by Jordan Adams - 05/15/2006
Barry Bonds' chase of 714 has consumed baseball and reached a point where it is flat out irritating to watch his coverage. You could not escape the madness if you tried. He is the first thought opening ESPN's Sportscenter and Baseball Tonight, as well as the last remark of the shows. From broadcasting every single one of Bonds' at-bats live for the past week, the media is basically saying he is the only important topic in baseball. Frankly, that is not the case.
Bonds' home run obsession has overshadowed one of the best starts to a season that a single player has ever had. Forget the fact that most people label St. Louis' Albert Pujols the game's best player. Not only has he become the fastest player ever to 19 home runs, but he also is on pace for one of the best statistical seasons ever. Considering the players the MLB has witnessed in the past, that could be some statement. Through 37 team games, the Cardinals' first baseman is batting .333 with 19 home runs and 48 RBIs.
NL Team of the Week
San Diego Padres
After sharing co-honors last week with the Philadelphia Phillies, the San Diego Padres continued their impressive play into the second week of May. Their play over the past two weeks has led them to the top of the NL West, sitting one game ahead of the Colorado Rockies.
Winners of six of their seven games this week, San Diego improved their overall '06 record to 22-16. The Padres beat up on two of the NL Central's lesser teams. After finishing up their four-game series with the Cubs on Monday with a victory, San Diego welcomed the Milwaukee Brewers into Petco Park. Milwaukee took the first game, 5-4, in a battle of the bullpens, but the final two games were both won by Padres starting pitchers. Chan Ho Park and Jake Peavy earned their second and third wins of the season, respectively.
San Diego's weekend three-game set took them to the north side of Chicago to play the lowly Cubs. After having owned the Cubs the previous week, Wrigley Field witnessed their beloved Cubbies being swept and outscored 23-8 in total.
AL Team of the Week
The Tigers have been the pleasant surprise in the AL, but their impressive record would not be what it is until they caught the Chicago White Sox in the standings. Coming into the week Detroit trailed Chicago by 3.5 games. After defeating Cleveland on Sunday and prior to the Chicago's Sunday night game versus the Twins, the two AL Central clubs were even in the division standings.
The Tigers took advantage of Chicago's weekly struggle by winning four of their five games to make up the ground. After losing the first game of the week to Baltimore, Detroit went on to win its next four, not including a rain out game this past Thursday.
Starting pitching continued to carry the Tigers as starters registered all four victories. Dual closers Todd Jones and Fernando Rodney each scored saves to close their wins.
NL Player of the Week
Albert Pujols | 1B | St. Louis Cardinals
The game's best player continues to prove it every week. This six-game span was no different as he continues to thoroughly impress. Pujols led the Cardinals attack with three long balls and ten RBI. His bat continues to produce numbers that no one can match. Pujols also added two doubles, scored eight times and hit 9/21 on the week.
AL Player of the Week
Justin Morneau | 1B | Minnesota Twins
After letting go of David Ortiz, many critisized the Twins' organization and wondered if a player of his caliber would ever fill that offensive void. Well Justin Morneau isn't Big Papi yet, but how could you be disappointed by his play?
Morneau's offensive power has been one shining star in the midst of an awful season by his team. This week, Justin hit three balls over the fences while driving in ten coming in to his Sunday night game. Although the Twins' first baseman has not been hitting much for average, he posted a 9/20 mark throughout his games this week. A double, four runs, and managing only one strikeout to his name helped his player of the week honors.
Upcoming Weekend Series to Watch
New York Yankees @ New York Mets | May 19-21
Probable Pitching Match-ups
Friday - Randy Johnson vs. Brian Bannister
Saturday - Mike Mussina vs. Pedro Martinez
Sunday - Shawn Chacon vs. Tom Glavine
Interleague play gets underway for the first time this upcoming weekend. While there are many notable match-ups, they all are second to the Yankees and Mets. Being played in Queens, this series will be highly anticipated. Because of the Mets' off-season additions, they are one of the top contenders for the World Series and perhaps on a pedestal ahead of their counterparts in the Bronx.
Tough to say if the bats or the arms will be the overriding factor in this three-game set. Both the Yankees and Mets have top three offenses in their respective leagues, but the pitching match-ups could prove differently.
Randy Johnson, as good as he can be, looks aged and without a clue. That, along with the Mets' top two arms in Pedro and Glavine scheduled to pitch, could be just what the Mets need to capture a home series win.
Records aside, the Mets have been the better team this year. The Yankees' starting rotation has been very good at times, but then unreliable on other occasions. Conversely, the Mets have received great starting pitching top to bottom and a steady bullpen will only continue to boost the confidence of their starting hurlers.
Mets win 2-1
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