Goodbye, New York. An off-season trade, some Yankee-dissing (On Bobby Abreu:"He ain't me"), and now he's helping Detroit distance itself from thelikes of the Yanks. Since May 2, Sheff's hitting .349 and his career numbersare getting Cooperstown-worthy: Homer 475 came last week.
Cruisin'. What happens when you have a QB (San Jose's Mark Grieb, right) thrownine TD passes? You win your 11th straight game and go to the AFL's AmericanConference championship.
Hunter's not acting his age. The Astros' 24-year-old centerfielder (page 57)could become the first NL rookie to win a batting title. He was at .342, andHouston fans were hanging HUNTER: FEED THE MASSES signs at the park. Astros CEODrayton McLane: "You build franchises with players like him."
At last, the full Monty. He'd gone winless for 19 months before some back-nineputting and a bit of long grass that saved a ball from the water snagged himthe European Open. Said Montgomerie, 44, who just changed caddies, "I feelthere is a new career in me."
Goodbye, Chicago? While Chisox rotation-mate Mark Buehrle got a new deal,Contreras remains trade bait—assuming anyone wants him. At 5--10 his velocityis down, his control is off ("I never wanted it to be like this," hesaid), and this may not be a fleeting dip. He's 9-19 since last year's All-Starbreak.
Upset! Dallas's 15--1 regular season (the AFL's best ever) meant zip when twoweird bounces (off the field goal uprights) led to a playoff loss to Columbus,which came in—ready?—at 7--9.
Curt may be showing his age. The 40-year-old Red Sox righty's near no-hitterseems eons, not five weeks, ago. He's been out since June 19 with shouldertendinitis, his return date is vague—and he's been neglecting his beloved blog.Schilling to the Boston Herald: "The progress isn't where I want it tobe."
It seemed elementary: Watson, 57, was up by three strokes and headed to hisfirst win at the U.S. Senior Open. Then he played the last eight holes at eightover par—"I lost the reins," he said—and wound up fourth, a collapsethat cost him nearly $350,000.
SI PLAYERS MLB POLL
Who is the most exciting player in baseball?
Jose Reyes, Mets SS 42%
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners OF 11% ¬ª
Albert Pujols, Cardinals IB 5%
Carl Crawford, Devil Rays LF 4%
Barry Bonds, Giants LF 4%
FAST FACTS: Players could not vote for a teammate....At the All-Star break, Reyes led the majors with 46 stolen bases, and Ichirowas batting .359.... Of the top 10 vote-getters only Phillies first basemanRyan Howard (10th, 2.7%) did not make the All-Star Game.... Twins ace JohanSantana was the only pitcher among the 26 players who drew multiple votes; hegot two.... The Red Sox' David Ortiz was the only DH who got even a singlevote.
[Based on a survey of 464 MLB players]
For an expanded version of the poll, go to SI.com/players.
JOHN BIEVER (SHEFFIELD)
RICHARD SCHULTZ/WIREIMAGE.COM (CONTRERAS)
ALAN HWANG/BEIMAGES (GRIEB)
BOB LEVEY/WIREIMAGE.COM (PENCE)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (SCHILLING)
HEINZ KLUETMEIER (REYES)
ERICK W. RASCO (SUZUKI)