Even with ace Ubaldo Jimenez on the DL, Colorado (with Jhoulys Chacin, right) is off to its best start (12--3) in franchise history and has the NL's fourth-best ERA (3.43). Meanwhile, life's been peachy in K.C., where the Royals were 7--3 at home through Sunday—and where they've smacked all 11 of their HRs.
Real Madrid--Barca Part 2 of 5 ended in a thrilling 1--1 draw after both Messi and Ronaldo scored last Saturday, Rafael Nadal (right) maintained his clay dominance in the Monte Carlo Masters, and Memphis's Marc Gasol dropped 24 on the Spurs in a Game 1 upset.
How's the Damon Era going in Tampa? Save for a sore left ring finger, swell. Last week, the 37-year-old became only the third player since '79 with five straight game-winning RBIs, including twin walk-offs against Minnesota. Said manager Joe Maddon, "That's ridiculous."
Through 14 games, New York topped the majors with a .486 slugging percentage and 27 HRs, including an AL-leading five apiece by Jorge Posada and Mark Teixeira. Altogether, the Bombers boasted more four-HR hitters (seven) than any team ever through 17 games.
Three wins against Toronto last weekend may have quieted cynics, but Boston is still just 5--10, winless on the road and mired in the AL East cellar while "slugging" .384 through two weeks. And in Baltimore the roller-coaster ride continues: The O's have dropped seven straight after a 6--1 start.
And these are just the lowlights: Manu Ginóbili (elbow) sat out Game 1 vs. Memphis; Shaq (calf) skipped the Celtics-Knicks opener; Zdeno Chara was hospitalized for dehydration and missed two Bruins losses; and the Rangers' Josh Hamilton (shoulder) is out till June. Ouch!
TOO MUCH RAIN, MAN
April games up North mean precipitation—and fewer butts in the seats. In at least nine of the first 17 days this month, highs in New York, Boston and Philadelphia have all been below 60°. Meanwhile, six teams have set alltime attendance lows since Opening Day.
Luck of the Northern Irish? Ha. Rory McIlroy lost his clubs flying to the Malaysian Open from Augusta (where he blew a four-shot final round lead). After landing, things got worse: His 36-hole lead evaporated on Sunday; then he bogeyed the final hole to miss a playoff.
SI PLAYERS NBA POLL
WHO DO YOU WANT SHOOTING WITH THE GAME ON THE LINE?
Kobe Bryant, Lakers G 74%
Kevin Durant, Thunder F 8%
Dwyane Wade, Heat G 3%
Ray Allen, Celtics G 2%
Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks F 2%
Based on 166 NBA players who responded to SI's survey
POLL TO THE PEOPLE
Starting this issue, SI will take every player poll to Facebook for a second perspective, from the fans (right). Last week 990 online voters weighed in, and while the masses seconded Bryant as the go-to game-winner, Derrick Rose—who received no votes when SI polled players in the first half of the season—finished a relatively close second. Look for future polls at facebook.com/sportsillustrated.
Facebook fan picks
41% KOBE BRYANT, LAKERS
23% DERRICK ROSE, BULLS
9% KEVIN DURANT, THUNDER
JOHN GRIESHOP/MLB PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES (CHACIN)
JULIAN FINNEY/GETTY IMAGES (NADAL)
KIM KLEMENT/US PRESSWIRE (DAMON)
VINCENT THIAN/AP (MCILROY)
DAMIAN STROHMEYER (ALLEN)