After pulling the plug on the John Smoltz experiment, the Red Sox turned to another ageless arm: Paul Byrd, last seen pitching to his 13-year-old son's team. The soft tosser threw six scoreless innings on Sunday to beat the Blue Jays in his first big league start in 11 months. "I'm just so excited to be back," Byrd said.
After a messy divorce from the Broncos, new Chicago QB Jay Cutler returned to Denver and led the Bears to a 27--17 win. Cutler threw for 144 yards in two quarters and didn't let the nasty crowd get to him. "He was calm and kept everyone else calm," said RB Matt Forte.
In his first start last week Zack Greinke set a K.C. strikeout record (15) against the Indians. He followed it up with a one-hit shutout of the Mariners to lower his AL-best ERA to 2.32. "He definitely proved why he's in contention for the Cy Young," said the M's Mike Sweeney.
Self-styled genius Tony La Russa lived up to the billing, leading the Cards on a 7--1 jag. He even won a game without his longtime pitching coach--sidekick, Dave Duncan, who took a personal day. "It was very strange," said La Russa. "I don't know if he's ever missed a game before."
Scott Boras's Angel Stadium suite was invaded by apian pests during Sunday's game. It wasn't as bad as a July infestation that caused a 52-minute delay at a Padres game or an August invasion that forced a section of Dodger Stadium to be cleared, but workers needed a vacuum to get rid of the bees.
Another week, another Ozzie Guillen meltdown. After a Saturday loss to the Yankees in which his fading Sox had more errors (three) than hits (one), manager Guillen seethed: "If they don't feel the way I feel right now, they're full of s---." Alas, the next day they lost again, 8--3.
After two ho-hum preseason games, K.C.'s new QB, Matt Cassel, lasted just three plays in his third before limping off with a strained knee ligament. When he returns (he could be out four weeks), he'll have a new boss: Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was abruptly fired on Monday.
First Red Sox G.M. Theo Epstein pointed out that outspoken closer Jonathan Papelbon (page 43) is "not a Rhodes scholar." Then Vikings DE Jared Allen addressed talk of a locker room schism: "I don't think anyone on this team knows what schism is.?.?.?. I thought it was an STD."
SI PLAYERS MLB POLL
WHICH BALLPARK DO YOU MOST LIKE TO PLAY IN?
Fenway Park, Red Sox 16.6%
Wrigley Field, Cubs 12.6%
Yankee Stadium 11.4%
PETCO Park, Padres 8.2%
Safeco Field, Mariners 6.7%
Players were not allowed to vote for their home field.... The old Yankee Stadium, which was replaced in 2009 after 85 years as the Bronx Bombers' home, got 1.4% of the vote.... The two Los Angeles fields finished sixth (Angel Stadium, 5.7%) and seventh (Dodger Stadium, 4.2%).... Twenty-nine of the 30 current parks received at least one vote; only the Twins' home, the Metrodome, was shut out.
Based on a survey of 380 MLB players
ADAM HUNGER/REUTERS (BYRD)
RON CHENOY/US PRESSWIRE (CUTLER)
JOHN RIEGER/US PRESSWIRE (CASSEL)
AL TIELEMANS (LA RUSSA)
DAVID E. KLUTHO (WRIGLEY)
DAMIAN STROHMEYER (FENWAY)