We're about a month away from the playoffs ...
- On June 11, the New York Yankees took sole possession of first place in the AL East. They never relinquished it. Until last night, that is. The lead, which was 10 games at its zenith, is now gone after the Tampa Bay Rays took down the Yankees yesterday while the Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays. That brought the O's into a tie with the Yankees, and the Rays to within a game and a half of the top. The Yankees are 19-25 over their last 44 games, and haven't been hitting at nearly the same clip that they were in the first two and a half months. They've also dealt with a number of high profile injuries, including Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and CC Sabathia, not to mention guys like Michael Pineda and Brett Gardner, whom they've been without for most or all of the season. The Yankees' slump is deep, but to miss the playoffs entirely, they would still have to be passed by one of the O's or Rays, and then also by another two teams in the Wild Card race.
- Roger Clemens says he doesn't see himself pitching beyond his next start with Sugar Land, and really doesn't think pitching in MLB this year is going to happen. Whatever. Maybe he will, maybe he won't, but Clemens isn't exactly the most reliable source.
- At least one MLB scout is convinced that steroid use is as rampant now as it was back in 2002. Cork Gaines at Business Insider writes that it is a claim that is facially absurd, given increased testing and the relatively few positive tests. But then he points out that, because players are guaranteed to be tested just twice all year, and because testosterone levels can return to normal levels within six hours of using a synthetic testosterone, it's conceivable that many more guys are using than we think. The ones who get caught, Gaines suggests, are either really unlucky, or really stupid.
- Kansas City Royals' outfielder Wil Myers is Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year. He had a .987 OPS and 37 homers over 134 games at AAA.
- We're used to "September call-ups" including, at the team's option, any player on the 40-man roster. But MLB is considering a change to that rule, which would limit call-ups to a 30-man roster, with the team's base 25-man roster being locked in at the end of August.
- Jimmy Rollins now has 2000 career hits.
- Classic pictures from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Pretty cool slice of history there.