Short hops

Random All-Star break thoughts while wondering when the Sammy Sosa perjury trial gets underway …

Kenny Rogers told the Dallas Morning News last night that he will not be surrendering his All-Star spot. This ought to be great. At what is supposed to be one of the game’s marquee events, will be one of its most recent embarrassments on stage and in focus. Mike Timlin and Jeremy Bonderman must be psyched. Bud Selig should have stepped in and made this decision before Rogers was ultimately left to do so. Any other course of action basically condones Rogers’ actions, no matter what is said publicly.

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AL skipper Terry Francona tabbed White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle to be the AL’s starting pitcher, the absolute best choice for a team that would have had Roy Halladay in the role if not for injury. While Jon Garland has gotten most of the headlines in Chicago due to his league-leading 13 wins, it is Buehrle who is the ace of that surprising staff.

Still in Chicago, apparently old buddy Nomar Garciaparra might be just two to three weeks away from returning to the Cubs, which would give him the possibility of getting a full two more months in this season. Ironically, that will come right around the anniversary of when Theo Epstein packed his bags for him a year ago. Can the Cubs pull off an opposite sketch, tear through the remainder of the season by getting Nomar instead of getting rid of him?

The Providence Journal’s Bill Reynolds says the Red Sox are the AL East favorite by what Homer J. calls “the two greatest words in the English language”: De. Fault. Maybe. If they can beat the Orioles once or twice down the stretch. In reality, the Sox could be AL champs by default, as aside from the White Sox and Angels, has anyone really impressed? Anyone? (And before the A’s fans e-mails come in, yes we’re impressed with their recent run, but it’s nothing near being able to call them a favorite in the league just yet.)

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With the acquisition of Alex Cora, Bret Boone isn’t coming to Boston, leaving the Mariners with just a few hours to deal him before losing his rights. The only likely landing spot is the original place he was assumed headed in San Diego.

Anyone else ready to start the Jon Papelbon era now?

Hey kids! It’s the Home Run Derby with Chris Berman and Joe Morgan tonight in Detroit, only to get you ready for McCarver tomorrow. Yippee!

Here’s a new drinking game, take a sip any time Berman comes up with some lame attempt at interjecting local flavor into the mundane home run calls tonight. “That one’s into Lake Michigan.” “That one’s all the way to the old Wayne Fontes estate.”

Go figure. The New York tabloids seem to have gotten a hint from somewhere that Roger Clemens isn’t up for trade. Thus, hopefully, ending the biggest non-story this season. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the Astros are on another surge, much like last season, and are just five games in back of Atlanta in the wild card race.

Highly recommend “The Life Aquatic.”

Thank God Bronson Arroyo is pitching the second-half opener against the Yankees Thursday, a game that may also feature Curt Schilling coming out of the bullpen. Whether by his own validation or not, something always seems to happen when Arroyo is on the mound against New York. Guaranteed. There was of course that little brawl last summer and A-Rod’s playoff slap. Last time, long after he left the game, we had the Chris House-Gary Sheffield throwdown. Add Schilling to that mix, and you tell me how there’s a better way to open the second half.

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Although I could do without the whole, trite, handing the rings out to the raffle winners in front of the Yankees again. I mean, we get it. The Sox won.

Just two weeks and counting until Foxborough training camp commences.

Perhaps mere hours until the end of the NHL work stoppage?