Single page view By Jim Caple
Page 2

If you want to hear about steroids, call your local grandstanding congressman (and be sure to ask why he let the NFL off so easily). If you want to read about Barry Bonds' latest lube job, go to his Web site. If you want to read what Curt Schilling thinks about the runaway bride, tune into Boston talk radio.

If, however, you want to read about everything that's going well in baseball, you've come to the right place. With one month of the season finished, here are just a few of the things to cheer:

A team other than the Red Sox or the Yankees is leading the American League East. Led by Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora, the Orioles are in first place and Boog's barbecue pit is heating up. Even better, neither Boston nor New York is even in second place. With Roy Halladay, Josh Towers and Gustavo Chacin (who?) fronting the rotation, the Blue Jays are in second place, two games behind Baltimore.

Despite a payroll so high Halliburton will need to be rehired for their rebuilding project, the Yankees are five games under .500 and 6½ games out of first place. Randy Johnson is aching, Bernie Williams has lost his job, Jason Giambi keeps slumping and Kevin Brown keeps losing. And to add insult to injury, someone stole the shipment of 47,000 caps for a weekend giveaway. Which explains what Rudy Giuliani is doing these days.

While the two New York teams are both in fourth place, the two Los Angeles teams are both in first place. And no, we still haven't gotten used to the Angels' new name, either.

The Cubs may be struggling on the North Side (first Nomar, then Kerry Wood) but even so, Chicago has the best team in baseball. The No-No White Sox are in first place thanks to the best pitching in the American League (a 3.05 ERA with Jon Garland leading the way with two shutouts – as many as Sox starters combined threw last year). The Twins, meanwhile, are in second place, offering the tantalizing possibility that the American League Central could send two teams into the postseason for the first time in division history.

After an absence of 34 years, the national pastime is back in the national capital. The Nationals are averaging approximately 31,000 fans per game and are just 2½ games out of first place. Maybe they won't keep it up – remember, they're just the old Expos – but anything that might keep lobbyists off Capitol Hill is worth cheering.

Roger Clemens is 42 years old and yet he has a higher batting average (.300) than batters do against him (.185). Jamie Moyer is 42 years old and yet is 4-0. Meanwhile, Dontrelle Willis is 23 years old, is 5-0 and he has driven in nearly as many runs (two) as he's allowed (five).

With Bonds out and baseball's drug policy kicking in, both home runs and scoring are down. There have been 42 shutouts, including 10 1-0 games. "It's like 1968," says Astros broadcaster Jim Deshaies, who's seen his team lose three games by 1-0 scores and two by 2-0 scores. "Well, maybe 1974." Heck, after the past decade of inflated scoring, we'll settle for 1993.

The Tigers, barely a year removed from their 119-loss season, are just a game under .500. As are the Brewers, under new ownership. Ichiro continues to hit them where they ain't. Albert Pujols has the Cardinals back on top again. Pedro Martinez is showing that he still has plenty in his tank.

That's the thing about baseball. No matter how loudly the critics condemn the game each winter, baseball always overwhelms with the simple crack of the bat every April.

Box score line of the week
Someone stole the Yankees' shipment of 47,000 giveaway caps and if New York's finest are on the lookout for any imposter wearing the NY logo, they might want to start with Kevin Brown.

Remember when he was supposed to be the pitcher that was going to help the Yankees replace Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and David Wells? Unfortunately for New York, he's 0-4 with a 8.25 ERA this season, has lost his past eight decisions dating back to last season and has won only three games since early last June. He had another terrible outing Tuesday, burying the Yankees in a 6-0 hole in the first inning and allowing as many hits in the game (13) as C.C. Sabathia has in his first three starts. Brown's line:


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