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gene therapy

work on the servers continues; i had some trouble logging on this morning. any of you who've had similar problems, thanks again for your patience.

i walked up to the box office yesterday and bought a ticket right behind home plate, about 30 rows back; sat next to gene, the cpa, and talked baseball all afternoon with him. enjoyed every minute. he wanted to know if la russa is popular in st louis; hoo boy. took me almost a whole half-inning to answer that one. the gist of my response: respected, yes; popular? not until he brings the city a world series title -- or, at the very least, comes close against a worthy foe.

we both agreed there's no better time to be at the ballpark than midday / midweek, when everybody else is working; something very 1910 about sitting idly in bright sunshine watching a game being played on a green field while, for blocks all around us -- in skyscrapers and warehouses and delivery vans and kitchens and shops -- livings were being earned. gene n me didn't earn squat yesterday; is there a better kind of living than that?

he grew up in south dakota, played some baseball there -- pretty good player too, he admitted when pressed. he was on a traveling team called, how 'bout that, the cardinals; an all-star team of sorts, comprising the best players from all the little towns within, oh, a hundred-mile region or so. they'd bus down to nebraska or up to north dakota to play little-town teams from those regions; gene spent two or three summers that way, great memories. when his sons played on little league teams, he coached em; that, he said, was a very satisfying and rewarding experience.

when aaron miles was on the rockies, he was gene's favorite player; i think miles hit the homer just for his sake. miles' replacement at 2b, jamey carroll, is gene's new favorite rockie. how come? i asked, and he said i dunno, i just like the way these guys play. i stole a look at gene . . . .probably about 5'6"; prob'y played 2d base back in dakota . . . .

it suddenly became clearer to me how la russa can always find a roster spot for the aaron mileses and mike gallegos and miguel cairos of the world.

i had an excellent vantage point from which to watch supps; he was super sharp, moving the ball all over the strike zone and mixing up his pitches superbly, never showed the same look two at-bats in a row. his breaking pitches had bite, and even the fastball had a little tail on it; a pleasure to see all of that out of supper. i also came away with a very favorable impression of john rodriguez; duncan may have more power potential, but for this year -- today -- rodriguez is the superior hitter, hands down. we've seen so little of him lately i had almost forgotten what a grind-it-out professional he is up there; it was his first start since the all-star break, only his 3d of the entire month. yesterday he held discipline and aggression in perfect balance -- didn't chase pitches out of the strike zone but attacked pitches within it. prototypical la russa hitter. in his limited duty this month (only 30 plate appearances) he has an OPS of 1.259, with the same number of extra-base hits as duncan (5) and nearly as many rbis (6, to duncan's 7).

but he's done it in half the at-bats duncan's had.

onward, then, to the minors: trey hearne won his 6th in a row and allowed just 2 hits in 7 innings. he now ranks 5th in the midwest league with 9 wins, but the 4 guys ahead of him (all of whom are tied w 10 wins) have made between 16 and 20 starts; hearne has made just 11. he's also 5th in the league in era and tied for third in whip. . . . i'd like to see what he can do in palm beach.

2006 draftees john jay and mark hamilton also starred in that game. jay went 3 for 4 with 5 rbi, raising his average to .365; hamilton went 2 for 5 and actually saw his average drop, to .538; he's 7 for 13 since being promoted from state college.

finally, a reader named Coreblog sent in some outstanding pictures of colby rasmus in action -- snapped just two nights ago. click on the small image of each pic to get a larger view. many thanks, Coreblog, for sharing these great pics with ev'yone.