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Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Jason Bay, unalignment and Ben Roethlisberger

Why is it that, when Phil Hughes has a no-hitter going, he suddenly turns into Charlie Brown on the mound?

(I was looking for one of the cartoons when he serves up a comebacker that knocks him off his feet and basically leaves him in his underwear. But I couldn't find that, and I thought the above linked video was pretty funny).

We all had the same thought early this morning when Hughes lost his no-hitter by losing sight of Eric Chavez's ball, right? That hey, this was a lot better for the Yankees than the last time Hughes worked on a no-no.

In any case, it was obviously a fantastic night for Hughes, continuing a fantastic Yankees season. And right now, if you're a Yankees fan, the starting pitcher who concerns you the most is Javier Vazquez.

Which is ironic, because when the Yankees acquired Vazquez this past winter, they professed that the pressure would be off Vazquez because of the presence of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte, yet in reality, they thought Vazquez would wind up climbing toward the front of the rotation.

Instead...I wouldn't say the pressure is off Vazquez. But Vazquez certainly is pitching - through only three starts, mind you - like a back-of-the-rotation guy.

This development reminds me of "The Larry Sanders Show," when Larry fakes a painkiller addiction as an excuse to take a break from the show, only to later develop an actual painkiller addiction.

--Joba Chamberlain is now the Yankees' eighth-inning setup man. Just as the Yankees had in mind back in 2007, when they first gave Chamberlain that role. Or...not at all. But hey: Developing young pitchers is hard. Joba has had a notably circuitous route. Yet if he actually sticks in this job for the next few years - let's assume that Mariano Rivera will sign a two-year extension after this season _ then I suppose all's well that ends well.

Chamberlain will be eligible for free agency after the 2013 season, and if Rivera does sign up for two more years, that leaves only the '13 season in question regarding the team's closer before Joba will have to decide on his future. Could be intriguing. Or, things might have changed dramatically by that point.

--Joe Girardi praised Robinson Cano.

--As Anthony Rieber wrote, Oliver Perez was "eh" last night against the Cubs last night. Ollie gave the Mets a performance they could at least work with. The real problem came with the bullpen.

But if Johan Santana prevails tonight, then the Mets will have themselves their first series victory of the season. They already have their first series non-loss of the season.

(Yes, the bar is set low for the Mets.)

--David Lennon wrote about Jason Bay's early struggles, and Lennon mentions Bay's streaky 2009 season. Out of curiosity, I looked further back, to see if Bay always was so streaky.

In 2008, Bay's production varied somewhat by month, but he hit bettter than league avearge every month. In 2007, Bay followed a very good April and May by hitting very poorly the rest of the season, although that year goes down as an aberration for his bad numbers.

In 2006, he was pretty good, month by month. And in 2005,  Bay was even better, month by month.

So...I don't know what to think. Bay is at least playing like he's a little shaken by his new settting. Which is ironic, in that he seemed so comfortable when he joined the Red Sox back in 2008, in what should have been - in theory - a far more difficult challenge (replacing Manny Ramirez in the middle of a pennant race).

The real concern, of course, is that Bay, now 31, is beginning to fade, and the streakiness reflects that. And the cold streaks will last longer than the hot streaks.

--The Mets placed Ryota Igarashi on the disabled list yesterday.

--Alfonso Soriano always will be a needle-moving player. It is simply astounding that, after all of these years, he still gets caught not running out hard-hit balls that he stops to admire. You'd think that by now, he'd have a better sense of when it's gone and when it isn't.

In any case, Soriano's performance the last few days provides hope to the Cubs that he can give them something this year. At this point, the fact that the Cubs owe Soriano $18 million a season through 2014 is nothing short of staggering. Good Lord, was that a bad contract.

--Ike Davis made a great catch in foul territory last night. In the same notebook, there is word that the Cubs demoted Carlos Zambrano to their bullpen, a rather surprising development given Zambrano has a monster contract of his own. But the truth is 1) Zambrano has been the Cubs' worst starting pitcher this year, and 2) Scouts from other teams have been taking note of his diminished velocity and stuff. So maybe this is a good band-aid for both Zambrano and the Cubs' bullpen, however ludicrous it appears on the surface.

--Great story here about the woman who threw out the ceremonial first pitch at last night's Mets game.

--Thanks to Dennis for referring me to Jeff Passan's proposal to "unalign" baseball. I think it's a great idea. I can't think of a simple, good reason not to do it. As Passan writes, it would liberate the Rays. And I don't think anyone would really object if we ramped down from 18 Yankees-Red Sox games a year to 11.

And, of course, it has pretty much no chance of actually happening.

--Finally, I can't help but take note of the Ben Roethlisberger suspension, and place it in the context of baseball. Look, I think we can all agree that Roethlisberger looks like a total sleazebag from what we know of this and other events.

But there's a difference between morality and legality, and it's amazing to me that the NFL Players Association is so weak that it allows Roger Goodell to suspend Roethlisberger even though he wasn't so much as formally accused of a crime, let alone convicted of one.

I think every baseball player would agree that playing football carries more health risks than playing baseball. What a shame, then, that football players are served nowhere near as well by their union as are baseball players.

--Going to an APSE meeting with Bud Selig today at MLB headquarters, so I'll check in after that.

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