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The Closer: What If They Had A War And Nobody Showed Up?

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Notes from a day of baseball:

1. Wednesday's Fireworks Display Has Been Cancelled. Turns out that Pedro Martinez is smarter than a lot of us; a disconcerting notion, actually. The Mets' hurler was on his best behavior on Wednesday against his nemesis, the Nationals, and came away with a 3-1 victory, the fifth straight win for New York. Pedro didn't throw a single beanball, because he didn't have to; he got his point across last week against the Nationals when he hit about 30 guys (Mets pitchers hit six, actually). His crowning moment came in the sixth, when Washington loaded the bases with no outs. Martinez struck out Jose Vidro on a high fastball, and then faced Jose Guillen, whom he had plunked twice in one game last week. And as much as we wanted Martinez to hit him again (admit it, you did), what we got was a grounder to short for a double play. Inning over. Bob Watson's Baseball Security Force may stand down. Peace reigns at RFK Stadium ... for now.


2. They're Not Booing, They're Chanting 'Boooooomer!'. We've decided that we kind of like David Wells better when he's on the disabled list, amusing us with his down-home, irreverent comedy stylings, kind of a one-man Blue Collar Comedy Tour. The Red Sox hurler can mock Bud Selig like no one else; a talent that must be admired. At least that's entertaining, unlike his pitching performace on Wednesday, in which he gave up five runs over the first two innings in an 8-4 loss to the Blue Jays at Fenway. Alexis Rios, Bengie Molina and Vernon Wells all homered off him. Wells was booed almost from his first pitch, the crowd not letting up until he was yanked in the fifth. Even Dick Cheney was shaking his head, saying "Now, that guy is unpopular."

3. Death Of The Good Old-Fashioned Doubleheader. There is much wailing, gnashing of teeth and Biblical ark construction going on in San Francisco these days thanks to recent heavy rains. The Giants' game with the Astros was washed out on Wednesday for the second straight day, the first time that's happened in San Francisco since 1961. But here's what caught our eye: the game was rescheduled as part of a split doubleheader today, with Game 1 at 12:35 p.m. (Pacific Time) and Game 2 at 6:05 p.m. What the Giants will do is play the first game and then empty the park, shooing everyone out before letting them back in for the second contest. Two separate admissions? That just seems un-American somehow, especially since there probably won't even be enough time between games to catch a movie at the Metreon.

4. You Don't Mess Around With Jose Contreras. We get a kick out of reading, where the stories look as if they are written by attorneys. Take today's lead on the White Sox-Tigers game, for instance: "DETROIT — Jose Contreras needed to make just one significant adjustment prior to his second start of the season Wednesday at Comerica Park in order to ensure an even more successful effort than his opening performance one week ago against Cleveland." If this lead is to your satisfaction, sign here, and initial here, and here. Anyway, Contreras threw eight strong innings in Chicago's 4-3 win.

5. Gramps Can Deal. We like old people. There's something comforting about watching them riding about on their Lark scooters, fumbling for coupons in line at Red Lobster and pitching for the Chicago Cubs. Greg Maddux, who just turned 40, claimed his 320th career win in Chicago's 4-1 win over the Reds. He improved his record to 2-0 as he gave up three hits, walked two and struck out seven over six innings. He's closing in, by the way, on Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton on the all-time win list (both have 324).

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