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Pennant or no pennant?

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

On May 31, the Braves moved into first place in the NL Central.

And hung in there until Sept. 7 in Pittsburgh -- lowly, lowly Pittsburgh. Then they wasted their leading pitcher, Tim Hudson, on the Pirates, and they have only caught a glimpse of first place since. As this is written, they are three games out, and it all came about when an outfielder, Justin Maxwell, three times up and down in the Washington Nationals order of things -- and who was hitting .132 -- struck a bases-loaded home run in the first inning Wednesday.

Never drew blood again, nor did the Braves, who caught a plane to Flushing, celebrated by sporting Bobby Cox's uniform number on the fuselage, it being the Braves last regular road trip. By the time they get home, they will have played nine games against the Mets, the Phillies and Nationals (lowly Nationals), and they will know just where they stand -- probably. I say that, for they finish the schedule against the Phillies, three days in a row at Turner Field.

Since the first of August I've had the feeling there was no pennant in the Braves' future, but they never bent -- until just lately. And now, there is little to hang their hats on. The Giants are closing in, and Colorado isn't far behind -- and you know what the Rockies are like in September -- and here we are speaking, not of pennant, but of the Wild Card.

They would take it and be happy -- and don't you doubt me.

Rookie of the Year? Looks to be Buster Posey, the Giants catcher from Leesburg, out of Florida State. Who can, they say, "do it all." In fact, some West Coast nomenclatural specialist has come to call him "The Natural," as in Bernie Malamud's book, and the movie -- I thought Joe Mauer already had that title named down. How about that, three best futures in the major leagues are all catchers -- Mauer, Posey and right in our backyard Brian McCann, by this time a "grizzled veteran," as they say.

In case it slipped past you, Tiger Woods just closed his first full year without a victory on the PGA Tour. (Don't forget, he may have won the Tour Championship trophy, but Phil Mickelson won the tournament.)

Woods last won in the third playoff tournament, the BMW Championship, in Chicago last year. Then his career caved in on a

Thanksgiving holiday and nothing has been the same since -- nor will he be on hand at East Lake next week. Isn't it heartening to see nice guys winning again -- Mickelson, Kuchar, Els, Stricker and Mahan.

Now that Reggie Bush has turned in his Heisman Trophy, isn't it about time that the Heisman Committee request that O.J. Simpson follow suit?

For a reason far more serious than having Southern Cal furnish housing for your family.