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Monday Morning Headlines

It's a beautiful day here in Chicago. And in most of the country (save, I understand, in parts of Wisconsin where it's storming this morning).

So what are you doing sitting by a computer? Go out and enjoy summer before it's gone. The Cubs are off today, and don't play till tomorrow evening. But before you do, check out some newsworthy items from this Monday:

Shocking! I agree with Phil Rogers this morning. OK, you can get up off the floor now. He says it's time to start hitting more home runs:

Including Jacque Jones, Mark DeRosa, Matt Murton, Daryle Ward, Floyd and Blanco, the Cubs have nine guys who combined for 164 home runs in 2006. That group has produced 75 homers so far--a pace that projects to a 43 percent decrease if it continues for the five weeks that remain.

Actually, unless Soriano, Lee or Ramirez gets hot, the recent trend suggests the totals could be worse by the end of the season. The Cubs have hit an NL-low 30 homers in the second half, 26 fewer than Milwaukee.

Don't look now, but the Reds have sneaked back into the NL Central race, even with a record ten games under .500. But Bruce Miles says Lou's not worried, not this week, anyway:

There was just no getting Cubs manager Lou Piniella to bite on how important this week's upcoming series with the Milwaukee Brewers is.

"I think it's a little early," Piniella said Sunday before repeating it for emphasis. "It's an important series, but it's early. We're still in August. What you're starting to see is Cincinnati is (6½) out, and Pittsburgh is 9. The whole division is getting closer."

Somebody forgot to tell Jason Grey, a writer, that Alfonso Soriano's playing left field these days:

Manager Lou Piniella confirmed Sunday that center fielder Alfonso Soriano, who has been out since Aug. 5 with a right quad strain, will be activated and bat leadoff for the series opener against the Brewers on Tuesday.

Well, what do you expect, when the Cubs lose Soriano for 19 games, go 8-11 in those games, and gain 2.5 games on the division lead during that time? (Hat tip to BCB reader Eric W. for the link)

And if you're starting to hunt around for clues to next year's regular season schedule, something that's normally finalized on August 15, it's been delayed, and you won't like the reasons:

The 2008 schedule may not be completed for another few weeks, and issues regarding the Red Sox are a big reason for the delay.

First, Major League Baseball is pushing for the Sox to open the season in Japan against the Oakland A's, a move most of the Red Sox are resisting. CEO Larry Lucchino, who is part of baseball's International Committee, is one voice in favor of a trip.

The Japanese promoter has told MLB that he will not schedule the series unless the Sox are part of the matchup.

That's bad enough, but the article goes on to say:

Another issue revolves around weekend dates. Major League Baseball wants the majority of Red Sox-Yankees games scheduled for weekend series, so that the game can highlight the teams on Fox (Saturday Game of the Week) and ESPN (Sunday Night Baseball). But small-market teams, who attract their biggest crowds of the season when the Red Sox and Yankees come to town, also want their share of weekend series with the team, so as to draw even better.

Oh, please. Like we don't get enough Yankees and Red Sox on the Eastern Sports Programming Network already? Bleah.

Now go out and enjoy the rest of this day. Read a book. See a movie. Sleep in (OK, so if you're reading this, you haven't done that). You can resume stressing about the pennant race tomorrow.