Eight observations at the baseball season's one-month mark:
1. Hey, Joe Girardi, the Yankees need you to manage your ballclub, not the news. You might or might not win doing the former, but you sure as hell won't win trying to do the latter.
Girardi spent far too much of his Sunday ripping into Selena Roberts for writing a book about Alex Rodriguez and the publishers of "A-Rod" for moving up the release date after some of the book's passages were leaked to a New York tabloid.
"It's interesting how the book date got moved up," Girardi told the rabid New York press corps. "I don't understand why someone would write a book like this anyway."
Oh, please. Joe is Northwestern educated. He's a smart guy. He knows exactly why this book was written.
For one, because A-Rod, the highest-paid athlete in the history of team sports, sullied his name, his employers and his sport by taking steroids and repeatedly lying about it. For another, because the book will sell and make money for the publisher and for Roberts, a talented Sports Illustrated writer.
You know, money. That's the same reason Rodriguez plays baseball instead of working as an administrative assistant for a non-profit organization. The same reason, by his own admission, that he took 'roids in the first place. The same reason Girardi works as a manager for the Steinbrenners instead of working as a stockboy for a family that owns a chain of shoe stores.
As for the book date getting moved up ... hello! Again, money. Strike while the fire is hot. In November, most ballparks will be cold, but that didn't stop MLB from pushing this year's World Series into November - because of money.
Among other things, Roberts' book alleges that A-Roid took performance-enhancers since joining the Yankees - after he swore on a stack of syringes that he stopped juicing before he left Texas for New York. The book also suggests he took steroids back in his high school days.
Surely, A-Roid vehemently denied these ridiculous allegations once they became public, right?
Uh, no. He just said he wouldn't talk about them. Best not to be caught in more lies, I suppose.
"A-Rod" is important to baseball's history. And it will be one of the top selling books this year.
Surely, Northwestern Joe does understand all of that.
2. Pitchers should not try to leg out bunt hits. Carlos Zambrano did just that - not only tried but succeeded. The cost, however, could be high. The Cubs ace hurt his hamstring and will miss some starts.
His manager defended him for his aggressiveness, and I get where Lou Piniella is coming from, but really? He wants his $90 million pitcher doing this in an early-May game - especially when said pitcher has so much power that Lou has used him as a pinch-hitter repeatedly this season?
Next time, Lou, tell Cra-Z to swing the bat.
3. Cito Gaston had a reputation as a "push-button manager" his first time around in Toronto. So when the Blue Jays fired him a few seasons after he led a powerhouse team to consecutive championships, no other team was willing to hire him for an entire decade.
Now Gaston is back running the Blue Jays and they are in first place. Once again, they have a high-scoring lineup, as well as one of baseball's best pitchers in Roy Halladay.
It must at least be possible that the manager is doing something right, no?
4. It's time for the White Sox to thank Jose Contreras for everything he did back in 2005 and then present him with lovely parting gifts.
No team needs an 83-year-old pitcher with an 8.31 ERA.
No contending team does, anyway.
5. Toronto, Kansas City, Seattle, Florida, St. Louis.
Well, maybe some of us at least picked the Dodgers to take the NL West.
(Not me, of course, but some of us.)
6. And speaking of surprises: Jason Marquis ... Colorado Rockies ... 4-1 ... 3.31 ERA. The Cubbie and Redbird reject has almost half of his team's wins. Wow.
7. Here's something a little less shocking: Albert Pujols is the best hitter in baseball. Period.
Based on what I've seen - dropped throws, failed scoops and muffed grounders - Pujols' fielding at first base is a little overrated.
But there is nothing overrated about the man's .356 average, 9 homers and 29 RBIs for a surprise first-place Cardinals club.
8. Based on the early evidence, there is not one great team in the majors this season.
More than just a few bad ones, though.