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Eric chronicles a 7-2 Cubs victory in a crucial game between the National League's two best teams. He also provides some trade deadline commentary and Jason Kendall hate propoganda in his running diary.

Francisco Liriano is crying foul over the Minnesota Twins' manipulation of his arbitration status, Dan Haren is making a run at the National League ERA title, and Casey Blake heads to the Dodgers for two prospects. Gregory has opinions on these matters and shares a fun anecdote from the 1972 World Series in his Weekly Pepper.

Meanwhile, Asher sought out to get some inside info on recent trades, as well as some potential blockbusters involving Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez. What he instead found was that you gotta wake up pretty early in the morning to scoop Jon Heyman.

On Saturday's Fox Game of the Week, Joe Buck spent the better part of the telecast talking about how he couldn't believe that another team couldn't trump the package of prospects that the Yankees dealt to the Pirates to obtain Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte, as though Nady and Marte were the best players available to any team at the deadline. But contrary to conventional sentiment, the Pirates got way more back for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte than they should have, and the Yankees did little to help their bid for the postseason.

The change has been noticed not just in the Bay Area but across the country. There is something different in the air in San Francisco. It would be tempting to say that the “something different” is intangible, that no one can put their finger on it, but the mood has changed. That would be an incorrect assertion because it is a change on which everyone can put their finger. There can be no doubt about it – the Barry Bonds Era has come to a close, the Giants are a better team for it, and the reason is Fred Lewis.

This week, we learn that Josh Hamilton is a five-tool player, that Greg Maddux is the King of Thieves, and that Alex Rodriguez is no GI-Joe. Gregory Pratt's Week 16 Pepper awaits.

Hey... what's Ryan Braun doing on the mound?
Excellent strikeout pitching supported by mediocre defense? Check. Apparently good hitting marred by high strikeout totals, low on-base percentages, and deceptively unproductive power? Check. High-profile big-named youngsters who show flashes of greatness combined with the inexperience of youth? Check. Mediore division to inflate win totals? Check.

The Arizona Diamondbacks were the best team in baseball for the first month-and-a-half of the 2008 season before struggling mightily. We don't need to look far back in history to see a parallel occurrence: Last year's Milwaukee Brewers were a team of similar composition that faltered in a similar manner. So are the Diamondbacks destined to be 2008's Team of Tomorrow? Keith takes a look .

Josh Hamilton: The Benchmark for a Revolution - Josh Hamilton has become a fan favorite across the nation. That's all well and good, but whenever a player is universally liked, people tend to use the player's stats to prove that he is great rather than use his stats to determine whether or not he is great.

"The goal of sportswriting 'analysis' is to convince, and the goal of sabermetrics is to learn," writes Bill James, the founder of sabermetrics. Even though baseball people have spent the past quarter century learning that RBI are largely a team-drven stat, when a beloved player like Josh Hamilton drives in an inordinate number of runs, RBI suddenly make a comeback worthy of Hamilton himself. As this love for RBI is rekindled, the sabermetric revolution fades.

This week, Gregory makes his pick for the NL Central race, discusses the genesis of baseball in Japan, professes his undying love for Josh Hamilton (again), and expresses disdain towards what he considers to be the worst Sports Illustrated Cover of all time. Week 15 Pepper awaits.

We here at Baseball Evolution tend to get our noses so close to our stat sheets that we can't see what's going on around us.  Sometimes, a baseball game isn't about Tim Lincecum's 10th win of the season, Sean Gallagher's last start with the Chicago Cubs, and the Giants' highest run total in a 12-game span.  Those details are important, but when attending a baseball game in person, there are other things to consider.

What things?  That depends upon whom you ask.  Gregory Pratt and Richard Van Zandt recently took in a Cubs/Giants game together, and both BE writers came away with a different pleasant experience.

Rich's take | Gregory's take

Gregory Pratt enjoyed a lengthy conversation with Jack McDowell, in which the lanky ex-major leaguer discussed pitch counts, his relationship with the media, Cy Young Awards, his current enterprises, and much, much more. Black Jack spends much of his time coaching, both with his children and at his high school, but still took the time to answer questions from a long time fan.

It's never easy to see unworthy selections such as Dustin Pedroia or Alfonso Soriano starting in an All-Star game. But what would you say to an All-Star squad that has Jason Giambi starting over Kevin Youkilis? Or one that has Derek Jeter as its starting shortstop, but no mention of Manny Ramirez or J.D. Drew? In an uncharacteristically bold display of his New York bias, Tony chooses three Yankees and no Red Sox players when selecting his All-Star starters.

July 8 - Brewers Trade for C.C. (But not Chom Candigy) -

For whatever reason, the Brewers and Indians seem to have enjoyed a rich history of swapping players. Thus, the C.C. Sabathia trade raises lots of questions. Will the Indians finally get back at the Brewers for Richie Sexson with Matt LaPorta? Will C.C. Sabathia be as irrelevant to Brewers history as Dave Burba is? Did we really think Geoff Jenkins, Richie Sexson, and Jeromy Burnitz would lead the Brewers to the playoffs?

July 7 - Controversial Pepper -

In an incendiary review of the week, Gregory calls Brian Wilson unfit to be an All-Star, compares Matt LaPorta to Richie Sexson, and considers Derek Jeter and Andy Van Slyke more important to the game's history than Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds are.  Is Gregory breathing in too much smog on the West Coast, or is there method to his madness?   

July 3 - The Dumbest Rule in Professional Sports

The nine inning requirement for a no-hitter came about in 1991, one year after Andy Hawkins lost a no-hitter for the Yankees by the score of 4-0. Up until that time, a no-hitter was any legal complete game in which a team did not give up a hit. MLB then decided that in order to be credited with a "no-hitter," a pitcher (or group of pitchers) must pitch a “full” game. Asher thinks that this is the dumbest rule in professional sports.

July 2 - Ten Compelling Questions for the Second Half

Will a Second Baseman whose last name begins with a “U” lead the NL in Homeruns? Will Michael Young and Ichiro Suzuki fail to get 200 Hits? Can the Phillies make it three MVPs in a Row? Can the New York Mets and the Detroit Tigers get it together? Will anyone in the American League hit forty homeruns? These are just some of the compelling questions for the second half

July 1 - July Power Rankings

The first of July is sort of the unofficial halfway mark of the baseball season. Three months are down, three left to go, and teams have hit the 81-game plateau. It also means that if a player or team hasn't gotten hot by now, he or it might struggle for the entire season.

Despite that fact, July is also a time of hope. If your team puts together a bit of a hot streak, and Jerry Reinsdorf isn't your owner, you might add a player or two before the fast-approaching deadline. If you're a team that's dead in the water, you have some juicy prospects and at least the requisite representation in the All-Star game to look forward to.

Because of these glimmers of hope, no new teams fall below the Line of Death this month. Any team can add a C.C. Sabathia and suddenly look real good. Except the Indians, of course, who would certainly settle for getting Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez back healthy and productive.

So whether you're a fan of one of the teams that figures to add a player this month or one that is looking to clean house, enjoy our July Power Rankings.

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Pat Hughes and Ron Santo were the Chicago Cubs' WGN Radio announcing team for 15 seasons. Their unique on-air chemistry became known as "the Pat and Ron Show" with fans tuning in as much for their eccentric banter as for Cubs baseball itself.

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