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The Dog Days of Summer....

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With training camp still several weeks away, there's little to report on in Steeler land. As depressing as that may seem initially, no news is actually good news. It was about this time last year that Big Ben suffered his horrific motorcylce accident. Hines Ward was plagued by a hamstring injury that turned out to linger far longer than expected, and there were rumors galore about whether or not Coach Cowher would be coaching the Steelers for the final time.

This year, things are quiet. The defense mixed things up in mini-camp, Big Ben seems to be back on track, and the arrival of new head coach Mike Tomlin will hopefully usher in a new prolific era for this proud franchise.

So, keep your fingers crossed that the only news coming out of Western PA is the signing of our remaining rookies. In the meantime, let's take a look at the developments in Major League Baseball. For those of you who couldn't give a damn about our country's former 'National Pastime', sorry. Football will be upon us soon enough.

The big story of course is Mr. Bonds' assault on the record books. Let's skip that though. For the record, I happen to like Bonds and think the treatment he's received the past 5 years has been one of the biggest travesties in the history of sports journalism. With the media circus that's sure to follow Bonds' quest over the course of the next couple of weeks, many other interesting stories in baseball are sure to be glossed over. Here's a few of the developments I'll be keeping my eye on as the second half begins to unfold:

How Low Will the Yankees Go???

It's hard to imagine a team with this much talent playing sub-.500 baseball 80+ games into the season. A-Rod, Jeter, Matsui, Clemens, Rivera, Pettite...the list of super-stars is seemingly endless. How long does The Boss stick with Joe Torre? I can't say I'm not enjoying watching the Bronx Bombers struggle.

Who Will Win the War of Attrition in the NL Central?

Who exactly is the front-runner in the NL Central? Are the Brewers and their slew of young everyday players the team to beat? Or is it the suddenly hot, $300 million Chicago Cubbies? What about the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals? Can we put a fork in them 7.5 games out with Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter not in top-form? The Brewers have a 4.5 game lead over the Cubs heading into the second half, but that lead has been trimmed by the North Siders of Chicago over the past two weeks. The Brewers head into the second half having lost 7 of their last 10, and let's not discount the fact that most of their young talent has never been through a legitimate pennant race. If you thought the ratings for the NBA Finals were bad, just wait and see what happens if the Brewers make it to the Fall Classic.

*Will 61 Be Reached?

Prince Fielder and Alex Rodriguez have an outside shot at getting past the mark set by Roger Marris. Many fans don't consider Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa's assault on the record books as legitimate, so I'd assume that the fans would be highly interested in another HR chase should it materialize in August and September. Neither are quite on pace to do so, but if Fielder can put together another couple of months like he had in May and June, and if A-Rod can duplicate is April in just one of the remaining months, it's not entirely out of the question.

Any thing else you are paying attention to this baseball season? For those 'Buccos fans out there, things aren't too bad. They're only 8 games under .500 and have a decent shot at getting back to level par and perhaps finishing within 3-6 games of the division lead. Do you even give a damn about baseball or are you feeling more sport deprived this time of year than ever?