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Weekend predictions: Mets, Yankees and Armando Galarraga

Apologies for the profound tardiness. My son graduated - from kindergarten - today. Fun morning.

1. The Mets, back home at Citi Field, will resume their strong play in Flushing, taking two of three games from the Marlins. Alas, they won't be able to fully escape their road malaise. Oliver Perez, having set up shop in the Mets' bullpen, will refuse again to go to the minor leagues.

"It's not that I'm averse to pitching in Buffalo," Perez will say, "It's just that I'm too busy tending to my garden in the bullpen."

2. The Yankees will handle the surprising Blue Jays, taking two of three games in Toronto. And really, on Sunday afternoon, you'll wonder what Jays manager Cito Gaston will be thinking.

With Derek Jeter on third baseand two outs in the third inning, Gaston will order pitcher Brandon Morrow to intentionally walk both Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, to go after Alex Rodriguez. Predictably, A-Rod will crush a grand slam.

"I read a story that A-Rod doesn't perform well in clutch situations," a defiant Gaston will say afterward. "Although, in retrospect, perhaps I should've returned that phone message from Manny Acta that read "Re: Loading the bases for A-Rod."

3. The Tigers will take two out of three from the Royals in Kansas City, but they'll be struck by a blow to their pitching staff when Armando Galarraga announces his retirement, effective immediately.

"I'm an OK pitcher," Galarraga will say. "But I think I found my true calling: Grace and dignity in tough situations. I have a higher calling. Jim Joyce and I are going to the Gulf Coast first, then Washington, then the Middle East and, the final frontier, the Jersey Shore.

4. The Orioles, under new manager Juan Samuel, will drop two of three to Boston at home. Not satisfied with the early showing, Baltimore president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail will trade Samuel to the Braves for pitching coach Roger McDowell.

"It worked for the Phillies just fine back in 1989," MacPhail will say. "I was going to track down Lenny Dykstra, just to complete the effect, but I feared that he'd wind up owing us money."

--Daniel Murphy's season is over, David Lennon writes. You've got to feel for the guy (Murphy, not Lennon). More and more, it looks like those few good months in 2008 will be as good as it got for Murphy.

--The Yankees' bullpen is better now than it was a year ago, Erik Boland writes. I agree.

--A-Rod expressed his happiness that Cleveland's David Huff returned to the mound, five days after he took an A-Rod line drive to his head.

--In light of the Galarraga-Joyce imbroglio, Neil "Yakosphere" Best offers his 10 worst calls, ever.

--Some Yankees don't want instant replay. I keep hearing this "Where would we draw the line?" objection to replay, or, as Derek Jeter put it, "When does it start, when will it stop?" I don't know. Couldn't you apply that to just about anything? If something is worthwhile, then you hammer out the details, whether it's a collective bargaining agreement or a health-care bill. You don't just give up.

--Long Island umpires sympathize with Joyce.

--Jose Canseco told a grand jury that he didn't witness Roger Clemens taking steroids, and since this provides us with another opportunity to trash the Mitchell Report, let's not pass it up:

(Or as, David Letterman said about his rival Jay Leno: "If you can't say anything nice about Jay, well, let's hear it.")

On page 168: Mitchell writes: "McNamee stated that, during this luncheon (at Canseco's house in Miami), he observed Clemens, Canseco, and another person he did not know meeting inside Canseco's house, although McNamee did not personally attend that meeting. Canseco told members of my investigative staff that he had numerous conversations with Cleens about the benefits of Deca-Durabolin and Winstrol and how to "cycle" and "stack" steroids."

Now, if you pull those two sentences apart from one another, then they seemingly have little connection, right? But when you read them together, you make a leap: The "other person" was a drug dealer, and Clemens and Canseco were executing some sort of transaction.

Of course, if you throw that back at Mitchell and his staff, they can say, "You're drawing conclusions! We didn't write that." But basically, it appears they wanted credit if they were right, and they wanted to be able to disavow themselves of it if they were wrong.

I know this trick. If I know, say, the Mets have a scout at a Mariners game, I can write, "The Mets had a scout in attendance at the Mariners game, which Cliff Lee started. The Mets have a need for starting pitching. Lee will likely be available soon."

Then, if the Mets come out and say, "Hey, that scout wasn't there to see Lee!" I can come back and say, "I never said he WAS there to see Lee."

Pretty sneaky, sis.

--Jim Baumbach tracked down Robin Ventura, whose college hitting streak is in jeopardy.

--Have a great weekend. I'll be at Citi Field Sunday for Marlins-Mets.





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