpayers, who underwrote much of the company’s operations via $75 million in loans, holding the bag.

The fallout to 38 Studios’ demise was more than what you see in your average business debacle. Rhode Island accused Schilling and his company of acts tantamount to fraud, claiming that it accepted tax dollars while withholding information about the true state of the company’s finances. Former employees, meanwhile, claimed — quite credibly, according to reports of the matter — that they too were lured to Rhode Island believing that their jobs were far more secure than they were. Many found themselves in extreme states of crisis when Schilling abruptly closed the company’s doors. For his part, Schilling has assailed Rhode Island politicians for using him as a scapegoat and a political punching bag in order to distract the public from their own misdeeds. There seems to be truth to everyone’s claims to some degree.

As a result of all of this, there have been several investigations and lawsuits into 38 Studios’ collapse. In 2012 the feds investigated the company and declined to bring charges. There is currently a civil lawsuit afoot and, alongside it, the State of Rhode Island has investigated for four years to see if anyone could be charged with a crime. Today there was an unexpected press conference in which it was revealed that, no, no one associated with 38 Studios will be charged with anything:

An eight-page explanation of the decision concluded by saying that “the quantity and qualify of the evidence of any criminal activity fell short of what would be necessary to prove any allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and as such the Rules of Professional Conduct precluded even offering a criminal charge for grand jury consideration.”

Schilling will likely crow about this on his various social media platforms, claiming it totally vindicates him. But, as he is a close watcher of any and all events related to Hillary Clinton, he no doubt knows that a long investigation resulting in a declination to file charges due to lack of evidence is not the same thing as a vindication. Bad judgment and poor management are still bad things, even if they’re not criminal matters.

Someone let me know if Schilling’s head explodes if and when someone points that out to him.