Some news items are so strange you can only offer them without comment and let the readers make up their own minds.

The Anaheim Angels benched slumping star Albert Pujols on Saturday.

The three-time National League MVP has gone a career-worst 33 games and 137 at-bats without a home run, since late last season. He is hitting .194 with five RBIs.

When the slugger grounded out in the ninth to cap an 0-for-4 night against Toronto on Friday, Angels fans rained boos down on the field.

"They have a reason to boo," Pujols acknowleged. "I'm not performing the way that I can."

Future of the game?

Most fans have concluded that the future of the sport is playing left field for the Washington Nationals, but that might be 20th-century thinking.

Although he carries a 19th-century name, a shortstop playing in single-A Bakersfield, Calif., might just be the next phase in the evolution of the game.

Billy Hamilton, 21, led organized baseball in stolen bases last season, with 103 in 135 games for Dayton in the Cincinnati Reds' farm system. In his first 26 games this season for Bakersfield, Hamilton had 31 steals while hitting .382.

"His speed is totally off the charts," Chris Buckley, the Reds' senior director for amateur scouting, told the New York Times.

Base stealing did poorly in baseball's steroid era. The last player to steal 100 was St. Louis' Vince Coleman, who swiped 109 in 1987 - the year before Jose Canseco won the AL's MVP award, sparking a lamentable era that lasted more than 15 seasons. But base stealing might be coming back.

BTW: The original Billy Hamilton was a Phillie and a Hall of Famer who last played in 1901. He stole 914 bases, trailing only Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock on the career list.

nolead begins

Upside-down standings

Baltimore and Washington finished play on Saturday with 18-9 records. The Orioles were second in the AL East and the Nationals lead the NL East.

Meanwhile such names as Boston and the Angels are last in their respective divisions, and your Phillies aren't far out of the cellar.

He's back

Detroit's Delmon Young went hitless in his first game back from a seven-day suspension following his April 27 arrest in New York. He was greeted by a smattering of boos, but heard mainly cheers.