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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Get This Man Some Ice! 

56-101, 507 yards, 3 TD, 3 INT. Lost by three touchdowns. That game must have taken five hours.

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Friday, October 29, 2004

Sept. 10 M's-Sox Pictures 

As promised, here are the pictures we took at the September 10 Mariners game against the World Champion Boston Red Sox (heretofore called WCBRS). Pete, Pete's girlfriend Leah, Leah's dad Andy, and I got seats in the first row behind the visitors' dugout from Leah's grandmother, who is a charter season ticket holder. It wasn't much of a game, but from those seats any game is absolutely awesome. In the last couple of years I've been spoiled, seeing the Angels, White Sox, Twins, and WCBRS from those seats.

WCBRS have been, hands down, the most interesting team to see from that close vantage point. Just about everyone on the WCBRS is a character, and their stars aren't afraid to interact with the fans. For example, during the Hat Trick on the scoreboard, Pedro Martinez was following along, and when the ball trick was finished, held up his fingers to indicate his answer. He got it right, and when I yelled "Alright, Pedro! Way to go, buddy!" Pedro turned around and gave me the Fonzie "Heyyyyyy!" expression. Just hilarious. Pete's got a better Pedro story from the game the night before which I'll allow him to tell.


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Pedro, fresh from his evening nap (in the seventh inning)


Curt Schilling was WCBRS's starter that night, and if you aren't convinced that he's a great pitcher, you should see him from the dugout seats. They'll make a believer out of you.


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Suture Man was kind enough to pose for this picture with me.


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A close-up of my t-shirt that night.


Manny Ramirez hit two homers for WCBRS, and if you aren't convinced that he's a great hitter, you should see him from the dugout seats. They'll make a believer out of you. He hit a grand slam on a 3-0 pitch. Everyone in the stadium except Bob Melvin knew it was going to happen. I even said to our group before the pitch, "This is how grand slams happen."


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Manny Ramirez, taking the leisurely route to home plate following his grand slam.


For some reason, our buddy Daryl has a bit of a man-crush on Doug Mientkiewicz. Daryl is from Minnesota, but that only begins to explain it.


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Pete, moments before biting Doug Mientkiewicz's head clean off.


And now, some pictures for which I really don't have any stories:


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Pete, Leah, and a disinterested bystander.


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What would Johnny Damon do?

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We have a new writer at WWWWS, Joe. Be sure to leave him some feedback on his posts.

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Joe's Free Agency Preview 

I told Chris that I was writing a preview of this Winter's free agents. A couple of weeks later, I'm finally getting around to posting it.

According to the Ken Rosenthal of the Sportingnews.com, the Mariners should have about $29 million to spend this offseason. What hitters should they take a look at? (Pitchers coming soon)

Carlos Delgado-the numbers for this year are skewed by a poor first half (.223/.325/.421); he was back to his normal self (.305/.408/.625)after the All-star break. The good: His home/road splits are virtually identical, indicating he’s not simply a product of the Skydome. His 3-year averages remain fairly consistent as well (.283/.401/.559). Best of all, he has hit well at Safeco (.389/.476/.792 in 19 career games at Safeco). He’s also generally regarded as a great guy to have in the clubhouse, which Seattle values highly.
The bad: he missed 34 games last year, so there’s a higher potential for injury in the future. He’s no gold glover defensively, though he is better than people give him credit for. Finally, he made $19 million last year, and there’s no chance that any team will throw that kind of cash in front of him again.
The skinny: Toronto has already said it will not resign Delgado, so if the Mariners can get a good deal for him (say, 3 years at $12 million per), he should be their top priority. He’s a power bat from the left side who could really thrive in laid-back Seattle. Expect the Orioles to make a push as well.

Carlos Beltran- His numbers (.267/.367/.548) were split between Kansas City and Houston last year.
The good: perhaps the best all-around centerfielder in baseball, Beltran is the total package as a great hitter, excellent defender, and missed only 3 games last year. And he is still just 27, so he figures to get even better. His numbers at Safeco are good (.309/.390/.500 in 18 career games), and he certainly didn’t hurt his value this postseason for the Astros (8 HR, 1.557 OPS).
The bad: Beltran has drawn interest from the Yankees and the Red Sox, which will drive his contract price up considerably. In addition, his numbers compare the closest to Bernie Williams, a fine centerfielder but not worth the $20 million that Beltran will probably get.
The skinny: the Yankees are already starting to send Mickey Mantle comparisons to his agent, Scott Boras. It appears unlikely that Seattle has a chance to get him. In a perfect world, however, he would be at the top of the Mariner’s wish list.

Andruw Jones- His numbers last year were .261/.345/.488. He is not actually a free agent, but the Braves have indicated that they might be willing to trade him.
The good: Jones is on the short list (with Mike Cameron and Torii Hunter) of the best defensive centerfielders in baseball, something very important in spacious Safeco field. He has only 3 games at Safeco, but his home/road splits are good (.851 career OPS on the road, vs. .819 at home). And, believe it or not, he is only one day older than Beltran.
The bad: he has little experience in A.L. parks. His numbers are consistent, but there is the perception that he has peaked as a player. He also has a reputation as somewhat of a head case. Finally, a trade for him would not come cheap; Seattle would likely have to be willing to part with Jeremy Reed or even (gulp!) Felix Hernandez before any negotiation would take place.
The skinny: Seattle’s chances of getting him are not great, but if they catch Atlanta during a period of payroll reduction (see: Kevin Millwood for Johnny Estrada), they might get a great deal for him.

Edgar Renteria-Hit .287/.327/.401 this past year, and is among the favorites for the NL gold glove at shortstop.
The good: Spectacular defensively; Range factor of 4.41 higher than in his gold glove years. His hitting performance from last year was slightly down, but his 3-year averages (.307/.362/.802) are among the best for NL shortstops. He’s missed only 27 games the past 3 years. Has also come through in the clutch in the past (1997 World Series game-winner).
The bad: He has benefited from being in some outstanding lineups during his career, so his hitting numbers may be slightly inflated. He is also considered the best shortstop on the market, with the Red Sox and Cubs (in addition to St. Louis) likely to go after him. He might be too overpriced. The Mariners are also loaded with good shortstops in their minor leagues; in addition to Jose Lopez, there is Adam Jones, Matt Tuiasosopo, and Michael Morse listed among their top prospects.
The skinny: he’d be an excellent addition, but look for the Mariners to try to fill this position from within the organization at a cheaper price. St. Louis will probably get him back, unless he gets an overwhelming offer.
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Adrian Beltre-The numbers speak for themselves: .334/.388/.629, and led the majors in home runs, all while playing his home games in the pitcher’s haven known as Dodger Stadium.
The good: Amazing offensive season last year. At 24, he finally had the breakout offensive season everyone was expecting from him the past few years. Hitting in a pitcher’s park would make the transition to Safeco a lot easier as well. He is also excellent defensively, and might be considered for the NL gold glove at third base if it wasn’t for Scott Rolen.
The bad: last year was great, but it was also far and away his best offensive year (OPS for 2003: a mere .714). This could be due to maturation, but it could also be the result of playing for a new multiyear contract. His plate discipline is also not spectacular (53 walks in 651 plate appearances), and he has virtually no experience hitting in Safeco.
The skinny: He certainly enhanced his value over the past year, but expect his re-signing to be the top priority for the Dodgers in this offseason.

Alfonso Soriano-his numbers took a slight dive last year (.280/.324/.484), but are actually right in line with his 3-year averages. He’s eligible for arbitration next year, but the Rangers will likely make him available.
The good: his offensive production is outstanding for a second baseman. Picture Ichiro swinging for the fences. He has power (averaged 35 HRs the past 3 years), speed (18 steals last year, 35 the year before), and at 28, still has considerable upside. He also has some postseason heroics (too painful to mention) and is a fairly low risk for injury. His numbers at Safeco are right in line with his career numbers.
The bad: the biggest knock on him has been plate discipline; he actually has more homers (126) than walks (124) for his career. Also, his future is in the outfield, since his defense at second base is horrendous. His numbers took a dive last year, despite moving to the Ballpark in Arlington (or whatever it’s called) from the more pitcher-friendly Yankee Stadium.
The Skinny: he has a lot of trade value for the Rangers, so expect them to auction him off to the highest bidder this offseason. The Mariners have plenty of young pitching to deal for him, but bet on the Mets overpaying for his services.

Mike Lowell-his numbers keep improving (.293/.365/.505). Solid defensive Third baseman. Free agent only if Florida fails to get a new stadium deal.
The Good: former Yankee farmhand has gotten better each year both offensively and defensively, and at 30, should be entering his prime. Has shown he can overcome adversity as well (recovering cancer patient).
The bad: he missed Florida’s World Series run in 2003 after breaking his hand in the last month, but seems fully recovered. Even if the Fish don’t get a new stadium deal, he might not want to leave his home state. At 30, he is unlikely to improve too much more.
The skinny: the third base market is loaded this year, which might actually keep his price down. He’d be an excellent alternative to Beltre, but expect him to stay in Florida.

Magglio Ordonez-Yet another big contract coming off the books this offseason, Ordonez missed most of the year with a couple of different injuries.
The Good: he’s one of the best hitting right fielders out there. Before last year, his two-year OPS was .952, and in 2003 he just barely missed out on a fifth straight .300/30/100 season. And before last year, his durability had never been a concern, playing 150+ games each year since 1999. Defensively, he’s merely average, but has a respected arm (11 OF assists in 2001).
The Bad: Last year’s injuries raise a red flag. He’s also been helped out by a fairly good White Sox lineup the past several years. In addition, he made $14 million last year, and while he won’t get that this year, several teams (the Mets, for one) figure to be in the running for him.
The skinny: he’s a poor man’s Vladimir Guerrero. He’d be a good player to sign except for one thing: he plays the same position as Ichiro, who isn’t going anywhere. Still, he’d be a solid signing at the right price and with a switch to left field.

Troy Glaus-Your basic slugging third baseman, he is unlikely to resign with Anaheim for next year. Can also play first base. At either position, he’d be better than whoever Seattle dragged out there last year.
The good: has 182 homers in 827 games, or one every 4.5 games. Still only 28. Signing him would also hurt division rival Anaheim.
The bad: has missed 175 games the past 2 years, and 47 of those homers came in his rookie year. Not spectacular defensively. He was one of baseball’s most overpaid players last year ($10.45 million).
The skinny: Seattle should not break the bank for this guy. I would hesitate on even giving out a multiyear contract to him. Call it the Scott Spiezio effect.

JD Drew-enjoyed the biggest breakout year this side of Adrian Beltre (.305/.436/.570) after coming to Atlanta in an offseason trade with St. Louis.
The Good-he’s always been considered a five-tool player with excellent outfield defense. In addition to his power, he has excellent plate discipline (118 walks). He turns 29 in November, so his best years should come soon.
The bad: he’s been an injury risk virtually every year in the pros. Also, there’s the contract year effect. He also played right field last year, but has played all three outfield positions in the past.
The skinny: interesting case. If he stays healthy, he could be a bargain. But if I were running the Braves, I’d let him go and extend Andruw Jones’ contract.

Nomar Garciaparra-Split last year between Boston and Chicago, going .297/.364/.455 with the Cubs.
The Good: one of the best hitting shortstops out there, his career numbers (.322/.370/.549, with 182 homers) are as good as they get at the position now that A-Rod is a third basemen. He’s 31, meaning he should have at least 4 more productive hitting years ahead of him.
The bad: he played in only 81 games last year due to various injuries, and always seems to be hurting in some small way (though surprisingly he missed only 12 games combined the previous two years). His hitting numbers have gone down steadily the past 3 years, during which he hasn’t hit his career averages. His plate discipline isn’t great, either (80 walks in 2002-03 combined). Defensively, he is a liability, though he might look pretty good as a third baseman (a la A-rod) or at second.
The skinny: Memo to Seattle: not worth it. He’s too fragile, declining offense, and average, at best, defensively. Let Anaheim overpay for him, and go after Renteria if you want to upgrade short.

Richie Sexson-He missed virtually all of last year with a left (non-throwing) shoulder injury that required surgery, but had a .914 OPS before he went down.
The Good: before last year, his numbers were steadily improving year-to-year. His 2001-03 numbers include an .894 OPS with 119 homers and 351 RBIs. As a fielder, he’s no slouch (.993 career percentage). He also happens to be from the Northwest (born in Portland, raised in the Seattle area).
The bad: obviously, there’s an injury risk, though not quite as much as people might think (it was his non-throwing shoulder). He did put up great numbers in the past… in Miller Park, an excellent hitter’s park, though with a generally horrible lineup around him.
The skinny: even with his injury, he should be in pretty high demand, but should also be available at a fairly reasonable price. But remember: sometimes going home to play can backfire on the player (see: Cirillo, Jeff).

Jason Varitek-One of many free agents for the Red Sox this offseason, his numbers (.296/.390/.482) are excellent production for a catcher. He is one-half of the worst trade in Mariner history (thank you, Heithcliff Slocumb).
The good: he’s a catcher who can hit. Last year was a career year, but his career .798 OPS is very solid. He’s also excellent defensively, posting a .998 fielding percentage last year with only two errors and five passed balls. As far as catchers go, he’s relatively low-risk as far as injuries go.
The bad: the biggest negative is that he’s 32, which is the age when most catchers start breaking down. He’s put up great numbers in a great Boston lineup, but his numbers at Safeco are horrible (.686 OPS in 22 games).
The skinny: He’s the heart and soul of that Red Sox team. Don’t expect him to be going anywhere. The Mariners should give Miguel Olivo a chance and not worry about upgrading catcher too much.
*numbers off of Yahoo! Sports

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There Is Justice in This Topsy-Turvy World 

Michigan and Ohio State made the right decision. If you haven't been following this story, SBC Communications put money on the table for the naming rights to the Michigan-OSU game every year, proposing that it be called the tongue-tying "SBC Communications Michigan-Ohio State Classic." With anything and everything that can be bought being sold nowadays, this is the most refreshing news I've read in a while. Yay Big 10 (11)!

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Nooooooooooooooooo! 

Steve Stone quit! Oh, woe is me! Stone was probably the best color-man I've ever listenned to, and he was one of the most enjoyable parts of watching the Cubs. God damn it, this season sucked.

There's a tragic lack of smart-assedness in sports broadcasting, but Steve Stone provided enough all by himself to make up for all the earnest, lump-headed ex-jocks calling games accross the country. I'm going to miss that crazy bastard. Whoever replaces him (I'm looking at you, Mark Grace!) will feel the sharp end of many a snide comment.

Oh, and apparently we're trading Sammy for Cliff Floyd.

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Thursday, October 28, 2004

New Title Winner 

Congratulations to my buddy Joe! "At Least The Red Sox Have 1918" has been hereby re-named "Who Wants To Watch The World Series?"

The Sox winning it all has pretty much changed my whole world-view, as far as baseball is concerned. Anyone else feel the same way? Comments are welcome below.

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Thursday, October 21, 2004

Offseason Preaparation is The Key To Success in Baseball and in Life 

From the Las Vegas Review Journal, (link courtesy of The Intern):
Sightings

Kid Rock, throwing a bowling party in the Hard Rock Hotel high-roller suite after his concert Friday night. Attendees included his band, his opening band White Starr and members of his entourage, including Bret Boone of the Seattle Mariners.

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photo proudly stolen from Nice Guys Finish Third. Thanks, Paul!

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Back From the Dead! 

Well, that was just what I needed to get me interested in baseball again. The way the Cubs totally collapsed the last week of the regular season left such a terrible taste in my mouth, I didn't even want to watch any of the postseason games at first. I assumed we'd have a Yankees-Cards world series, and I didn't want anything to do with that. I assumed baseball had nothing to offer me until free agents started getting haggled over.

Man, it's good to be wrong! That was the most incredible series I've ever seen! All that was missing was a game-seven comeback--but hey, I can live without it. Maybe this way was better anyway. Seeing the Yankees seething in the dugout the whole game, knowing they were getting humiliated, was really precious. A-Rod's furious, red-eyed baby-frown as he watched the Sox celebrate--you just can't top that!

Now we've got the possibility of a Texas vs Massachussets series, which would be awesome. Dammit, it's time for the Red Sox and the New England Liberals to break the curse! You can do it guys! We believe!

On an unrelated note, how much do you think Stieinbrenner's going to pay Beltran now? I'm guessing he gets Manny-like money, because of his absurd postseason and the fact that the Yanks will be bid up by the Cubs. He's a great player, but if he gets five million more than Magglio does, that's just insanity.

I hope you do have to change the name of the website.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Wow! 

Down 3-0, coming back. That was a Miracle On Ice-level upset. And like the Miracle, in a couple decades there are going to be a lot of casual fans that won't realize that the Red Sox didn't win the championship with their upset. The Sox still have to beat Finland in the World Series.

I might have to change the name of my web site in a week or so. I hope I do. If you have any re-naming suggestions, please leave a comment below.

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A Mike Hargrove Endorsement 

Finny is reporting, with a Mariners brass' hand in his puppet-hole, that Mike Hargrove and Grady Little are among the finalists for the thankfully vacated Mariners' manager position. I personally endorse Hargrove over Little. Is there a better fit for Seattle than "The Human Rain Delay"?

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#80 Is Off Limits 

I just saw the Rice press conference on Sportscenter. You know they type, where the high-profile new player holds up his new squad's jersey with his freshly-hemmed name stitched on back. I wondered about this when I first heard they got Rice, and now I know: evidently, Steve Largent is dead to the Seahawks, because they're giving Rice #80. Before I even knew the offsides rule, I had one of those old Seahawks t-shirt jerseys with #80 on back, and it wasn't in anticipation of a player who would join the team twenty years later. Does this bug anyone besides me?

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Rice To 'Hawks! 

So...

The 'Hawks have been contenders exactly once in my memory, and they just made a deadline deal to improve the team at a position that greatly needs the help. The Mariners, on the other hand, have fai...

I can't go on. This makes me very happy on one hand, but makes me want to puke all over the other.

It's been an arduous journey as a Mariner fan, full of false hopes and failed expectations. Seeing the 'Hawks consistently drafting well and signing quality free agents is of course a blessing, but the direct contrast to the Mariners is hard for any die-hard Northwest baseball fan to stomach.

Go 'Hawks.

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Monday, October 18, 2004

"You Can Get To Us... 

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"...but now you know we can get to you."

--The Usual Suspects, 1995

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Friday, October 08, 2004

A Sports Guy Rip On Angels Fans That Could Just As Easily Be About 90 Percent Of Mariner Fans 

From today's article (regarding the Anaheim fans' reaction to the Red Sox taking the lead against the Angels' star relief pitcher, Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez):
Did they just score on K-Rod? What do we do now? Could the scoreboard tell us what to do, please?
Why do many of us M's fans hate the Angels and their fans so much? Because they remind us of our lame selves.

Hold on. Be right back. I think someone is trying to start a wave.


Edit, 1:24 PM:

Another gem about lame, bandwaggoning Anaheim (or just as easily, Seattle) fans:
The classic Anaheim fan story: My buddy Hench and I were walking into the game and doing the "Let's go Sox!" routine every time we walked by someone wearing a Sox hat or jersey. I mentioned how there were a surprising number of Sox fans walking around, followed by Hench joking that the number of Angels fans at Friday's game at Fenway would be either zero or zero. So some Stepford fan turns around and sneers, "You gotta get there first!"

Um ... what?

"You gotta get there first!"

Apparently the chip in his skull was malfunctioning.

"We're up 1-0 in a five-game series," Hench said. "I'm pretty sure we're making it to Game 3."

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Thursday, October 07, 2004

2004 Season Review -- The Positives 

It was a rough season in 2004 for the Mariners faithful. Awful personnel decisions, questionable game management philosophies, and a sudden and precipitous drop in veteran players' performances turned 2003's 93-win squad into the 99-loss debacle to which we all bore witness in '04. Regardless of which moves can be justly criticized and for which ones "Goat Boy" Bavasi deserves the benefit of the doubt, it is undeniable that, with few notable exceptions, the front office dropped the ball.

Despite Bavasi's best efforts, however, the 2004 Mariners remained oddly watchable for the last two months of the season. Ichiro, indeed, deserves much of the credit. But a few other bright spots are worthy of mention as well.

Bucky!

There weren't a lot of compelling reasons to make the drive over to Safeco Field to take in a ball game this year before July 16. That's the day the M's decided to see if a slugging minor league journeyman named Bucky Jacobsen could hack it in the big leagues, and hack he did. With three homers in his first six games as a Mariner, "Bucky Fever" spread like the latest flu strain through the Northwest. Due the league minimum salary in 2005, it's a good bet that Bucky gets the nod as Edgar's replacement at designated hitter next year, freeing the Mariners esteemed front office some much needed cash.

Bobby Madritsch

Anytime a player reaches the big leagues after toiling in the independent Northern League, I must admit I'm always curious to see how he fares. When Bobby Madritsch first arrived as a Mariner on July 21, 2004, he had to start in the bullpen like any other rookie. Bobby posted a solid 3.00 earned run average out of the pen in four appearances, but it was "Kazuhiro Sasaki in 2002" solid. Madritsch allowed at least one baserunner in seven of his nine relief innings and looked a bit overwhelmed at times. In the topsy-turvy world of the 2004 Seattle Mariners, this was good enough for a promotion to the starting rotation, where Bobby was better than any of us could possibly imagine. Madritsch immediately took on the demeanor of a polished veteran, not a green rookie with just nine innings of experience. I just hope that the recently departed Bob Melvin didn't kill Madritsch's arm in the process.

Spoilers

It would have been easy for the Mariners to just phone it in in September and October, but with new life brought on by the September callups and Ichiro's record chase, the Mariner played well down the stretch, winning seven of their last twelve games against A.L. West contenders Anaheim, Texas, and Oakland.

Jeremy Reed

.397/.470/.466 as a Mariner over 18 games. Small sample size, indeed, but Wow! Freddy who?

And, finally:

Ichiro

Ichiro had the most unbelievably ridiculous second half that I've ever even heard of. From July 1 on, the little guy did nothing short of hitting .423! over a 371 AB span. He had four five-hit games and five four-hit games. Those nine games alone gave Ichiro just four fewer hits than Bucky Jacobsen had all year. In addition to all the hits, a MLB record 262 in all, Ichiro finished second in the AL with a .414 on-base percentage and led the Mariners with a .869 OPS. There is simply no way to look at the facts and say that Ichiro wasn't better than he was in his MVP 2001 season. The only drawback is that when he hits .345 next year, we'll all be disappointed.

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SA and CSPAN leaders have been finalized for the 2004 season on the left sidebar. In case anyone is curious, Adam Dunn's impressive SA total of 212 ties Jim Presley in 1986 for ninth-"best" all time. Congratulations, Adam!

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