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Quick hits only today:

- Don't look now, but Mike Smith is turning it around at Syracuse: 8 shutout innings last night (5 H, 1 BB, 3 K). On May 1, Smith had an 8.15 ERA and had allowed almost 2 baserunners an inning. Since then: 36 IP, 32 H, 12 BB, 23 K, and his ERA is now 4.10. Still not dominant, but he continues to progress towards usefulness.

- New Haven got blasted 10-1. Not much to tell here, except Rich Thompson had two more hits and now has 13 steals.

- David Bush threw a terrific game against the Tampa Yankees (6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) and left with a three-run lead, but his bullpen let him down: Andy Torres and then Jordan DeJong blew the win, the latter allowing 3 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks in just a third of an inning.

- Brandon League threw the game of the night in Charleston: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 11 K in a 4-1 win. On the season: 2-3, 2.08, 60 IP, 49 H, 18 BB, 52 K, 24% KBF.
Having already posted one law-related baseball story without being run out of Blogtown on a rail, here's another one: the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal by Florida's Attorney General that baseball's antitrust exemption violates state antitrust laws. The judges did so reluctantly, however, finding that a good faith reading of the US Supreme Court's 1972 decision in Flood v. Kuhn required them to rule as they did. But Judge Gerald Tjoflat certainly made clear the panel's distaste for the exemption and their strong desire that somebody -- Congress or the Supremes -- get rid of it. MLB says this would mark the end of life as we know it in our galaxy, as well as the entire minor-league system. I almost believe them on the second part, but minor-league ball wouldn't die, it would just reorganize, probably for the better. It's a loss for the good guys, but a moral victory of sorts, I suppose.
If you had told me on April 2 that Esteban Loaiza and Cory Lidle would have 15 wins combined for the whole season, I'd have said that's about right, with Lidle probably having 14 of them. Alas, here we are on May 29, and Loaiza brings his 7-2 record to the Dome, where he'll match fastballs and splitters with eight-game winner Cory Lidle. The Jays are fresh off a shutout at the hands of Jon Garland. Me thinks that won't happen tonight, mainly because Garland's not pitching, but also because keeping Toronto's offence down isn't an easy task.
If Jerry Colangelo says yes, then this deal apparently will happen: sidewinding pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim straight-up for sabrmetric whipping boy Shea Hillenbrand. This is a win for Boston -- Arizona should be collecting young pitchers, not trading them away, and Shea is four years older than Kim and has just a .317 career OBP. But it's not an overwhelming win: Kim has had injury problems, and there's no indication he can pitch more than 100 innings a season, while Hillenbrand has decent power and can hit a useful .300. Advantage Red Sox, though, no question. Thanks to Shane for the tip.
Don't forget to join the Batter's Box crew, including Robert, Craig and (hopefully) Kent at the SkyDome tonight; we're offering free tickets - there are tickets still available and please e-mail Craig at to let him know you're coming.

We're meeting at Gate 9 near the Will Call window - that's where Craig will be standing in an Expos hat (should be the only one at the park, you can't miss him). We're meeting between 6:30 and 6:45 but Craig will be there a few extra minutes if necessary to pick up stragglers.

Just so there's no confusion, here's a picture:

Put New Haven's batters with Charleston's pitchers, and you'd have a pretty fine team. As it stands, though, a lot of losses last night for Toronto's farm clubs.
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ESPN recently ran a fascinating conversation with Vernon Wells. In this interview, we learn, among other things, that Vernon doesn't like his name, doesn't swear, and never gets angry about his at-bats.
So named because Craig, Robert, Kent and many other BBers are assembled at Skydome tonight for the first meeting of the Batter's Box Blue Jays Bandwagon Club, and because if Toronto reels off a seventh straight win this evening, more than a few fans might be eyeing a comfy seat on the real bandwagon. The Blue Jays May turnaround has been simply electric, and people around the league are starting to notice. Now if only Torontonians would do the same: with no Stanley Cup game on, will the crowd break the 20,000 barrier tonight?
Browsing through the magazine rack at my local newsstand, I came across a really interesting publication called Legal Affairs, published by Yale Law School. Well, okay, interesting to me as a law magazine editor, but it's unique among such periodicals because it's aimed towards and accessible to both lawyers and non-lawyers. It wasn't the law angle that grabbed my attention, though, but a teaser line on the cover: "Are baseball players underpaid?"

This is the article that produced that headline, and it's quite a good read. Written with a lot more sophistication about the game than one would expect from a legal journalist, "Lowball" hammers the arbitration system, arguing (correctly) that it has come to unfairly penalize the rank-and-file players at the expense of the stars. Touching on everything from the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to the Kevin Millwood giveaway, it's a sharp little piece that I thought would be of interest to Boxers, legal and otherwise.
Howie Clark has played every position but pitcher in his professional career. Carlos Tosca has been reluctant to give call-ups Jason Kershner, Brian Bowles and now Josh Towers more than limited action in low-risk situations, so don't expect Clark to get a lot of playing time. The Jays will likely have Bordick start the lion share of games at third base, with Berg spelling him. Nevertheless, Clark's lefty bat could be useful coming off the bench in pinch-hitting situations.

Clark is a career minor leaguer who made his major league debut with Baltimore last year at the age of 28. He's been in the Orioles' organisation until this year, with the exception of 2001, which he spent in the Mexican League and the (Independent) Western League.

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British Columbia's own Adam Loewen went literally to the stroke of midnight before signing with the Orioles, who originally drafted him almost a year ago today. Terms were as usual not available, but Baltimore's last offer was reportedly in the $2.5 million range. That would be much less than other top picks have been getting recently, but with Bud Selig ready to clamp down on high-draft signing bonuses, Loewen may have decided he wasn't going to do much better. Besides, the way this year's draft was shaping up, Loewen looked destined for the Brewers. Wow, Baltimore or Milwaukee? Firing squad or the guillotine? Good luck, Adam, and watch your pitch counts.

The Blue Jays weren't going to so much as sniff Loewen this draft, but the signing is still a spot of bad news: it takes away one more potential high draft choice and reduces the pool of talent that Toronto could snag at #13. But JP probably has his eye on a number of players. Mississippi State lefty Paul Maholm and Houston right-hander Brad Sullivan appear to be near the top of the Jays' wish list, but with the paucity of big bats in the lower minors, don't be surprised if JP takes a position player #1. The draft starts June 3.
It's Roy Halladay vs. Bartolo Colon at the Skydome tonight, and if the game proceeds like most marquee pitching matchups these days, it'll be a 10-9 final. Okay, that's unlikely: both of these guys are near the top of their game right now, and the fans in attendance are in for a treat. Jerry Manuel is on a very hot seat, and if his ace loses this one to the red-hot Jays, he may be looking for a job this time tomorrow.
I went to Monday night's game; when I go to a game, I take notes. Here's my writeup; enjoy. (I like semicolons; some people don't.)
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Pitching, pitching and more pitching well, except for Diegomar Markwell and the continuing remarkable season of Simon Pond.
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Yes, I know: it's wildly premature. But what's the fun of being a baseball fan if you can't do irrational things once in awhile. As such, I've devised a new weekly feature, which I hope to update every Monday morning from here on in.

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