I tried to think of an opening theme this week, but since I used one of my talking points on a much larger piece, I decided I'd just talk about Brett Favre.
In all seriousness, Ryan Garko wasn't the only player benched for lack of hustle this past week. Strangely enough, it was in the same series that B.J. Upton got benched for not running out a groundball to pitcher Edwin Mujica.
Joe Maddon and Eric Wedge probably sounded like clones talk about the lack of hustle. However, Wedge was a little more mum, considering his biggest pet peeve is not hustling or showing effort.
Either way, I love the managers that demand hustle 24/7. A great example of hustle is Kelly Shoppach, who takes the liberty to run all-out to first base on a walk. Now that is what I call hustle.
I'm a hustle kind of guy, considering I'm one who always had to make up for lack of talent. Sure, it was on the soccer field, and as I got older, I got better. But you can't get results if you don't want to put forth the maximum effort, even if you have all the talent in the world.
With that, let's get into what's making me really hustle around the world of Major League Baseball.
What's Making Me Rally
You could almost say that, given his past two performances, Ryan Garko's benching has sort of made him turn his season around.
That's exactly what the little tussle between Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Manny Parra and slugger Prince Fielder did.
Not to say they were out of the race, but the Brewers needed a spark, as the Cubs started to run away with the division. In a loss on Monday, Prince Fielder shoved the young pitcher in the dugout.
Cooler heads prevailed, everyone kissed and made up, and Ned Yost said it was no big deal to begin with.
I'd like to argue against that.
Not only have the Brewers reeled off five straight since the incident, but Manny Parra went out and threw seven solid innings for the Brew Crew in their victory on Sunday, ensuring them of yet another series win.
You just never know anymore what will turn a team around. Sometimes it's adversity, or a fight between teammates. While other times it's as simple as someone bucking a trend and everyone else gaining confidence.
Either way, great to see the Brewers jump right back in the hunt and turn something that could have been a negative into a real positive.
What's Making Me Hang My Head in Shame
Along those same lines, maybe a total meltdown at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays was just what the Cleveland Indians needed.
Since the colossal explosion on Wednesday, Cleveland swept Toronto and that disastrous bullpen has given up just one run.
Still, that is not the reason I brought up that horrendous game for the Indians. Now that I've had a few days to digest the meltdown and see the Indians come back and sweep another team, I realized what is going on in Tampa.
I've been counting the Rays out of the game. Not that I like the Yankees chances or anything down the stretch, I saw just one team coming out of the East at the All-Star break, and I still kind of do.
But, if one thing is for sure, the Rays will not go quietly. They will fight tooth and nail to make it to the playoffs this year. I thought the Central would be represented twice, but there is no telling how well the Tigers will play and if the Indians can continue a turnaround.
Sure, the AL East teams will beat up on each other, but the Rays are equipped with pitching to hang around.
I still am leery about putting them in the postseason, just for fear of how well they will handle the September pressure, but I'm slowly turning that corner.
What's Making it Painful for Me
All these injuries to pitchers are just disastrous for teams in contention. You have Joba Chamberlain getting a scare with the shoulder injury, not good for a pitcher when you visit Dr. James Andrews. The Yankees' rotation isn't getting help from Ian Kennedy, who's pitching badly and getting sent down.
Jose Contreras made his return, only to be greeted by a ruptured Achilles tendon. Can Mark Shapiro get on the phone with one of these teams? Paul Byrd is sitting around waiting.
Then you've got essentially what was the Cardinals' version of a deadline addition in Chris Carpenter.
It makes it interesting to see guys like Carpenter, Francisco Liriano, and Josh Johnson coming back at this point in time. It's an addition that teams don't have to give up anything for. Carpenter, Liriano, and Johnson are all proven starters who've had at least one good season.
Now though, Sunday night, the Cardinals lost Carpenter as quickly as they got him back. No word on the extent of the injury, but Carpenter left the Cardinals' Sunday night game against the Cubs in the sixth inning.
Hopefully Liriano and Johnson work out better for their teams and neither gets bitten by the injury bug. The Cardinals just don't seem to have any luck lately with their star pitchers.
What I Am Randomly Thinking About
So, the Seattle Mariners are trying to convert Brandon Morrow to a starter, a la the aforementioned Joba Chamberlain? That's great for them, and I hope it works out. I question moving these guys around like they do.
Seattle has plenty of time, so let's hope they take all of it to make the switch. I think the Yankees might have rushed Chamberlain back into the starters roll.
I'm not sure what I think about moving a dominant set-up man like Morrow into the rotation. I guess if you need the help there. The question is, with all the problems the Mariners are having, why wasn't Morrow there in the first place? Is Carlos Silva really that important to you?
There are waiver moves getting done, so there is hope for Paul Byrd yet. The Royals traded Horacio Ramriez to the White Sox, probably as a response to the Contreras injury. The bigger move was Livan Hernandez going to the Rockies.
Huston Street was claimed by an un-known contending team, but nothing got done. Some say the Indians might have been that team, and I can only pound my fist in anger.
Brian Giles vetoed a trade to the Red Sox. I don't blame him, but then again, why not have a shot at the World Series and return to San Diego next year? Jody Gerut could use more playing time after he went deep like, four times this week.
Oliver Perez is undefeated against teams with a record above .500 at the time he faced them. Six wins and not a single loss is pretty good if I do say so myself. That is some big-game pitching there.
Need to keep an eye on the Marlins and Cubs series this coming weekend. Zambrano, Dempster, and possibly Harden going for the Cubs, while the Marlins send out Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez.
With the Mets facing Pittsburgh and the Phillies taking on the Padres, the Marlins need to keep up. Milwaukee doesn't have an easy task with the Dodgers, but St. Louis faces Cincinnati. It’s a crucial series for both the Cubbies and the Fish.
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