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June 30- Violent Pepper -

Shawn Chacon assaults Ed Wade, Jerry Manuel allegedly threatens to cut one of his players with a blade, J.P. Ricciardi and Adam Dunn get into a verbal fight, injuries to Don Cooper and Felix Hernandez... it's been a violent week, and Gregory has the details in his Weekly Pepper.

June 29- Tigers Roar; Rays Raise the Roof -

For some of us, this day seemed like it would never come. Others wonder what took so long. But one thing is clear: for the AL Central, the season starts today.

Why, you might ask? Simple. As of today, June 29th, the Detroit Tigers are a .500 ballclub for the first time this season.

But while the Tigers have come roaring back from an 0-7 start to the season, do they have enough pitching to maintain their current hot streak?

And if the season begins this week for the AL Central, history itself may begin this week for the AL East, where there is a significant possibility that the week could end with the Tampa Bay Rays owning as much as a six-and-a-half game lead in the AL East, a position reserved during the last ten years for the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. We could be witnessing history, or even the birth of a real live, honest-to-God Major League Baseball franchise.

June 28 - Does Expansion Dilute Hitting, too? -

Bill James has long since insisted that expansion does not dilute pitching any more than it does hitting. Asher, as usual, immediately disagreed with Bill James. But upon the examination of our modern quartet of dominant hurlers, Asher may reconsider his position.

June 26 - CWS Game 3 Running Diary -

Eric regales us with news and notes from Game Three of the College World Series between underdog Fresno State and the favored Georgia in his Running Diary.

June 25 - Splitsville: Milton Bradley and More -

To Dante Bichette, Jim Rice, Dale Murphy, and all of the notorious home/road splits of the past, we may now need to bid adieu. For it appears that in 2008 we may be witnessing the most notorious home/road split season of all time.

As you know, Milton Bradley is a talented player whose home games are played in a hitters park, so you probably figured that his numbers are aided somewhat by playing at The Ballpark in Arlington.

But if you are like Asher, you had no idea as to how disparate his splits actually are.

After Asher took a look at the splits of the two notorious Texas Rangers, he decided to look around the league a little more, and discovered not only that Milton Bradley may have some history-making company, but also happened upon two of the most underrated players in baseball.

June 23 - Radiation: Ricciardi Goes Crazy -

It has been Manager Ejection Week around Major League Baseball, and not the Earl Weaver/Bobby Cox kind. Willie Randolph was fired while his Mets were one game below .500 and John McLaren got the axe three days after his general manager did while their Mariners had the worst record in baseball.

Most recently, Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi canned manager John Gibbons when his team sat four games below .500. When viewed in a vacuum, the firing doesn't appear particularly noteworthy, but coupled with other Toronto transactions over the past few months, it helps paint the picture of an insane GM, writes Keith.

Gregory disagrees, writing that Gibbons' inability to instill respect in his players made him the most deserving of these three sackees. His Weekly Pepper piece also discusses injury questions for two young workhorse pitchers, laments the loss of Cooperstown's Hall of Fame Game, and contrasts Pete Rose with Alex Rodriguez.

June 16 - KGO and The Great Communicator -

This week's Pepper centers around Ken Griffey Jr. He has always been known as Ken Griffey Overrated here at Baseball Evolution, and Gregory finds that to certainly be an accurate nickname now. There is a chance, however, that he was underrated earlier in his career.

Gregory still can't abide by Asher's characterization of Ozzie Guillen as detrimental to the Chicago White Sox, however, and the recollection of Asher's statement have combined with the White Sox' unexpected run at a division title to spur Gregory's rant about managers, featuring Bobby Cox, Ned Yost, Joe Torre, and Willie Randolph, as well as The Great Communicator himself.

Finally, Gregory has penned a review of Living on the Black, a tribute to the starkly similar careers of Mike Mussina and Tom Glavine, both of whom deserve eventual enshrinement into the Hall of Fame.

June 8 - Week 10 Pepper -

Why do today's pitchers suffer injuries so frequently when their innings are limited and modern medicine has advanced so far? Why do so many baseball people want to commit cultural suicide by continually bringing in fences at baseball stadiums? Why is John McLaren imitating Bob Saget? Answers to these questions and more can be found in Gregory Pratt's Weekly Pepper.

June 6 - Playing with a Chip on his Shoulder -

Braves fans may or may not remember last June, when the Braves endured a five game losing streak during which they scored a grand total of one run. On June 22nd, in the middle of that streak, the Braves were limited to two hits by Kenny Rogers and the Detroit Tigers bullpen, and lost 5-0. After the game, John Smoltz, the Braves losing pitcher, called out Chipper Jones in the dugout for not being in the lineup often enough.

What happened next is, as they say, history. It may turn out to be that John Smoltz's frustrated post-game words have inspired one of the most remarkable seasons in memory.

June Power Rankings -

Last season, four of the eventual eight playoff teams fell below the Line of Death, signifying that the team didn't have the right stuff to reach the postseason. A 50% success rate isn't too great. This year, we hope to do better. With two months in the books, we find five teams, or one-sixth of the teams, without any realistic hopes for the playoffs.

In more pleasant news, the Chicago Cubs are off to their best start in 90 years and the Tampa Bay Rays are off to their best start ever. And both teams can breathe a little easier, knowing that neither will become this year's 2007 Brewers. That team has already been identified.

So whether you're a fan of one of the teams that fell below the Line of Death or one of the two teams that jumped more than 15 spots in the standings over the past month, enjoy our June Power Rankings.

June 1 - Week 9 Pepper -

Ted Williams' temporary retirement after the 1954 season and the two different explanations for his comeback in 1955 headline Gregory Pratt's Weekly Pepper. It boils down to the question, "would you rather be rich or famous?" We're also treated to an anecdote about Williams' rival as well as a Tale of Two Guillens: one has hemorrhoids, while the other has ulcers.

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