There is grass-roots politicking for the election of Arizona's Randy Johnson for the NL Cy Young Award and the loudest noise is coming from deep in the grass and the voice sounds a lot like Johnson's.
Johnson is 14-14 and took umbrage with ESPN when the network gabbers didn't include his name among the legitimate candidates for the Cy Young.
"They talked about it on national TV and they didn't even mention me," he said. "I feel that's an insult. Yeah, my record is not where it normally is, but I'm having as good a year as anybody in baseball."
Uh, Randy, Roger Clemens is 18-4.
"Me winning it would state that I overcame a lot of adversity, with the trade rumors stuff in July and talk I was done because of my sore knee," he said. "All I've done is come back to have as good a year, if not better, than any other year, considering the circumstances."
Uh, Randy, Carl Pavano is 17-7.
Sure, Johnson leads the league in strikeouts with 272, sure Johnson is third in earned-run average at 2.64, sure opponents are hitting only .193 against him, lowest in the majors, sure his team has scored three or fewer runs in 13 of his last 14 starts.
Uh, Randy, Jason Schmidt is 16-7.
"Because I pitch for a team that has lost more than 100 games, I think the year that I've had is being overshadowed," he said. "Wins are out of my control. The other people under consideration? I'd like to see what their record would be here. Take their ERA and their opponents batting average and put them here."
Uh, Randy, Chris Carpenter is 15-5. Shawn Estes is 15-7. Better luck next year, pal.
BAD DECISION: Speaking of Estes, he begged Arizona to sign him to a minor-league contract and let him win a job. The Diamondbacks declined.
Instead, they signed Shane Reynolds for $1-million and they received two innings.
The Rockies signed Estes for $600,000. Arizona must have remembered the Shawn Estes who spent two months with the 2002 Reds and didn't win a game.
SABATHIA STRUGGLED: As an ace, Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia was more like the joker. In 30 starts, Sabathia won one game against a team with a winning record. He was 1-5 with a 5.16 ERA.
"I don't know what to say, that's terrible," Sabathia said.
The motion is seconded.
WEATHERS WAS NICE: Veteran reliever David Weathers made a rare start last week for the hurricane-wracked Marlins, whose season died when they had to play 30 games in 27 days, including three doubleheaders in 11 days.
That's why Weathers made his first start in 2,311 games. And he won, his first win as a starter since May 23, 1998, for the Reds, his last start. He had made 455 relief appearances since.
"Sometimes we players don't realize how far we can push ourselves," he said after holding the Cubs to one run. "I'm from the old school where you go as hard as you can for as long as you can. This was the most fun I had all season."
Rookie Logan Kensing had no fun. Because they were so pitch-thin, the Marlins dug all the way to Class A for Kensing for three important September starts and, as expected, he went 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA.
_ COX NEWS SERVICE
BRAVE STRATEGY: The Braves figure to be in an interesting position next weekend. When they visit Wrigley Field on Friday, they could get a chance to knock the Cubs out of the playoffs.
They wouldn't mind doing that, either, as it would allow them to open the postseason against the West champion rather than Chicago, which eliminated them in the division series last season.
Pitching coach Leo Mazzone addressed the possibilities after Greg Maddux won his 15th game Thursday.
"I love Mad Dog," Mazzone told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "But I'd really like to knock the Cubs out of the playoffs. Payback time."
Normally the last weekend of the season finds Atlanta tuning up for its annual run in the playoffs. But that doesn't mean the Braves will be easy prey.
While manager Bobby Cox generally spends the last weekend of the season lining up his pitching for the playoffs, with top starters in the dugout more than they're on the mound, the Braves still have gone 10-6 in the final series over the last five years.
"I've never known Bobby to do anything other than to try to win that day's game," Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz said. "I can't think that Bobby will do anything other than what he has done in the past."
_ CHICAGO TRIBUNE
WHAT A CATCH
With his move to first base, San Diego's Phil Nevin is one of 13 players in history to play 100 or more games at catcher, first base and third base:
Games played at
Player C 1B 3B
1. Johnny Bench 1,742 145 195
2. Buck Ewing 636 253 127
3. Duke Farrell 1,003 106 290
4. Jimmie Foxx 108 1,919 141
5. Jim Leyritz 308 149 105
6. Keith Moreland 169 160 220
7. Phil Nevin 106 222 482
8. Jim O'Rourke 209 103 119
9. Billy Sullivan 414 127 121
10. B.J. Surhoff 704 437 316
11. Joe Torre 903 787 515
12. Deacon White 226 131 826
13. Todd Zeile 129 459 1,498
_ Rocky Mountain News