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Gary Gillette has easily the most menacing column photo in all of ESPN Nation; it looks like he just killed Grizzly Adams with his bare hands. Or, if you listened to Baseball Today last Friday, ripped a Tiger to shreds.
"If it was performance-related," Gillette said about Detroit's explanation for cutting Dmitri Young, "they would have to release half of their lineup."
From Dmitri Young's no-go to Anibal Sanchez's no-no, from the surging Twins to the swooning Tigers, we covered it all last week on Baseball Today, the Fastest 15 Minutes in Baseball. Don't believe us? Here are more highlights, this week's daily schedule and our updated Crystal Ball standings.
Remember, send us your comments about pennant races, MVP races and our race to the top of the iTunes standings, and we'll get the best insights on the air.
Quotes Of The Week
Tuesday, Sept. 5: Jerry Crasnick
On Ryan Howard: "He really lost a good couple of years because of being buried behind (Jim)Thome, and it's unfortunate because we're looking at a guy who if he had come up at age 23 or 24 ... would be a 500 home run guy in a snap."
Wednesday, Sept. 6: Rob Neyer
On the Marlins' so-called "ace": "Dontrelle Willis is the ace in a large sense. He's the veteran relatively. He's the one who has proved he can throw 200 innings in a season. But at a smaller level, in terms of performance, Josh Johnson has pitched better than Willis this season. And Scott Olsen has a significantly better strikeout rate while having the same ERA."
Thursday, Sept. 7: Buster Olney
On Florida GM Larry Beinfest: "That's what you heard from GMs last year after the Marlins got done with their fire sale: They feel like the Marlins did a great job in identifying talent in the players they got back for the likes of Josh Beckett and Carlos Delgado and Paul Lo Duca. And we saw that talent on display last night (watching Anibal Sanchez)."
Friday, Sept. 8: Gary Gillette
On the Twins: "Their rotation behind (Johan) Santana is all smoke and mirrors. They virtually have no margin for error with their rotation. If they somehow pull it off and make the playoffs, they would be one of the greatest miracle stories of all time."
Best Listener Mail
(To contribute a comment for the show, click here.)
"Alan Schwarz is right on when it comes to Ryan Howard -- he's twice the hitter Chase Utley is. M-V-P! But why so little talk of the A's, when they're getting close to the best record in the American League? You guys have the best baseball radio show in town; put it on ESPN Radio!"
--Michael Varet (Texas)
"Should the Yankees call Philip Hughes up pronto? He's been dealing and may have a better arm than anyone on that staff."
--Ira Bednarik (Philadelphia)
"I am a huge Yankee fan and it just dawned on me the reason why Derek Jeter won't win the A.L. Most Valuable Player. It is for the same reason that Kobe Bryant didn't win the NBA Most Valuable Player last year over Steve Nash. People love to hate Jeter and say that he is overrated. Hopefully, he is able to hold off Joe Mauer and win the batting title to shut everybody up."
--Anonymous (Bridgewater, N.J.)
Crystal Ball Standings
When will our analysts learn?
After Ryan Howard torched the Braves for three home runs about 10 days ago, we spent last week demanding that each guest predict whether Howard would go deep that night (or twice in a series). As expected, each said virtually the same thing: "Yeah, he's great and all, but the odds are still against it."
Well, Howard treated those odds as kindly as he did pitchers -- he homered in three out of his four weeknight games (including twice Friday), missing only on Wednesday. Figures that would be the night the statistically-savvy Rob Neyer predicted failure, huh?
With Neyer squeaking out his 1-1 for the week, the idle Jayson Stark moved ever closer to the title with three regular-season weeks remaining (should postseason results count? You tell us.) All three leaders are up this week, so stay tuned ...
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.
3hAndrew Marchand and Wallace Matthews
1dAdam Rubin and Jesse Rogers