Chicago picnic: Tough slider with punch

May 23, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

When Michael Barrett retires from baseball, he might want to take a shot at jumping inside the ring and becoming a boxer.

Did you see that right hand he landed on A.J. Pierzynski on Saturday?

In case you missed it, this past weekend was the first round of interleague games in Major League Baseball and the White Sox and Cubs got together for their Windy City three-game series.

The highlight of the weekend was Saturday's punch-em-out affair, brought about when Pierzynski slammed into Barrett on a play at home plate.

After slapping his hand on home plate, Pierzynski got up to (he says) get his batting helmet and Barrett quickly stopped Pierzynski, throwing a right-hand punch that would make Muhammad Ali proud.


Even on Sunday, after Pierzynski homered off of Carlos Zambrano, he and Barrett had some "quieter" words at the plate.

And these two guys are friends.

The White Sox visit Wrigley Field for a weekend series beginning June 30. Pierzynski would be well advised to wear more than a batting helmet and catcher's gear.

Is he, or isn't he?

Can you believe Albert Pujols has 22 home runs in 44 games? Doesn't that equate to about 86 for the season?

I'm amazed there hasn't yet been a public demand on Pujols with the most common question going around baseball right now: "Is he on the juice?"

We haven't seen anything that would make anybody wonder ... yet. He is simply a beast on the diamond. He has not tested positive. He hasn't had any former lady friend make any allegations. His body has not transformed since he has been in the majors. What we see now is what we saw when he came to the bigs.

Since he is only 26 and obviously has a long, long career ahead of him, will he be the next target? I'm sure he knows he is going to be a huge target - if he isn't already - but so far he's come up clean.

And I will never, ever, when I have the first pick in a fantasy draft, pass him by in favor of Alex Rodriguez.

Nationals came up short

In the first baseball games between Baltimore and Washington since 1971, the Nationals and their fans had a real chance to stake a claim in the renewed rivalry last weekend.

Granted, Washington won two of the three games, but where were all the fans? I would have expected RFK to be a sellout each game, but instead saw plenty of colored seats. What was it, 35,000 was the best crowd?

The Nationals and their fans had a chance to stick it to Orioles owner Peter Angelos. The Orioles are having one of their worst seasons in attendance ever and even with a ballpark much more baseball-oriented than RFK, aren't doing much better than the Nationals.

We'll see who owns the 35-mile stretch of highway between the two locales when the Orioles host the Nationals in late June.

A turn to basketball

And I would be remiss if I didn't make a short comment on the Cleveland Cavaliers, victims of their own poor performance Sunday against Detroit.

The Cavaliers just didn't have enough in the tank after taking a 3-2 lead in the series. I, for one, didn't even expect the Cavaliers to win one game against Detroit. After all, the Pistons made the Cavs look like a developmental team during the regular season.

LeBron James is the man! However, we saw Sunday it takes five men on the floor at the same time playing in a cohesive manner. That was not the case for the Cavs.

Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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